Student Spotlight: Transforming Passion Into Action

By Samantha League, Communications Coordinator

Marlen Miranda ’16 made sure to leave her mark on OLP and the broader community before heading off to college. She seized an opportunity to execute a gender equality project when she became one of 5,000 applicants for the ANNpower Vital Voices Initiative, and one of only 50 young women to be chosen as a 2015 ANNpower Fellow.

Marlen began noticing gender inequality 10 years ago while living in Guadalajara, Mexico. When she moved to the U.S., she noticed how these same inequalities prevailed in the media, politics and within her local neighborhood. As a young woman who has experienced this injustice, she felt obligated to “make some sort of change that would at least try to resolve this issue.” Her solution was to bring young girls and professional women together for a day of learning and networking.

Marlen’s idea came to fruition when she received a $2250 grant and leadership training in Washington, D.C. as an ANNpower Fellow. She called her event “Girls 4 Change Forum,” and invited professional women from all types of sectors to participate. Her guests of honor ranged from a VP of International Business Affairs to an animal care technician and a psychotherapist.

On the day of her event, students enjoyed 30­minute rotations of learning activities and conversations. The intent was to broaden each girl’s mindset through education. This event was a courageous undertaking on her part because it meant Marlen had to go against traditional “Machismo” culture, which values men as strong breadwinners and women as homemakers and mothers. In this type of culture, young girls are not given the opportunity to discover potential career paths in the public sector. “I know that everyday girls like me are seen as inferior just because they are women,” Marlen explains.

“Girls 4 Change” was the perfect opportunity for Marlen to step out of her comfort zone, combine her two passions of education and gender equality, and make a difference in the lives of young girls. The experience taught her a lot about herself, her traditions and her perspective of the world. As Marlen says, “I truly believe that we are all called to do something that will positively impact our world. It is just the matter of taking the initiative and acting upon this passion! ‘If not me, who? If not now, when?’”