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Creating my unique identity

By Sally N., 2024 College Shower Honoree

Twenty years ago, my sister Sarah had her first seizure at our church in Queens, stopping the entire mass. It was the first indication that she had Rett Syndrome, a neurological disorder. Due to my sister's condition, I learned to be self-reliant and independent from a young age since my parents, working class immigrants from the Philippines, and my eldest sister Stephanie, had enough responsibilities on their plates. 

By the time I was seven, I had a crucial role in the care taking of my 12 year-old sister. While other kids went to the park and played around, I fed and changed her. Despite these responsibilities, I never resented her. She taught me to be empathetic and compassionate. 

However, at times, compounded with the invisibility I already felt through the social expectations set on me for being a female, this role made me want to establish my own unique identity.

I was able to go on this journey with the assistance of Girls Inc of NYC. I have participated in Girls Inc. programming all four years of my high school career and have had classes focused around mental health, healthy sexuality, financial literacy, and college prep. I’ve had the same mentors through it all and they have helped me become more knowledgeable and confident, in a nutshell– strong, smart, and bold. 


My older sister Stephanie is 13 years older, and was also a participant in Girls Inc. of NYC. She was the first in our family to attend college and has always been an inspiration to me. In fact, she was a College Shower student honoree 12 years ago. It was because of her incredible experience with Girls Inc. that I knew this program would set me up for success.

At a Girls Inc. resume building workshop, I had the pleasure of meeting an alumna of American University. I’m proud to say that I will be attending American University and tonight’s scholarship will aid me in completing my first year of college completely debt free. 

Girls Inc. has assisted me in finding powerful and professional women to emulate. Under their guidance, I’ve been inspired to major in finance. At the Ernst & Young and Travelers events which were all located at prominent consulting firms, I have learned about the importance of internship programs in the process of securing a job post-undergrad. They’ve inspired me to consider getting my MBA or attending law school.

It’s tough being a girl in New York City. Everything moves quickly, meaning people tend to pass you by and your dreams might seem unattainable. However, Girls Inc. of NYC has supported me in believing that my dreams could be a reality. Girls Inc of NYC has shaped me to become the person I am today and I hope to continue working with the organization.


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