This blog is part of a series highlighting the exciting accomplishments of some of our outstanding Strong Women, Strong Girls’ alumnae. As SWSG turns 10 this year, we take a moment to reflect on the incredible support that got us to where we are today, while envisioning a strong, united future for the SWSG movement.
Janie Tankard grew up in Clarksville, Maryland and graduated from Harvard University in 2012 with a degree in English and a secondary field in Government. During her time at Harvard, she was a mentor with SWSG for 3 years and the site leader for Viet-AID during her senior year. She was also involved with the SWSG Jump into Spring planning committee. Currently, Janie teaches second grade in Baltimore City, completing the second year of her Teach For America commitment. She plans to teach a third year, and is unsure of her career plans after that.
How did your experience with SWSG influence you? 
My experience with SWSG confirmed my belief that it is vital for young girls to be part of a positive female community, comprised of both peers and role models/mentors.
My experience as an SWSG mentor contributed to my decision to apply for Teach For America and continue working with students in low-income communities, now in the role of a classroom teacher.
Do any specific memories stand out from your experience with SWSG?
A favorite memory I have from SWSG is revealing the printed and bound Healthy Living Recipe Books that the girls had created for their spring service learning project to distribute at their community center. The girls were so proud of the final product they had created and excited to share it with others! It was an awesome moment.
Were there any surprising challenges you encountered during your experience with SWSG?
I was surprised in certain moments when a biography of a woman who I found really fascinating didn’t immediately capture the imagination of my mentees. This challenge allowed me to grow as a mentor/teacher because I would often supplement the reading material with extra photos or information to better peak the girls’ interest. In my role as a teacher now, it is absolutely critical to get the students excited about the material and invested in “why” they should care about what I’m sharing with them.
As we celebrate our tenth birthday, what wishes do you have for SWSG over the next 10 years? 
My wish for SWSG in the next 10 years is to encourage supporting the development of female leaders through the weekly mentoring meetings and outside field trips. Also, plant a SWSG site in Baltimore! I would love to offer SWSG to students at the school where I currently teach in southwest Baltimore City.
This is just one of the many stories of strong women who have been passionately engaged with SWSG’s mission over the last ten years. Join us in celebrating our 10th birthday on June 2nd.

Rachel Van Beaver is a sophomore at Boston College majoring in Communications and joined the SWSG Boston team in January 2014. Her duties for the semester involve a range of tasks encompassing an emphasis on the empowerment of girls and women through the lens of different contexts and generations.