New organization She’s the First strives to fight gender inequality through education

Meghan Nguyen

Founded by two sophomores, the newly established She’s the First chapter at UT is working to provide scholarships and support for girls’ education in low-income countries.

In January 2018, sophomores Sarah Haque and Danica Ferniz launched the chapter to help fight gender inequality. The purpose of the national She’s the First organization is to empower disadvantaged girls by providing them with the money and resources to become the first in their families to graduate high school and college, aiming to alleviate their financial and social hardships.

“Being a woman of color, I am so unabashedly aware of the discrimination and hardships many women face in developing countries when they try to pursue a higher education,” said Haque, co-president of the chapter and international relations and global studies sophomore. “I wanted to use my resources as a college student to aid other girls in dire circumstances where they are often prevented from graduating school.”

She’s the First sponsors girls’ education in developing nations, Haque said. To fulfill this mission, She’s The First adopts a multipronged approach through four committees: public relations, global citizenship, community engagement and gala. Each committee is responsible for organizing fundraisers and spreading awareness of global issues that contribute to poverty. 

She’s the First has kicked off the spring semester with several fundraising events, including a number of profit shares with companies near campus. These fundraisers will ultimately contribute to She’s the First’s semester goal, which is $400 to send one disadvantaged girl in a developing country to school. 

“(She’s the First) is unique because the money we raise on our campus targets a specific girl,” said Ferniz, co-president of the chapter and biology sophomore. “We can directly see the impact we make on the progress of their life. We know the names (and) stories of the girls, and who they aspire to be one day.” 

Many members and officers have encountered the organization’s mission on a personal basis, citing their own experiences with education and sacrifice. 

“As the first person — and woman — in my family to have a US education, I believe that education truly opens doors to endless opportunities,” said Christine Li, the chapter’s public relations chair and marketing junior. “I am greatly fortunate to have had the luxury of being able to further my education to develop my career, and (I) would value the opportunity to help make a higher education not just a dream but a reality for girls in the world who are less fortunate than I am.”