Get Inspired

Caitlin Vanderberg

September 29, 2010

I attended the weekend retreat back in March, and before I went to it I was nervous and excited for what was ahead of me. Looking back, I see that I learned so much from all the influential women that stood before me. (I also learned a lot from the unique and passionate girls that took part in the program!) I have become more aware of the power of women and how more women in office can truly make a difference in resolving current and future issues. The events that the other girls and I were fortunate enough to take part in make me think “wow” because I know how lucky I was to be among women who are enthusiastic about making a difference in their communities and beyond.

One thing that was truly noticeable after the weekend that I spent with Running Start was my confidence as a whole.  I feel more confident to speak my mind because I know that there are women out there rooting me on and I now know that I have what it takes to step up and make a difference.  I am confident and proud to be a woman as well! In school and out of school, my public speaking has improved by incredible amounts. The speaking and messaging exercises that the groups and group leaders did was truly phenomenal…I’ve never done something where I had to come up with something on the spot and be able to clearly and concisely articulate what I wanted to say to a group of people. And the day that we worked on networking, I’ll never forget that! Walking around the room and getting to know the other girls by spreading my idea was clever and a perfect way to implement networking. I also loved being recorded on camera! I can always take the tips that I learned with me!

Abigail Cota

September 8, 2010

I’ve always been an active participant in extracurricular activities, yet Running Start was different. When I learned about Running Start’s Young Women’s Political Retreat my senior year in high school, I was extremely fascinated with their program and applied. I was thrilled to travel on an airplane, let alone visit Washington, DC. Applying for Running Start has been one of the greatest decisions I’ve ever made.

The program was fascinating. Everything about it had an influence on my thoughts. There were many activities, places to visit, films to watch, sights to see, and things to learn. In addition, I met great women from across the nation, who I still keep in touch with. Running Start makes politics a tool to unify the elements that come in cultivating successful women. This program has essentially nourished me and the other girls with tools on being successful, an intellectual, seeking help, and giving back to our communities and beyond.

Running Start is not about the monetary gain, it’s about the desire to educate great young women from all different backgrounds on the basis for leadership in their near futures.

For me, Running Start has become the reminder of who I am and who I seek to be. Even if I might not become a politician after all, I will not forget the values installed by this exquisite program. Before Running Start, I was active in school and my academics but in the aftermath I find myself with a higher self-esteem, assertiveness, leadership skills, communication skills, discipline, professionalism, etiquette, hope, aspirations, and friends for life. I strongly believe that Running Start was a life changing experience for me. I pride myself in being part of Running Start. More importantly, I have set example for my family and community. The girls involved are extraordinary and although the intimidation was there I loved it. Their individual testimonials have only reminded me of how much potential I have and the degree I should be working at. I will continue to become involved with Running Start and forever appreciate this wonderful opportunity.

Amanda Benavidez

September 8, 2010

While participating in Running Start, I was inspired by true women leaders, I learned about myself as a leader and the truly significant roles of women as political leaders in the world. I acquired a passion for politics I never knew I could have and conquered a lack of confidence in myself. Running Start made a lasting mark on me that I will always treasure. Since my boost of confidence and my ignited passion for politics, I have been tackling the obstacles and challenges that come my way during my quest to find a greater understanding of my place as a young woman making her running start in politics. I have recently been taking a leadership role in my school and community. I held a jean drive at my school, partook in a project that raises awareness of the lack of clean water in other countries and helped in other organizations that have helped me learn about my passion as a leader. This has helped me realize that I love helping others and I have the power to do that with politics. I have been utilizing the tools that Running Start has put into my hands. A chapter of Running Start has been started here at my school and is a great success. I’d like other girls to have the same great experience I did so that they too may find the emerging leader within.  Never in my life would I have imagined that this timid city girl would emerge from her shell and Running Start has left me inspired and excited about the positive changes I can promote in my community and eventually in the world.

Anna Hidalgo

September 8, 2010

Running Start was a perfect introduction to Washington DC. Having a supportive community of exceptionally accomplished women was a critical part of making my time on Capitol Hill so incredibly exciting and enriching. Our fellowships gave us an opportunity to learn first hand from some of the most influential and inspirational women in American politics, and our weekly seminars were the perfect opportunity to debrief, learn from each other, and meet even more awe-inspiring women from all walks of life, doing incredible things in our nation’s capitol. Most of all, the relationships and connections I made during the STAR fellowship will be with me for a lifetime. I will never forget my STAR sisters, and I have no doubt that they will go on to do extraordinary things. The Running Start team’s dedication to their work of bringing young women into politics is so important. We are tomorrow’s leaders, and thanks to Running Start we are all better prepared to take the next step.

Camille Henderson

September 8, 2010

I left the Young Women’s Leadership Retreat knowing that my desires of leadership were to someday be of use to this world. Running Start gave me the confirmation of big dreams being initiated with big action, and since then, my life has truly been enriched with the beauty of not only knowing how to implement leadership, but the essence of inspiration. In a world where one can become easily susceptible to the derogatory manner of society, Running Start has instilled hope in each and every participant. They have exposed me to a world of media, social networking, and the like. The Young Women’s Leadership Retreat is so much more than just 4 days of hands on interaction with politics; it’s the basis on which we as young women stand, confidently knowing that WE are the leaders of tomorrow.

Before my experience with Running Start, I was one who always doubted my maximum potential; always hesitant to do something because I feared that what I did wasn’t good enough to compete with those around me. It wasn’t until the retreat that I started to realize that if I was passionate about something, I could execute anything that I put my mind to, no matter what others may think.

Running Start has not only built me up, but they’ve opened another chapter to my life. I now find myself more observant of the works of politics. I find myself among women in this country who are already showing the world that they mean business. For example, Running Start’s annual Women to Watch Awards; members of Congress, women entrepreneurs, and those who had already begun to pave the way for young women preceding them, all congregated at the National Press Club…and I was there to speak publicly about my experience with Running Start! From that night alone, the name “President Henderson” started to become more of a reality than a dream. No longer could someone tell me that I wasn’t capable of doing something, or advise me to sit and remain quiet because it was the save thing to do. I found that voice that was inside me all along, and because of the Young Women’s Leadership retreat, it was amplified to the tenth power.

Running Start has helped me to achieve my goals by giving me the opportunity to confirm my destiny; that is, allowing me to me confident in my desire of leadership. My grandmother has always told me, “To whom much is given, much is required.” This retreat has given me so much and I see it fit that I am required to give just as much (if not more) back to my community. Because Running Start believed in me, I have strong belief that I will be of the chosen who will lead this world into a legacy of new beginnings.

Cristina Rodriguez

September 8, 2010

In the summer of 2009, I was selected, along with 49 other extraordinary young girls from throughout the United States, for the amazing opportunity to participate in the Running Start Young Women’s Political Leadership Program. This was a great experience from beginning to end. I am from Olympia, Washington, and it was my first time traveling to Washington, D.C., the epicenter of U.S. politics. I had the chance to experience the lifestyle of the east coast, which is completely different from the one here in the west coast.

During this intensive program, we were able to meet influential women in politics who have built names for themselves against all odds…women who broke stereotypes and faced hard times for stepping into positions that were mainly occupied by males at the time. Now these visionary women holding these important positions have proved that they can also contribute significantly to our country’s politics.

We also worked with other strong women who introduced all of us to important subjects, like the important role that fundraising plays while running for office, as well as the significance that the media has for any political campaign. We received media training prior to our on-camera interviews. We also participated in a public speaking workshop where we had the opportunity to learn the basic concepts and the impact that well-made speeches have in political campaigns. My favorite event was the networking party in which we met with professionals with elite careers there in the D.C. area.

My entire experience was amazing, but for me the most important thing was to have the opportunity to talk with strong girls like me. Girls who are not afraid to speak their minds and are willing to work hard for good causes. I created strong friendships that still last to this date. I learned a lot from these girls and for me that is priceless. The staff was also memorable. Susannah Shakow certainly did care about all of us and it showed. I admire her for what she does in encouraging young women to start making a difference now.

My participation in this excellent program helped me feel more confident in who I am, and gave a clear direction in what I have to do in order to achieve my goals in creating a positive change to my Latino community. I now know that my projects can create positive changes one step at a time. Running Start also taught me a valuable lesson about the important role that women play in office, and how crucial it is for the future of this nation to have more representation of women in office in order to improve our country’s politics. I learned that it is never too soon to take action and age does not matter for us young leaders!

I hope this program can continue to provide this amazing opportunity to other proactive young girls like me.

Fahiya Rashid

September 8, 2010

What can I possibly say about Running Start that has not been said already? For starters the program gave me confidence to voice my opinions fearlessly, it showed me some startling statistics about how there is not enough women in politics which instilled in me the desire and almost unquenchable necessity to run for office someday, the program showed me that I have the power to become a leader if I truly desire it and that leaders are not born, they are made through the situations they are put into, the obstacles they face and overcome. And I am proud to say that Running Start has given me the opportunity and the environment to flourish as a leader.

Miesha Stallings

September 8, 2010

I look forward to taking this honor and learning more about my world, and how I, as a woman, can participate in it to its fullest. Being able to see Congresswomen engage a world dominated by powerful men will equip me with unique tools I need to embrace my future. I know I will learn so many wonderful things from our speakers and the other women in this program by seeing how they approach the world around them, not just as individuals, but as women. I cannot adequately express my excitement about all the opportunities that the Star Fellowship provides.

Sara Fink

September 8, 2010

I wanted to be a Star Fellow because I knew that I would encounter inspiring women while participating in a unique political experience. I wanted a hands-on Washington experience, and Running Start has provided me with all the tools I need to accomplish my highest of goals. Between the other fellows, my mentors, co-workers, and all of the women of Running Start, I know that I will have an invaluable experience surrounded by great women. I am thankful for this opportunity, and looking forward to being a part of the Running Start community.

Danielle Liebl

September 8, 2010

Running Start has giving me confidence to be a leader in not only my community but my state. I will aspire to be a world leader and I do not care what people will think. Young women are the voice and power of our nation.