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The First Time I Felt I Belonged: Eden’s Story

By YWCA Minneapolis
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Eden was nine years old when her mom stumbled across a flyer for an afterschool program at YWCA Minneapolis. At the time, her family had just moved to a new place. She was in a new school, was very shy and was one of the few students of color. She says she struggled to embrace who she was.

A Community Where She Felt Comfortable

She remembers going to her first day at YWCA: they running late and she was nervous to get dropped off – in fact, she wanted her mom to turn around to go home. But by the next day, she was ready to go back. YWCA quickly became a community where she felt comfortable: “When I joined Girls Inc. at YWCA Minneapolis, I saw girls who looked like me. It was the first time I felt I belonged.”

Friendships, New Experiences and Role Models

Throughout her years with YWCA, Eden made lasting friendships, had eye-opening experiences and was inspired by new role models.

Exploring STEM Fields

YWCA Youth participant involved in a science experiment during an afterschool program

She later joined the first cohort of Girls Inc. Eureka!, a five-year program for girls to explore STEM fields. In this program, she had the opportunity to intern at the University of Minnesota and Boston Scientific, getting hands-on experience both in the lab and out in the field. Those experiences helped boost her interests in engineering and medicine.

Planning Her Future

Eden is seventeen now and is planning her future after high school. Recently, she was awarded a Girls Inc. National Scholarship that will help her achieve her goal of studying chemical engineering in college, and pursue a medical degree.

Reflecting back on all her experiences at YWCA, Eden would recommend the program in a heartbeat: “It gave me opportunities to be exposed to women I never would have been able to meet. It’s the perfect environment to grow, discover yourself and be inspired.”

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