We’re kicking off the month of October with a blog series leading up to our favorite day of the year – International Day of the Girl, of course! This year, we’re celebrating the every day #GIRLHERO like you and highlighting some of the amazing work your fellow Girl Up Club Leaders, Teen Advisors, and supporters are doing to ensure every girl around the world is educated, safe, healthy and empowered.
Our first blog is an interview with sisters Shayla and Dayalis Zamora who are leaders of their Girl Up Club in Florida and lead the Girl Up Florida Coalition. Here’s what they have to say:
Shayla (S): My name is Shayla Zamora and I am a junior at Suncoast Community High School and I am the co-founder and co-president of Girl Up Suncoast.
Dayalis (D): My name is Dayalis Zamora, I’m in my senior year of high school. I also go to Suncoast Community High School with my sister and I am currently the Co-President of our Girl Up Club.
1. How did you both hear about Girl Up?
S: I personally heard of Girl Up through a girl’s YouTube video talking about her top 5 favorite organizations. I thought that her brief description of Girl Up was really cool, so I checked out the website and the rest is history.
D: I heard about Girl Up from my sister, Shayla, after Girl Up first formed about six years ago, and ever since then, I have been following Girl Up’s successes from afar until I was able to start a club at my school my junior year.
2. How has Girl Up impacted your personal, academic and professional goals?
S: Girl Up uprooted my life and completely changed my personal, academic, and professional goals. Before Girl Up, I didn’t really have any future goals and I was unclear of how my life would turn out. Now, I am pursuing a political career and will, hopefully, get into a university in Washington D.C. like Georgetown or American University to study international relations or public policy.
D: Girl Up has impacted me personally by making me want to become a better, more informed person and to constantly practice placing myself in others’ shoes the best way I can. It has additionally encouraged me to strive for more in school, as when you become more involved with Girl Up, the importance of education and how privileged we are to be educated in the United States really affects you – with that being said, Girl Up has allowed me to think bigger about what I want to study, which is currently international relations.
3. Why is Girl Up important to you, your family, friends, community, school, etc.?
S: Girl Up is important to me because it allows me to do the thing I love, which is helping people. Girl Up also gives me the chance to meet new people and interact with teenagers my age from all parts of the world. Without Girl Up, I wouldn’t have gotten to experience half of the things I’ve done and for that I am eternally grateful. I would like to think that Girl Up is important to my community and school. I believe that, in my school especially, there is a greater sense of community and girl power. I think our club has started a mini girl-revolution since so many girl-themed clubs have started this year (Girls Who Code, Women in Engineering, etc.) And because our club is very inclusive, we’re breaking ties between the different grade levels and encouraging underclassmen and upperclassmen to work together for the same cause, which is truly such an amazing sight to see.
D: Girl Up is important to those around me because I have seen the change it really creates in people who are willing to listen and hear the stories of girls who have to walk miles before being able to go to school. When you take time to think about others and pay attention to what they have to say, it is a very humbling experience to see just how those who know me and are in my community are lucky to possess the items they have.
4. How have you combined your passions with the mission of Girl Up?
S: Luckily, my passions line up right with Girl Up’s mission! I try to spread the word about creating change and uniting amazing people and the way I do it is by creating YouTube videos. I’ve recently created a new channel dedicated solely to empowering others and, coincidentally, its “premiere” is on International Day of the Girl.
D: Two of my biggest passions are reading and writing, so I’ve implemented my passions into my club by creating, writing, and sending out a newsletter specifically about the club and what we are attempting to accomplish. I love advocating and learning about current events as well, so we attempt to talk about issues that are relatable to girls (and boys!) living here in the United States while talking about how girls living in Girl Up’s focus countries are additionally affected by the same things.
5. As sisters, how does it feel to be leaders of Girl Up? Is there anything in particular you want to share about your dynamic leading Girl Up?
S: It honestly feels awesome being leaders in Girl Up as sisters. Although we can sometimes butt heads about certain things when leading together, it’s amazing knowing you have someone there to depend on and who’s equally passionate about what you’re doing. If there’s anything I would want to share with Girl Up about leading is that having someone there to support you is amazing and it shouldn’t be taken for granted. Share the spotlight with your fellow Girl Up siblings and encourage them to take leadership positions because, trust me, you’ll need it!
D: Because we are sisters who also lead a Girl Up club side by side, it is almost like Girl Up never really ends at school, because we take the job with us, and we’re constantly creating and planning for our club in our own spare time. Our dynamic when leading Girl Up is that we will usually divide tasks we must get done between us – it makes for more time and the ability to achieve more activities than if only one person were leading the club, especially someone you’re not related to.
6. Lastly, we can’t talk about International Day of the Girl without asking you both the ultimate question – who is your #GirlHero?
D: As cheesy as it sounds, my #GirlHero is actually my sister. Ever since I was a little girl, she has always been my inspiration and has motivated me to be the way I am now. She’s such a passionate person – I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone as passionate as her – and encourages others to follow their passions as well. Even when her view isn’t the most popular, she does everything in her power to ensure that her voice is heard which, I think, is such a powerful trait to have.
D: My #GirlHero is definitely Amal Clooney. She gained popularity when she married actor George Clooney, but she is definitely renowned in her own right – she is an international human rights lawyer who has specialized in several popular cases, especially her current case in which she and her client, Nadia Murad (a member of the minority Yazidi group), are filing lawsuits against ISIS.
7. And one more question, what’s your advice to girls who want to join Girl Up but don’t know how or are unsure about doing so?
S: For anyone that wants to start a Girl Up club but is unsure about doing so, my best advice for you is to just do it! The worst thing that can happen is failure and, although it’s discouraging, it just means you have to try again! The best things in life are learned from failure and this is no exception. If you don’t know how to do it, just reach out to your fellow Girl Up siblings! Girl Up has an awesome community of passionate and loving girls and they are definitely great sources for anything Girl Up related.
D: My biggest advice to someone who wants to join Girl Up but doesn’t know where to start would definitely be to first really understand the topics and the mission Girl Up is fighting for, and of course, socialize with other members on the Girl Up community page! It’s an easy way to find other clubs around your area and to ask members for novel ideas and about how to start your own Girl Up club at your school.
Learn how you can get involved with Girl Up and celebrate the big day, International Day of the Girl, at GirlUp.org/GIRLHERO. You can download our club toolkit by logging in the Girl Up Community here.
Donate now to empower more girls like Shayla and Dayalis!