It was never quite clear to me why I was so interested in women’s issues and organizations. In high school, I was involved in student government, Interact, theater and field hockey, but there wasn’t a support group specifically for women. Looking back, I remember the highs and lows of high school: the boy drama, the friend groups, studying, competition, beauty, and anything else that may have caused anxiety. It may have been the teenage blues, but everything stressed me out, and I constantly felt lost and confused. Why wasn’t there a young women’s support group? My sports, field hockey and tennis, were only women and this created a very fun, loving and competitive environment, but the sport was the main thing that kept us together. When I got to college, I found myself in high leadership positions with other men and women, and it was obvious that the women ‘ruled’ and went about things differently compared to the men. I joined an organization that helps to end domestic violence against women, and I performed in the Vagina Monologues, a female-only cast. Although I was surrounded by powerful, independent women, there was still no recognizable support group to be found.
This all changed when I came to Washington, DC. Although groups have specific missions, such as Running Start, WIN (Women’s Information Network), and WUFPAC (Women Under Forty Political Action Committee), they still provide networks for women. Women in Washington are very motivated and empowered, and I attribute this to the numerous support systems. I believe that towns and cities that provide education and empowerment programs to women are, and will be, more progressive and successful.
We are so privileged to live in the United States where we have copious resources, and I feel especially lucky because I have had friends, family and teachers who want me to succeed. But not all people, especially women and young girls, have that opportunity. Running Start has set the stage for providing young women with resources to help them be leaders, and my wish is to see this organization expand throughout the United States and all over the world.
(On a side note): Washington DC is a place like no other; it is the part of the United States where people from the north, south, east and west all come together. These people may be from all walks of life, representing liberals, conservatives and everything in between, but they are here on a mission. Never in my life have I met so many motivated and hard-working individuals. The Star Fellows of Running Start are a prime example of the young talent that will help improve our country in the years to come. I am so honored to live and be friends with women of our house and it has truly become ‘home’.
-Katelyn S., Star Fellow Fall 2009