Stephanie Arzate is a sophomore at Georgetown’s School of Foreign in Service, planning on majoring in Regional and Comparative Studies with an emphasis on Women and Education. She grew up in Chicago only three miles away from the
historic Wrigley Field and moved to Arizona at the age of ten. A city
girl at heart, her love of architecture had always convinced her that she would one day become an interior designer. But after reading Nicholas Kristof’s Half the Sky and Greg
Mortenson’s Three Cups of Tea, Stephanie became increasing interested in international relations and women’s education in the developing world. Convinced she needed to do something, Stephanie worked alongside the Afghan Institute of Learning her final year in high school and organized a team to raise money to fund the education of over 50 Afghan women. This experience has brought her to Georgetown and ultimately Women LEAD. In her limited spare time, Stephanie enjoys crafting, which has consequently turned her into a frequent shopper of the craftstore, Hobby Lobby.
Why did you want to become involved with Women LEAD? Why do you care about young women’s leadership?
Before entering my first year at Georgetown University, I thought that the answer to solving all the world’s problems was educating women. In fact, I stayed firm to this belief until one day, in the midst of my “education empowers women” rant in my Justice and Peace Studies class, my professor called me out and said, “That seems to be your answer to a lot of things. What happens afterward?” This was my wake up call – so what does happen afterwards? How feasible is it for an educated, qualified woman to enter the workforce if she lives in a misogynistic society? I wanted to become involved with Women LEAD in order to better understand the post-education stage of female empowerment. I strongly believe that without the leadership of half if its population, a country will never reach its full potential.
Talk about one woman who you think has had an impact on your life and whom you admire.
It might be the clichéd answer, but the woman who has had the biggest impact on my life is my mother. Growing up in Mexico, she and her older brother moved out of an abusive relative’s house at the age of sixteen and from then on provided for themselves. Later my mother became the prime caretaker of her younger brother, nine years her junior. My mother seldom talks about her childhood, but when she does, she happily recalls the adventures she and my uncles got into. Today, my mother is a preschool teacher for Headstart, a career that perfectly accommodates her love of working with children and helping others. Surprisingly enough, she often credits her past for molding her into the woman she is today. Although she has always encouraged me I aspire to be half the woman she is – a strong, accomplished woman who always puts her loved ones before her.
What is your most significant accomplishment to date?
As a senior, my close friend Noemi Gonzalez and I started a chapter of an organization called New Global Citizens on our high school campus. New Global Citizens connects high school students to global nonprofits and then gives students the tools and resources to educate, fundraise, and advocate on behalf of their cause. That year, our chapter decided to support the Afghan Institute of Learning, a nonprofit started by Dr. Sakena Yacoobi that educates two of the most undermined groups in the Afghan population, women and children. NGC gave me my first experience with women empowerment. I became a passionate and dedicate advocate for women in Afghanistan and I was blessed to have a group of students by my side that were just as passionate and dedicated. In the end, our efforts paid off. After a year of hosting poetry nights and educating our peers about women’s rights in Afghanistan, we ended up bringing in over $1,500 dollars and sponsoring the education of fifty Afghan women. This is my most significant accomplishment to date. I proudly grin whenever I tell someone that because of the efforts of my team, fifty women can now attend school.