GEM and Lisa’s Story

December 20, 2019

Lisa is a former student at Chesapeake High School and participant in our GEM (Girls’ Empowerment Mission) program. Lisa grew up in poverty, as one of eight kids, raised by a mother with emotional problems, and a father who worked multiple jobs to provide for his family. Neither of her parents graduated high school and college was not part of the path that was expected for Lisa’s future. When she reflects upon her time in GEM, she thinks of it as the best years of her childhood.

“GEM opened up a whole world of possibilities and opportunities, people that encourage me, a family of sisters who understand and have grown up with me. GEM has been, and continues to be my support system.”

The mission of the GEM program is to empower high school girls from under served communities to become independent, self-sufficient, and confident young women. The girls participate in cultural and educational activities and field trips related to their school curriculum and engage with guest speakers and mentors in a safe, supportive, and nurturing environment. The program also prepares the girls for college and career by coordinating college visits, meetings with college counselors, and individualized attention from a mentor that assists each girl in achieving her goals.

“GEM gave me the awakening experience of seeing that there is life out there, outside of being hungry and stressed every day, outside of working three jobs and going to school full time. This program has helped me stay on track and stay in college when everything and everyone else was telling me to quit.”

Lisa recently graduated from the Universtiy of Maryland with a Master’s Degree in Physical Education. She plans on teaching physical education while enrolled in an Occupational Therapy PhD program.
“Most importantly, GEM has inspired me to give back and to do my best to leave the world better than when I entered it. Without GEM, I wouldn’t be who I am today. I have successfully broken the cycle.”