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. 
Sarah was a SWSG mentor and Chapter Director from 2008-2010 at Simmons College. She is currently pursuing a master’s degree in public policy, working full time at a Boston hospital and loves to do ballet and read in her free time.
How did your experience with SWSG influence you?  
SWSG is a community of women who support each other. I love the part of SWSG’s mission that states “cycles of empowerment.” This is the epitome of what SWSG means to me. I’ve been in many SWSG roles – mentor, co-director, alumna. When I was director of my school’s chapter of SWSG, I saw how I could lead. I learned the importance of teamwork and collaboration in a way that I never realized I could. Being part of SWSG shows me that women can truly do anything. From science and engineering to politics and diplomacy, women have the ability to succeed at all.
Do any specific memories stand out from your experience with SWSG?
My senior year of SWSG, I had a particularly special group of girls. During our fall field trip, the chapter went to the USS constitution museum. I had never seen such a happy, excited group of girls. Even though the field trip had been very challenging for our chapter to plan, I felt that it was all worth it when I saw all the smiles on the girls’ faces!
Were there any surprising challenges you encountered during your experience with SWSG?
One day, our girls came into the classroom and they looked upset. Their school was located in a neighborhood with considerable gang violence. There had been a shooting that week, only a few blocks from the school. Our mentoring group decided that we would forgo our lesson that week to take the time to speak with the girls. I was impressed with the way that our girls talked about what happened. We bonded even more. That was an “ah-ha” moment for me. I felt like I could handle anything, both as a mentor and in my personal life. That day, the girls taught me more than I thought that I was teaching them. In reality, I think we were both teaching each other great lessons, of compassion, of strength and of respect.
As we celebrate our tenth birthday, what wishes do you have for SWSG over the next 10 years? 
I’m excited to see how SWSG continues to grow and prosper. I love seeing new SWSG chapters popping up across the country – when I was in undergrad, SWSG started in Miami and Pittsburgh. I am looking forward to seeing SWSG expand someday.
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.