Student activist lives her dream fighting for girls’ eduction

By Lydia Calitri

Photo by Lydia Calitri

As the president of American University’s chapter of She’s the First, junior Michaela Becconsall is fulfilling her childhood dream of providing education to young girls around the world.

Becconsall’s passion for girls’ education began in middle school, but it wasn’t until high school that she discovered She’s the First, an organization that raises funds for young girls to be the first in their families to graduate high school. In addition to hosting fundraising events, her chapter also partners with groups of girls from countries like Uganda, India and Guatemala to provide grants to their communities and discuss issues surrounding gender inequality in education.

“I like that [She’s the First] gives you a platform to be an advocate and be a fundraiser and be someone who is helping others from a young age at a reasonable level,” said Becconsall. “It’s a club that helps kids find an extracurricular they care about and be able to work at that.”

Becconsall said she was drawn to American University because of its She’s the First chapter. She joined her freshman year and served on the chapter’s executive board before becoming president. She said that her work with the organization, as well as her studies in international relations and economics, have influenced her to continue advocating for education inequality. She believes that getting world leaders to discuss policy to support girls’ education will do more to alter this inequality instead of putting more money into girls’ education programs.

“I think that the U.S. State Department first needs to have a strong diplomatic arm that can converse with other nations and speak to leaders about the importance in investing in their nation’s young girls and their nation’s education systems and also our own,” said Becconsall.

Becconsall plans to continue working with She’s the First after she graduates in December through their network of alumni and young professionals.

“I want to be involved in She’s the First in girls’ education for as long as I can,” said Becconsall. “It’s an issue that I care about deeply and I can’t imagine ever stopping caring about.”