Ms President US, a girls’ civic leadership program, held its third session on Nov. 11 dedicated to an informational session held with CT state leaders.
The girls hit the ground running, beginning the session with a discussion on the recent election. Every participant had thoughts about every aspect of the process, recollecting their experiences visiting the polls with their parents. They described the inclusion of the amendment to the Connecticut Constitution allowing early voting laws to be passed, concluding as a group that any policy that makes it easier for people to vote is a good one.
After a quick discussion about which offices were up for election, the girls talked about their ideas for platforms that could be implemented statewide, brainstorming things like creating more nutritious meal plans for students and establishing anti-bullying campaigns within schools. It was inspiring to listen to young women with such strong opinions voice their thoughts so clearly.
Following this brainstorm was a game of trivia on CT government, which laid the foundation for the bulk of the session.
The highlight of this evening was the Q&A session with two state leaders: former State Senator Toni Boucher and State Representative and Secretary of State-elect Stephanie Thomas. The session was led by mentor Maddie Levi, a junior at Wilton High School. The participants learned about the different aspects of working in state government, starting with the process of running a campaign.
“I did the thing we all do and I said, ‘How come someone else doesn’t fix that or do that?’” said Thomas. “And then one day I said, ‘Hey, I am someone else!’ So I decided to run for office.”
The value of this session cannot be overstated. Beyond simply describing their roles and responsibilities, both Boucher and Thomas went above and beyond to share valuable tidbits of advice.
“I was very shy, given that I didn’t speak English… I never spoke up in school and was… always carrying a bunch of books,” said Boucher. “I had an English teacher… who made me join the all-boys debate team. No girls at all. And it was a mortifying experience. I was absolutely terrible. But after a while, I got much better at it and my self-confidence grew. That’s why you should always get up and speak when you have an opportunity, even when it’s frightening.”
It was clear how intelligent and experienced these two women were. They brought a conversational tone to the session, speaking like old friends, laughing and telling silly stories about campaigning on TikTok and the strange manner in which people dress when answering campaign visits. But they also shared their vulnerabilities with the girls, showing them that their strength lies in their womanhood. Upon being asked if her job had ever made her cry, Thomas spoke of finding value in her humanity.
“As women, sometimes crying is seen as a weakness. I think it’s a strength,” Thomas said. “I grew up very poor, and sometimes when I talk about it, I get emotional. While I was campaigning, I would sometimes cry. People always came up to me afterward and said, ‘I’m glad you’re a real person….’ For young women out there, I say, if you want to cry, cry.”
Boucher and Thomas set beautiful examples for the participants, displaying the grace and integrity that is necessary to help make a difference in politics.
“I had run 14 elections. I won some of them really big… and I had two really big losses,” said Boucher. “It teaches you that if you fail, you just have to try and try again. At the end of the day, you will be rewarded, not necessarily with a win, but because simply [trying] is so valuable to your own life and to the [people] that help [you].”
The session concluded with gifts for the state leaders and group pictures. The participants went home with materials to make vision boards.
Having strong female role models is of the utmost importance for young girls. Ms President US demonstrates that every month, giving young girls the opportunity to speak their minds and reach their full potential.
Ms President US is a non-partisan, non-profit, community-based 501(c)(3) organization, dedicated to motivating and preparing girls to aim for the highest civic leadership positions. For questions or more information, please visit MsPresidentUS.org or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.