Keylin and Jennifer, empowered young women changing their futures
Keylin and Jennifer, both 16 years old, are not only outstanding students... they also share an incredible family bond. They are cousins and young women determined to transform the world!
They both participated in the initial call for candidates for the SHECAN scholarship. Despite being younger than other applicants, Keylin and Jennifer wanted to begin their journey as a part of this program. So after the initial meeting earlier in 2021 they have begun preparing to apply to the program formally next year. They are working hard on different aspects required in the program and its application process such as practicing formal interviews, research and most importantly focusing on their English fluency. Although EFTC is supporting them at every step this is very much a process where Keylin and Jennifer are taking the lead! They had to decide to take on this challenge, taking the initiative, and it is the students themselves who have to be in charge of all communication regarding their application. They are now on their way with this wonderful opportunity to hopefully receive a scholarship to University in The United States.
The SHECAN program has previously worked with young women in Rwanda, Cambodia and Liberia and is opening up the opportunity to apply for their scholarships in Guatemala for the first time. SHECAN´s goal is to help young women from around the world have equal access to opportunity & see women included alongside men in all international decision-making tables instrumental to solving today's biggest issues: ensuring equality, ushering in peace, and building sustainable growth. The main focus of their program currently is connecting young women with support, training, mentors and finally their coalition of top US colleges who reserve full-ride scholarships for SHECAN scholars.
Today they tell us about their experience so far and their plans for the following year, when they begin their journey with SHECAN.
How was your experience at The School of Hope?
Keylin: It was so good, they (my teachers) taught me so much. Thanks to this support, I have been able to improve myself. I have better skills, more knowledge and can be a better student. I learnt how to face difficult situations and succeed. They gave me a breath of hope, to believe that I can be someone in life. I am very grateful for the support and education given to me, not everyone has this opportunity.
Jennifer: I like that they support us through our education but above all I like that they do not leave us alone. We always have the support of everyone who is a part of the Foundation, they give us advice and support when we have to confront difficult times.
How has the preparation process for the SHECAN scholarship program been so far?
Keylin: At the beginning it was all so new and exciting, now as I have progressed I have to face different challenges. Especially since I had only a basic level of English, and all of their communication and process is in English. So I have been practicing and improving my skills and I have already advanced a lot! It has been a fun process, sometimes difficult, but I have been able to overcome each challenge little by little.
Jennifer: It has been interesting and a good space to learn new things. It has not been easy, especially the process to become fluent in English, but it is a great opportunity and we continue to fight to be successful in our application for the Scholarship next year. I see this opportunity as a platform to get ahead, these opportunities do not always exist.
To you, what is the purpose of this scholarship?
Keylin: The goal of the scholarship is to empower young women from different backgrounds. It is an open space for women, who may not have equal opportunities in life, but who want the chance to improve their futures. Unfortunately because of gender inequality, sometimes opportunities and solutions are not as accessible to young women. So scholarships such as this help to make this more achievable for girls like us.
It is based on young women helping each other. Having a place where we can support each other, communicate and give encouragement. It is reassuring that this space exists.
Jennifer: The goal is to continue our further education in the United States. I want to become a lawyer and be able to help other women access fair and equal rights, because we live with so much discrimination and we don't have access to the same opportunities as men.
What is your goal with this process?
Keylin: My goal is to make my own campaign with other women, to be able to help them, since they are giving me the opportunity to have a scholarship, so if I manage to get it I would like to help other women to obtain an equal one, because many of us have that same dream ... to be someone in life and improve ourselves by supporting each other.
Jennifer: My goal is to have a law firm, as an organization where women have a place where they can count on support to be able to defend themselves from injustices and create jobs so that they also have an economic income.
What plans do you have for the future?
Keylin: I am unclear about what will happen in the future, but I do know something for sure. I want to be independent, graduate from college, help other people, and make the most of the scholarship I received by being successful professionally.
Jennifer: One day in my future I would like to work at the Foundation, to be able to continue learning. To help the children who need it most, making sure they get to have the opportunities that otherwise may not arise. Helping provide them education so that they can improve themselves and thus change the reality of Guatemala a little.
What message do you have for other young women?
Keylin: To other young women … I want to tell them not to let themselves be defeated by society, and the discrimination they face. We all have value and we can succeed with just what we have within ourselves. Do not stop following your dreams, even when you succeed at something do not stop fighting because you can go even further.
Jennifer: To keep following our dreams, sometimes it is not easy to make them come true but we have to overcome these challenges ourselves and this positively, because it is only with a positive perspective that we can get ahead.