Fifty Blacksburg Middle School AWARE girls came to visit their mentors at Virginia Tech recently. The Virginia Tech Women’s Center AWARE program fosters conversations and activities, with university students acting as mentors to sixth-, seventh-, and eighth-grade girls. 

The mentors and girls started the day off with a scavenger hunt around campus. After taking pictures outside of Burruss Hall, counting the tables outside of D2 dining center, writing their names in the volleyball sand court, and getting a picture with a cadet, the group headed to the Honors Residential College, East Ambler Johnston.

The AWARE girls listened to a presentation on college readiness and how dedication and hard work are necessary for getting into college. Caitlin Mitchell of Silver Spring, Md., a sophomore majoring in biological systems engineering in the College of Engineering, said, “I think one of our biggest impacts on the girls is showing them by example what they have the ability to accomplish. Getting into college may not be the path that every girl wants to follow; however, I do believe that each girl has the ability to do well in a college setting.” The AWARE program is dedicated to instilling in young girls the desire to learn and pursue their academic goals.

After a brief question-and-answer period, the girls toured East Ambler Johnson. A resident of the dorm acted as a guide, showing the AWARE girls the kitchen, library, game room, gym, and her actual dorm room. The last stop on the tour was the movie theater, where they watched a video that depicted how women are portrayed in the media.

Carli Kitto of Ashburn, Va., a sophomore majoring in materials science and engineering in the College of Engineering, said, “Body image is such a vital topic to discuss with the girls because it is such a big problem amongst teens and I think it's really important to be critical of the media and how it impacts women.” After the video, the girls were broken into groups and discussed how they personally were impacted by the movie and how they, as young women, are affected by the media.

Afterwards, the girls finally arrived at what they say was their favorite Virginia Tech accommodation – D2 dining center. “Seeing the girls this excited is what being an AWARE facilitator is all about,” Kitto said. The girls filled multiple plates with food, frequently visiting the dessert table.

Every AWARE member received a T-shirt and, at the end of the day, the girls and their mentors got together and signed each other’s shirts. Corinne Moini of Vienna, Va., a junior studying economics and psychology in the College of Science, said, “I would like to think I have had a positive impact on these girls and made it easier for them to talk to people about their problems and even be more confident about themselves. Strong female role models are hard to find these days; however I truly believe that AWARE gives these sixth-, seventh-, and eighth-grade girls someone to look up to.”



Written by D'Elia Chandler of Alexandria, Va., a sophomore majoring in English and political science in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences.
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