Sunny Stars

New Village Girls Academy

I wanted to share about a recent experience that I had. It was such a meaningful afternoon that I couldn’t keep it to myself.

As you might know, one of my favorite things to do is public speaking. Being surrounded by a room full of people is nerve-wracking, yes, but exciting more than anything. Whether it’s 100 people in the room, or 800, I love that energy that you only get from sharing that space together.

This talk that I did recently was different though. There were only 5 girls in the room, all 16 or 17 years old. I visited New Village Girls Academy and we spent the afternoon talking about goal setting, mentorships, and facing your fears.

Before I go on, I have to say, these girls BLEW ME AWAY.

Each of those girls had been through hardships. At their young age, many of them had already had experiences with family distress, abuse, and violence. You’d think they might feel defeated. In fact, perhaps annoyed that they had to meet with someone to talk about planning for the future.

And yet, it was exactly the opposite. I have never seen such motivation, such passion in such a group. When it came to writing our goals down, they each filled the page to the max. These girls shared goals like becoming an attorney, gynecologist, or firefighter. They dreamed of traveling the world, meeting influential individuals, and building stronger relationships with their loved ones. They needed more space to keep writing.

What really blew me away was their hunger to succeed. I have to be honest with you. There are many times when I’m in an audience, often with those who have great families, safe neighborhoods, and excellent schools. And yet when I ask them their goals, they often look back blankly and don’t bother writing a single goal down. While I don’t pretend to know why it is that they don’t want to write anything down, it reminded me of the stark contrast of the girls from New Village Girls Academy.

These girls believe that they can be different. They believe that they don’t have to fit a statistic—they can break the mold and they can beat the expectations. With all the hardships they have faced, it is beyond inspiring to see their energy for life and their will to overcome.

Here is the website of the Academy if you’d like to learn more: https://newvillagegirlsacademy.org/

Let’s remember to never stop setting our sights high, no matter what battles we are braving. We each have our own story but I believe that story can include success. Those girls reminded me of that.

Keep shining,

The Sunny Girl, Lauren Cook

Sunny Star: Dana Gielselman

Hello friends! I hope this post finds you well. I’m sorry for the delay…just when I think life can’t get any busier, it does! I have been working hard on my doctorate at Pepperdine and finding time to write anything but assessment and intake reports are hard to come by these days.

With that being said, I am SO excited to share this interview with a fellow NCL Sustainer, Dana Gielselman. I met Dana this past summer when I came into the NCL Headquarters to film a video. Dana is a fellow UCLA Bruin, Disney intern mastermind, and a total rockstar. I’m so excited for you to learn from this stellar lady. I especially love that she is pursuing a career in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math). She is a reminder that girls can do ANYTHING and I hope that you’ll be that much more motivated after reading her story.

 

1. You had the incredible opportunity of taking not one, but two Disney Imagineering classes at UCLA. On top of that, your team won the competition! Can you tell us more about this experience?

The Disney Imagineering courses at UCLA are by far the most incredible classes I’ve ever taken. For two quarters, weekly speakers from Walt Disney Imagineering would come tell our class about their roles, the process behind creating immersive, themed entertainment, and fun stories about the parks. I was amazed to learn about the collaborative dynamic between creativity and technology at Disney, and I was so excited to be selected to join the second quarter. I then worked in a creative design team with five amazingly talented fellow students. We spent the quarter redesigning a department store model and ultimately presented our project to executives at the Imagineering headquarters. I can’t believe how much I learned; it was one of the most magical experiences of my life!

  1. What was your favorite memory during the Imagineering classes?

Having the chance to work together with an incredible team was definitely my favorite part of the experience. It’s pretty rare to work in a group for a whole quarter and become so close, let alone a group of such motivated, creative individuals. We all had very diverse backgrounds, and it was so neat to see all of our different ideas come together to result in a new, creative solution to the challenge. Getting a behind-the-scenes tour of Disneyland and Disney California Adventure with Tony Baxter—the Disney Legend behind projects such as Thunder Mountain, Splash Mountain, The Indiana Jones Adventure, and Disneyland Paris—was pretty unbelievable, too.

  1. Winning the competition required your expertise in math. So many young women are afraid to pursue a major or career in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math). What has your experience been like as a math major and are you glad that you are pursuing math?

Before college, I loved math because it came naturally to me, and I’ve always found it fun to work with numbers. However, I now love math because it is the greatest academic challenge I have ever faced. I actually didn’t learn what math is truly all about until my second year of college in my first upper division course, Linear Algebra. Math is about taking a statement and explaining why that statement is true or false through logical reasoning. It’s not really about plugging numbers into equations; it’s a way of thinking. Choosing to major in math has been one of the best choices I’ve ever made because it will really help me in any field I choose to pursue.

  1. What encouragement would you have for young women who are considering, or perhaps doubtful, about pursuing STEM?

I would say to not let anyone or anything hold you back from pursuing STEM! The difficulty of science concepts and classes can sometimes be pretty intimidating, but there is so much to learn whether you ace these classes or barely pass. I’ve been in both situations, and it has honestly been so rewarding to see myself grow because of these opposite experiences. So don’t let the challenge hold you back! It’s also important to remember that grades are ultimately just a letter; it’s the understanding of the material that will truly stick with you in the long run if you put in the work. That’s the best part about STEM fields/majors; they’re all about explaining the world we live in, which really applies to anything you decide to do in life.

  1. You have been a National Charity League volunteer and intern. What has this experience been like for you and why are you a part of this organization?

Being a part of National Charity League throughout school and throughout this last summer as an intern has been life-changing. Through the organization, I’ve learned the value of service as I’ve had the opportunity to volunteer with my mom and work with incredible philanthropies such as Ronald McDonald House Charities, Military Support, Family Assistance Ministries, etc. NCL has provided me with so many opportunities to grow and learn leadership, professionalism, etiquette, and communication skills that will continue to help me for the rest of my life. I will also be forever grateful to the wonderfully kind, supportive team at the NCL, Inc. Headquarters for the unforgettable internship experience this summer. As I collaborated with the team on a number of projects, including the launch of NCL, Inc. on multiple social media platforms, I learned more and more about the organization’s impact and incredible work from the inspiring leaders behind it. I can’t wait to stay involved in the organization for years to come and to see how NCL continues to grow!

Keep shining,

The Sunny Girl, Lauren Cook

Sunny Star: Shinjini Das

Hello friends!

As you may know, I am now partnering with CAMPUSPEAK and I am thrilled about this new adventure. Part of what I love about this organization is that I have the opportunity to be surrounded by incredible fellow speakers.

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One of them is the fantastic Shinjini Das, the ultimate “Go-Getter Girl.” At 24 years old she is taking the world by storm and I had to share her story with you. I hope you’re as inspired by her as I am!

Here’s our interview:

 

  1. You are known as the “Go Getter Girl.” What makes you a go-getter girl?

A go-getter girl truly believes that her story will be one of the greatest stories ever written. Her self-worth comes from a deep powerful reservoir of energy within, and she has an incredible amount of mental strength, which drives her to achieve the insurmountable. She is driven and extraordinarily empowered from within, and I am happy to share that I based my globally recognized Huffington Post article, “5 Secrets of a Go-Getter Girl” on my own life and journey as a go-getter girl who seeks to fulfill her own vision of herself first and foremost.

  1. Many girls are shy and afraid to approach others. How can girls overcome the fear to connect?

Great question! What I want all my girls to understand is that fear is an inbred emotion, meaning that it truly has zero basis and only has validity if we choose to validate its worth. I choose to not let fear or indecision dictate my life, and instead invest in ultra high self-confidence, happiness, and soaring levels of high self-worth in crafting my story. Focus on yourself and understand that in order for you to succeed, you must reach out to someone, so in essence, reaching out to someone is a means of serving yourself and your highest purpose. I am sure you respect yourself enough to want to achieve your own dreams, so what are you waiting for? Today is the day to network and overcome your fear to connect with others. You got this!

Shinjini Headshot

  1. What do you want to see for the newest generation of girls?

My greatest dream is to envision the next generation of go-getter girls become fierce women poised to change the world. We desperately need more empowered women in our world, those who do not let life happen to them, but rather make life happen for them. There is nothing more attractive than a woman who recognizes her own self-worth, and understands the steps required to convert her dreams into a reality. Girls and women are powerful beacons of light, and I want to encourage more of us to own our own power in the quest to change the world.

  1. How can we empower women to reach their highest potential?

The greatest gift a woman can give to herself is acute self-awareness and acutely high levels of mental strength. She has to derive her entire self-worth from within her own inner reservoirs of overflowing positive energy, and seek solace in her mind of incredible mental strength during times of indescribable struggle and an insane number of lows. I would highly recommend that each woman develop an inner reservoir of positive energy by deriving inspiration from her favorite sources, and engaging in re-affirming self-talk to build up her unbreakable levels of mental strength.

  1. What do you wish you knew when you were starting college?

Crafting one’s own path, admittedly far more difficult, is infinitely more rewarding than adhering to someone’s notion of how life should be lived.

Want to know more about Shinjini? She’s a Keynote Speaker, trilingual Multi-Media Personality, Huffington Post Contributor, and Brand Spokesperson with a social media following of 41,000+. An empowering and globally recognized versatile talent, she has been featured on ABC, FOX, NBC, CBS, Sirius XM, Forbes, is fluent in Spanish, and was invited to moderate a panel at The Commission on the Status of Women at the United Nations Headquarters in recognition of her global advocacy efforts to empower women and youth. This past March, she was profiled in INC. Magazine as a Global Hero to share her thoughts on broadening international access to education for girls. Follow her journey @SpeakerShinjini and on http://www.shinjinidas.com.

  • Twitter @SpeakerShinjini
  • Facebook Public Page @SpeakerShinjini

Keep shining,

The Sunny Girl, Lauren Cook
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