By Melissa Proulx, Staff Writer
When it comes to getting an education, many female students in other parts of the world face the challenge of not being able to acquire the knowledge they need. But one student organization here on campus is working to change that.
Started during the fall 2013 semester, She’s the First at the University of New Hampshire is the local campus chapter of a national organization designed to help provide the educational opportunities needed for women throughout the world.
“We’re young people empowering other young people to get an education,” said Rebecca Lebar, a junior double major in communications and Spanish and president of the club. “We have the privilege to do what is a great cause. I think anyone can relate to that — wanting to get an education.”
For the last year, the group has been holding an event each semester to raise money for the national organization. In October, for example, the club held a cupcake sale entitled “Bake a Change.”
“We sold a lot this past month, just under $200,” Lebar said.
When sent directly to the national organization, the local chapter does not necessarily have a say in where the money will go. Rather, it will be sent to where it is most needed, and they do have the opportunity to pick where it goes if they want to.
“I’m hoping we can find a specific girl to sponsor because that would be really cool,” Lebar said, explaining how this will be something that the group works towards in the future.
The focus on girls is simple, according to the national organization’s website. By educating girls for the future, they will be able to live healthier lives, whether it be due to the better jobs they are able to get or the healthier relationship choices they make, thus helping to break the cycle of poverty.
“Ultimately, our student leaders and scholars become the change agents who break cycles of generational poverty and transform our world,” the organization wrote in the About section on their website.
According to the organization’s website, there is only a 33 percent enrollment rate for girls in secondary schools in the countries they work in. These 10 countries are Ethiopia, India, Kenya, Nepal, Peru, South Sudan, Tanzania, the Gambia and Uganda.
The organization was started by Tammy Tibbetts, a journalism major who graduated from the College of New Jersey in 2007. Tibbetts started the program in 2009, a move that won her a spot in Time’s 30 under 30 for the education category in 2013. And while UNH is doing its part to help out with the cause, 82 other chapters located at various high schools and colleges throughout the country are doing their part as well.
Though the cause and purpose of the group also have a noble purpose, that’s not the only thing that makes the club a great choice for students, according to Lebar.
“We meet three times a semester because there’s only one event per semester, so meetings every week is not necessary,” she said. “It’s not very demanding, so it’s a club that really anyone can join no matter what your schedule is.”
Those interested often sign up by contacting Lebar, though many signed up as well during the U-day festivities earlier in the semester.
“… You have to do six hours for the year of donating your time, and then you’re an active member,” Lebar explained.
Already the group has grown from just six members to 25 in the last year, and Lebar looks forward to seeing how the group and its mission will continue to grow and make an impact in the future.
“I’m hoping to gain a lot more membership, and I hope to become more recognized on campus because no one really knows who we are and what we do,” she said. “It’s just really cool to be a part of something this big and changing lives of girls who can’t afford to go to school.”