She’s the First fundraises hope
University of Minnesota Duluth’s chapter of She’s the First held a tie-dye night Monday, Nov. 26 in the Kirby Rafters. It was one of many fundraisers the organization has planned for the 2018-2019 school year.
Current president Maren Friemann estimated they didn’t raise as much as they hoped but cited the timing was not in their favor with it being too close to the return of Thanksgiving break.
She’s the First is an international organization that raises money to send girls in low-income countries to school, according to Friemann.
UMD’s chapter was founded in 2015 by Jefrina Jayaraj. The summer before her freshman year at UMD she attended the annual She’s the First Leadership Summit in New York City.
“It was honestly one of the most inspiring experiences of my life,” Jayaraj said.
After realizing UMD didn’t have a chapter, she knew this was her chance to make an impact. Together with people she met on the freshman UMD Facebook page she formed the executive board and She’s the First was officially at UMD.
Other chapters exist around the country and even globally.
Organization members realize the struggles seen by girls worldwide every day. Whether it is strict gender roles keeping them at home, the lack of menstrual products, or child marriage and underage pregnancy issues, She’s the First’s mission is to help support them financially.
The group does fundraisers to help give scholarships to get girls to higher education. Scholarships cover tuition, boarding, transportation, uniforms, medical costs, textbooks and anything else it takes to get them to graduation day. Getting them through school breaks the poverty cycle they had been in and empowers the young women granted these scholarships. At UMD, they are currently sponsoring five girls from India and Nepal.
UMD’s first scholar was a kindergartener in Jayaraj’s first year. Ruchitha is a young girl from India being supported by the countless efforts put on by the organization's members.
Tie-dye night is one of the many events the UMD chapter has held in their three years.
According to Friemann, She’s the First has done a variety of other fundraisers in the past but this is their first tie-dye night. Past events have included, “Cheese” the First grilled cheese fundraiser, caramel apple sales and 5k’s. The annual 5k, ScholaRUN, was started by the UMD chapter headed by Jayaraj and has been adopted nationally. Usually this event has been held in the spring but may be moved to next fall. Members say they have many other events planned for this spring however.
She’s the First can be a rewarding organization for not only the recipients of its efforts but those coordinating the efforts as well. Jayaraj said as she is getting ready to graduate from UMD and head into a world of uncertainties but full of possibilities it gives her so much joy to think about Ruchita and that she will get to graduate in 10 years. Ruchitha graduation is one of the certains in life because of She’s the First.
To join She’s the First you can attend their meetings that happen every other Tuesday at 6 p.m. in the Garden Room. Their final event of the semester grilled cheese for “Cheese” the First Thursday, Dec. 6.