Duquesne University student & Miss Laurel Highlands,  Ashley Schmider, reflects on her mentoring experience with SWSG. 
What inspired you to support SWSG, and what speaks to you about the SWSG mission?
When I first learned of SWSG my freshman year of college, I had an instant connection to the program.  Being involved in my community was always a major part of my life up to that point, but I felt that joining the growing movement with SWSG would allow me to give back in a deeper sense.  I have been so blessed in my life to have the support of my family and friends every step of the way, and I felt that being a mentor for SWSG would allow me to be the support figure for a girl who was lacking that support in her life.  My family always encouraged the importance of going to college and continuing my education and I feel that being part of the movement that is inspiring young girls to increase their aspirations, and go to college is something that is so special to me.
Why do you think mentoring is important?
In my opinion, mentoring is so important because it shows the power of showing up for someone else.  As a mentor I am able to build a relationship with my mentees and create a support system for them, allowing the girls I mentor to learn from the lessons I teach them, and help them through the problems they experience.  A mentor is there is to share her life experiences, and provide advice that is relatable to the experiences of the mentees. 
As a mentee through the Strong Leaders Program, I experience first-hand how mentoring has aided my life and the lessons I learned through my mentor.  As a woman nearing a career in the professional world, my mentor has been able to talk to me about experiences during her professional career, and share important lessons about communication problems in the workplace.
Being a mentor and a mentee has changed my life and I truly feel that mentoring not only creates strong women today, but even stronger women for tomorrow.
In your experiences with SWSG, do you have a favorite moment or story to share that expresses the impact of the SWSG mentoring program?
Throughout my four years with the SWSG program, I have experienced the changes and growth girls have made after completing our program.  I think one of my fondest memories is about a girl I mentored last year who was a fifth grader, ready to graduate from SWSG.  I could tell she had learned a lot from the program during her third and fourth grade years.  We became very close each week during mentoring, and through encouragement and personal growth, she truly became a leader for the younger girls.  It was so inspiring for me to see how SWSG changed her life and truly shaped her into a strong girl during critical years of her life.  At the end of the semester, she made me a goodbye gift, inspiring me to want to be a strong women like her.