Pamela N. Njapa-Minyard ’92, who says she realized her potential as a student at HWS, is now striving to help girls in at-risk communities do the same.
As the Executive Director of Tomorrow LEADERS, Inc., a Westchester, N.Y.-based non-profit organization that teaches leadership skills to young women, she has designed EmPower Girls Week, a week-long program geared toward giving disadvantaged girls the abilities they need to excel and achieve their dreams.
“It’s necessary for girls to feel empowered, and this is dedicating a week to self-esteem, self-efficacy, she said. “I thought it was something that could encourage them.
Twenty-three middle school girls attended the event in June. Some came from Denise Gould-Brown’s ’93 school PS/MS 3. Their selection was based on the successful completion of one of the organization’s after-school programs, in which they received leadership training and learned skills in goal-setting, financial literacy, and community service.
EmPower Girls Week built upon what they had learned, and the girls attended a series of events designed to empower them. The first day was dedicated to the power of beauty, and began with Governor Eliot Spitzer proclaiming June 3-9 as EmPower Girls Week. It also included a visit to the Indra Salon in New York City to learn makeup and hairstyling techniques, as well as a meeting with celebrity make-up artist Aisha Ferguson, who discussed the industry.
Participants also learned about the importance of education, and attended a workshop on how to invest and protect their money, which was hosted by representatives of Morgan Stanley and State Farm Insurance.
When considering what inspired her to reach out to young women, Njapa-Minyard attributed her interest partly to the experiences she had as a student at William Smith College. Njapa-Minyard was involved with Koshare, African-American Student Coalition, Latin American Organization, United Magazine, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Photography Club to name a few.
“I was pretty active on campus as a William Smith woman, she said. “It was just the importance of knowing I had a voice at William Smith that made all the difference. I want all young women to know their own voice is important as well.