Reflections from Jeremiah President & CEO Gloria Perez

group_soledadThis past weekend I had the great privilege of serving on a panel at the PoweHERful Twin Cities Summit, hosted by Soledad O’Brien’s Starfish Foundation. As often happens when I am in the presence of young women who are facing struggles head on, I learn profound things.

This summit was no different.

The comments I heard from the high-school and college-aged participants mirror what I often hear from Jeremiah moms:

  • There are too many young women who continue to believe that. if they choose to work or further their education, they will not be considered supportive of their families. One girl told us that her mom didn’t want her to work or go to college because she needed her help at home while her brothers pursued their education. Let’s spread the message, as we do every day at Jeremiah, that education and work do not preclude being a supportive member of a family.
  • Many young women are fearful of pursuing their dreams because they are afraid of failure. One girl painted a clear picture: she wants to pursue a performing arts education but is afraid to audition for fear of failing. I answered in return: Failure is an essential part of success. Let’s each of us share our real stories—stories of both success and failure—to ensure that young women and girls are not held back by fear.
  • Young women struggle with following an educational path of interest because they are unsure how it will translate into a livable wage job. At Jeremiah, we are focused on connecting our moms with mentors and networks to help them see just what is possible, that commitment and passion can put us at the top of our game. Share that message!

I am grateful for the opportunity to listen to and more deeply understand the struggles that constrain the potential of young women and girls. I also was moved by the wisdom of my fellow panelists: Dr. Sharon McDaniel from A Second Chance, Dr. Verna Price from Girls in Action, and Sheba Turk, news anchor from WWL-TV in New Orleans.

Most of all, I was inspired to double down on Jeremiah’s mission to transform lives two generations at a time.