As women who live in a country where pursuing higher education and developing a career becomes more common as time progresses, we often take for granted these monumental blessings. Less than 100 years ago, women were rarely seen in the United States’ workforce, while today women are still fighting for this right in other countries. Just realizing this makes me take a step back and consider how all the opportunities I’ve had are some dreams another woman can’t even imagine achieving.
Philanthropy at CWIB is dedicated to this issue in particular. “One Girl is an organization that focuses on bettering the education for females in countries throughout Africa,” states Philanthropy Chair, Abby Riggs. Some of their efforts include partnering with various programs to award scholarships to students, as well as teaching them how to run their own businesses through an initiative called Business Brains. Sitting in cushioned seats in air-conditioned lecture halls is another aspect of our education system that these women are not privy to. Therefore, One Girl additionally strives to improve the physical environments where these women learn.
So what role does CWIB actually play in the implementation of this philanthropy? Abby tells us that we have had percentage nights at different restaurants in the hopes of raising money for One Girl, however, she admits that this has not led to the profits she had hoped. A goal of her’s is to change that for this semester — “We are planning a GoFundMe competition that members and their friends and families can take part in. We expect this simple yet effective fundraising method to raise impactful amounts for One Girl.” This easy and time-efficient idea is perfect for busy college students who want to make an immediate change in another woman’s life. Abby encourages all members to look out for more information at monthly meetings and in newsletters regarding this opportunity!
Helping those who are less fortunate than you is truly a rewarding and empowering experience. Philanthropy has always been a passion of Abby’s. “One of my favorite projects I’ve been able to take part in was serving in Ghana for three weeks. I got to personally see the issues in education there so I have a personal connection to our philanthropy.” Her passions have been put into great use as Philanthropy Chair, and she is so thankful to be surrounded by an incredible leadership team who supports her efforts. Whether it is participating in a service trip or anonymously paying for someone’s coffee in line in front of you, Abby tries to implement philanthropic acts every day. She grew up watching her mom display secret acts of kindness and knew she wanted to live this way too. “Philanthropy is giving of yourself with no expected return,” she says. No matter the size of the act, it will positively impact another’s life.
Abby volunteering with a group of students in Ghana. “I got to personally see the issues in education there so I have a personal connection to our philanthropy,” said Riggs. Photo via Abby Riggs.
One Girl is the perfect philanthropy for CWIB because we cannot stress empowering women to live up to their potential enough. However, more often than not, we are too focused on figuring out what empowers ourselves that we forgo the opportunity to help someone else in the process. “It is so easy to get caught up in the surface level side of college– grades, Greek life, resume building, etc. This causes us to often forget the reason many of us chose to come to Virginia Tech– the motto “Ut Prosim”, that I may serve,” Abby says. By looking outside of ourselves and our own interests, we open ourselves up to a bigger world through interacting and serving others. Abby summarizes this concept perfectly in a comment that really resonated with me — “In ten years, what will you remember more? The grade you got on your economics exam or the impact you made on these female students who might have never had the chance to learn about economics without your help?”
Abby and a young girl she met during her three weeks serving in Ghana. Photo via Abby Riggs.
As empowering as philanthropy can be, it is also extremely humbling. Like myself and many of us, Abby admits that she forgets how blessed we are to live in a country where we can attend college and pursue our goals. This is why she has made it her mission to advocate for One Girl because it “takes [her] out of Blacksburg and brings [her] back to the small, windowless classroom that [she] taught in. It reminds [her] of the eager, wide-eyed students sitting in front of [her], so hungry to learn.” This is what being a Hokie, and being a part of CWIB, is all about — using our talents and abilities to serve others and make a difference in our community and beyond.
So what are you waiting for? Let’s all spread the word about One Girl and empower each other to get more involved in CWIB’s philanthropy events! Just remember: One act, One donation, One Girl can all impact the world for the better.
To learn more about One Girl and their initiatives, visit their webpage linked here!