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. 
Kate Hayes graduated from Northeastern University in 2010.  She joined the Minds Matter team in 2010, most recently serving as Director of Operations and Strategic Initiatives for the NYC chapter and currently as Director of Evaluation and Program Impact for Minds Matter National.  In addition, she is part of SocialForward. She is currently Chair of the Young Alumni Committee for Northfield Mount Hermon, and also sits on the Executive Committee.  She writes about all things NYC on and is a volunteer with SWSG.
How did your experience with SWSG influence you?  
I’ve seen firsthand in SWSG how much women can impact each other’s lives. The cohorts of women mentoring at Northeastern were strong – and each week they inspired me to do better, be better, and give more to others. To me, being a woman in today’s society is fantastic – but also means having a special responsibility. I consider myself a hard-working, career-focused and compassionate person. I like to think that women have it all – we can now focus on our careers, our families and ourselves.  Is it easy?  Definitely not.  But I think the biggest advantage that women in this society have, is the ability to prioritize and balance.
Do any specific memories stand out from your experience with SWSG?
I think the most profound memory I have was the field trip “Strong Girls go Around the World”.  The day was challenging – bringing over 60 girls to a college campus is no easy feat – but it was also extremely rewarding.  Seeing the cumulative impact that all of the mentors had during the semester was outstanding. To see so many girls excited and invigorated by being on a college campus and learning more about cultures around the world can be summed up in one word: awesome.
Were there any surprising challenges you encountered during your experience with SWSG?
On my first very day of mentoring with SWSG, I cried right after the session. I was overwhelmed and felt that I did a terrible job at everything I had been taught during training. I was understandably nervous for week 2. When I walked in the door, I was shocked.  The girls were running up to give us hugs and say how much they missed us all week.  I was in awe, and I couldn’t contain the joy that I felt at that moment.  It was a beautiful thing, and showed me that no matter what, if you keep going back, and keep supporting these girls, you’ll be making an impact, even if you don’t know it right then and there.
As we celebrate our tenth birthday, what wishes do you have for SWSG over the next 10 years? 
In the next 10 years, I hope that SWSG becomes a household name. I hope that it continues to transform the lives of thousands upon thousands of girls and impacts the lives of so many mentors, just like it did for me. I hope that it continues to connect with its alumnae, both mentors and girls, and can see firsthand what an impactful and wonderful organization it is.  And most of all, I wish that SWSG continues to spread the message that girls are our future and we must invest time, energy and love into making their lives and futures bright.
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.