I was the first girl in my family to graduate from college. I didn’t really think too much about it. It was always an expectation that my sister and I would go to college. My parents wanted me to have the opportunity to do anything I wanted and a college education was essential.
I could have gone anywhere in the country and I chose Arizona State University. I was blessed to receive a Regents Scholarship and as long as I kept my GPA above a 3.75, I was guaranteed full tuition. I worked hard. I loved my major. My professors were the best of the best. I joined Sigma Sigma Sigma and was welcomed by a group of women that celebrated my academic achievements. I graduated suma cum laude.
It wasn’t until years later that I realized how truly fortunate I was in my pursuit of education. I had the support of family and friends. I had access to an outstanding university. I received scholarship money to pay for my education. I had the intense drive to do well academically.
I did not have to fight to go to school. I did not face the pressure of a culture that fears education for girls and puts up roadblocks to keep girls from education. I did not live in abject poverty. Millions of girls have to live this way and that frightens me.
Giving girls an education or teaching them a trade is the very first step to lift them from poverty and oppression. Girls who can read, write, and do arithmetic are much more able to raise their own family in better circumstances. They are less likely to contract HIV or fall victim to sex trafficking. Removing barriers to education is the key to solving so many global problems.
My own view on this became very clear after reading Half the Sky. Education, which we too often take for granted here in the United States, is a profound and transformational gift to girls in many parts of the world.
The Circle of Sisterhood is a global effort by sorority women committed to combatting poverty and oppression by helping girls and women receive an education. Today we launch Give4Girls. This special fundraising initiative is our way to take a stand and help girls around the world. Through a tribute donation, we can honor our sisters, teachers, mothers and friends who have helped us achieve our own goals and pay it forward to help someone else. I invite you to join me today my making a donation to Give4Girls in recognition of your own education and those who helped you achieve it, but more importantly to give some little girl a chance for a much better life.
Let’s not take this opportunity for granted. We can make a difference. We NEED to make a difference.
Please follow the link below to join the Give4Girls movement.
Bethany Deines is a member of Sigma Sigma Sigma Sorority and serves on the Circle of Sisterhood Board of Trustees. Professionally, she works as the director of annual gifts at Dayton Children’s Hospital in Dayton, Ohio.