Strong women, strong girls check out the Bluff
Published: Thursday, March 15, 2012
Updated: Thursday, March 15, 2012 01:03
A busload of 113 strong girls arrived on Duquesne’s campus Saturday morning to the energetic cheers of strong young Duquesne women. The third- to fifth-grade girls, members of a Strong Women Strong Girls chapters from local elementary schools, came to Duquesne to learn about majors that can lead to exciting careers.
Strong Women Strong Girls is a non-profit service organization that helps girls from at-risk neighborhoods by providing them with young women mentors and role models that keep them motivated to stay in school and go to college. The Duquesne chapter of SWSG is largest chapter of the Pittsburgh branch, with 70 student volunteers. Because of this high number, Duquesne’s chapter is considered one of only two “super chapters” in the country.
After arriving on campus to greetings and cheering from 30 of Duquesne’s SWSG volunteers, the girls heard a speech and then were split into groups and rotated between four workshops, each focusing on a different academic area: theater, education, broadcast journalism and dance.
Each of the stations was hosted by student or professor volunteers, and each featured activities that would give the girls a chance to see the majors in a fun and interesting way. For example, during the broadcast workshop, the girls were given a chance to read headlines in front of a camera, report weather in front of the green screen and then see themselves on TV.
Seeing herself on the big screen was 10-year-old Aamieah Thomas’s favorite part of the day. The third grader from Sto-Rox Elementary in McKees Rocks said, “I just like that you get to be on stage and stuff.”
Thomas is one of the 60 girls from Sto-Rox site,, contributing the highest number of girl members from one elementary school. Because of its size, the Sto-Rox site is considered a SWSG “super site” by the national organization.
Duquesne hosts the field trip to campus known as "Arts Day" for the SWSG girls every year to give the girls a sample of what a college campus is like and the myriad of different things they can learn after high school. The trip is intended to motivate the girls to continue their education into college.
Last year, the field trip focused on science-related majors such as nursing and occupational therapy. This year, they wanted to give the girls a different perspective and focused on arts and education wmajors.
In addition to the annual field trip to campus, Duquesne’s SWSG arranges weekly after-school meetings between volunteer student mentors and the third- through fifth-grade girls from local schools.
During meetings, the girls are taught about strong female role models, including Michele Obama, Nancy Clark and Coco Chanel, and then play games or do activities related to that role model.
For example, if one of the role models was known for her communication skills, after her biography is read the group will play the “telephone” game to reinforce their skill set.
The girls also write in a journal that the mentors are allowed to view. This helps the mentors to get a better idea of what is going on in their girls’ lives and gives them a way to reach out to them if they feel it is necessary.
Julia Giokas, a junior Integrated Marketing Communications major who is the chapter’s field trip and fundraising chair, said “the main goal is to make them feel like there’s someone who loves them.”
“This is bigger than we’ve ever had,” Giokas said of this year’s field-trip day.
During the event’s closing, some of the girls were given a chance to share what they took away from the day. Many had made up their minds concerning their futures thanks to SWSG’s Arts Day, some had decided on their majors and that they wanted to attend Duquesne.
The girls ended the day together with the SWSG cheer “I am strong, I am proud, and I am not afraid to shout it out loud.”