National Girl Talk Leader of the Year Award:

Girl Talk is fortunate to have thousands of dedicated high school Leaders around the country who are making a difference in the lives of thousands of middle school girls every day. The rapid growth and success of Girl Talk can be directly attributed to these amazing young women. To honor these young women, Girl Talk has created the National Girl Talk Leader of the Year Award, given in honor of our Founding Sponsor, the Bell Family Foundation. This award is given each spring to a Girl Talk Leader in her senior year who best exemplifies the mission and values of Girl Talk and its Founder, Haley Kilpatrick. Stay tuned for more information about how to nominate yourself or another Leader for this award! 


Ron Bell Family Foundation Inspirational Leader Award:

Ron Bell has demonstrated unwavering support for the mission and values of Girl Talk. As a tribute to Ron’s positive influence on thousands of Girl Talk girls, this award is presented to a young woman who has inspired others through her leadership, her mentoring and her community service.

The Give Love Laugh Scholarship was created to encourage high school Girl Talk Leaders to live a passionate and fulfilling life by creating positive change around them. This scholarship embodies the spirit of both Natural Life and Girl Talk and our shared desire to inspire girls to help make the world a better place. Natural Life and Girl Talk award one applicant a $2,500.00 cash scholarship to aid with her college career! Additionally, five chosen leaders receive $200 worth of inspiring Natural Life treasures for their college room!

2016 Scholarship Award Recipients

 

Previous Award Recipients

 

 

 

 


Jathusha Mahenthirarajan (Canada)

National Leader of the Year 

During my middle school years, I had a tough time navigating mental health issues, friendship drama, bullying, and building self-confidence as I felt unreasonable pressure from the impossible expectation to be everything to everyone at all times. Luckily, I had a mentor in university who helped keep my spirits up, and became the big sister I never had. Years later, when my sister entered middle school and I saw her go through similar issues, I knew something had to be done. Grounded in my mission to create safe spaces for girls to share their innermost deepest thoughts, and explore their identities in a supportive environment, I founded the Richmond Hill Girl Talk chapter in November 2015 with the desire to empower girls with an inclusive, sustainable solution to the issues they were facing.

From Cultural Celebration Day to our monthly Feeling Circles to talent shows for the girls to step out of their comfort zones, I was so proud to see our mentees explore, challenge and take action against issues such as body shaming, racism, hypersexualization, abusive relationships, and peer pressure. For the end-of-the-year visual reflection, one of our 7th graders who struggled with self-image, drew her face and split it in half to demonstrate the before and after of Girl Talk. Using words like “stupid, fat, unwanted, ugly, weird” on one side, and “beautiful, generous, funny, powerful, loved” on the other, it was evident proof of how influential mentorship was redefining the way young girls viewed and believed in themselves. Girl Talk has given me the confidence to stand up for what I believe in, regardless of what other people may think of me. This confidence that I portrayed had a ripple effect.

My passion for equity and vision for justice actualized when I volunteered in the surgical wing of a Kenyan hospital. My strong conviction in giving [the hospital patients] a voice pushed me to act.

After founding Richmond Hill Girl Talk, this experience inspired me to volunteer in SriLanka this past summer at a girls’ orphanage where I implemented a week-long confidence-building program.

Selected among hundreds as a "Because I am a Girl" national spokesperson, I was able to broaden the scope of my vision and spread my message globally. I met with global leaders, such as Cabinet Minister Patricia Hajdu and Madame Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, to discuss obstacles Canadian girls face. This empowered me to look further than my position as Vice President of Student Council, and see myself in politics.

To make sure every woman’s voice was heard, I started a blog, "Community Superwomen”, where I interviewed girls about their dreams, and struggles.

As President of Empowered Student Partnerships, I’ve raised thousands of dollars for women’s shelters, directed social justice films, and held awareness campaigns.

I’ve utilized my voice, performing slam poetry about human rights to thousands of people, winning regional competitions for the past 3 years.

I’ve been involved in other positions such as Minister of External Affairs of Youth Health Club, Head of Mentorship for my school’s leadership conference, Prefect, and as an Event Coordinator for nonprofits.

Inspired by all these experiences, I founded my youth-led grassroots community organization, L.I.G.H.T. (Lead Inspire Grow Hope Transform) where we’ve run book drives, free art camps, mental health walks, and volunteering mentorship programs for marginalized children and youth.

This fall, I will be entering York University in Toronto, where I will be studying human rights and equity studies. I aspire to work at UN Women, become an international leadership and diversity consultant, and work on changing policies to advance human rights.

Girl Talk has given me the confidence to stand up for what I believe in, and shaped me into the visionary leader, fierce advocate, thoughtful friend, and compassionate human being I am today.


Darya Khani (Georgia)
Ron Bell Family Foundation Inspirational Leader

Finding myself was one of the hardest things I have had to do. I didn’t realize I had darker skin than most people, until someone pointed it out to me in middle school. I didn’t know my name was so unusual from the “norm” til some told me. I didn’t know my heritage and ancestry was “frowned” upon til someone told me.

These words were shared to me in middle school. Unfortunately, I believed it. And I am not the only one who believed what a bully said. I believed that I wasn’t the same as everyone else. Thus, I shouldn’t demand the same respect as everyone else. I was convinced people didn’t want to talk to me because I didn’t look the same.

Nevertheless, one Wednesday morning in Middle School I was pushed along to this club called Girl Talk. Little did I know the profound affect it would leave upon me. As soon as I stepped foot into the Girl Talk room, I felt this sense of belonging and tenderness I hadn’t before. The high school leaders greeted me with a warm welcome and escorted me to the donut line. I picked myself a strawberry sprinkle donut and continued to my chair where I would sit and stare, in awe of what the Girl Talk leaders were talking about. The topic of the week was Acceptance. My eyes awakened as I listened so carefully to what they were preaching. The Girl Talk leaders mentioned how the greatest gift you can give someone is unconditional love and acceptance. The idea of unconditional love and acceptance would play a huge role in my upbringing.

The awe factor I received on my first day at Girl Talk made me want to come back for more. I made it a weekly priority to attend Girl Talk in the morning. In fact, I made my dad drop me off at school early enough to be the first to pick my donut and listen to the Girl Talk meeting in whole.

Week by week I would learn about a new topic. These topics evoked so much curiosity in me. Through my middle school years in Girl Talk I learned how to be a good friend, listener, and overall better person. My final days as a middle schooler I had a better sense of who I was and what I stood for, and I owed it all to Girl Talk.

Approaching high school I was eager to join Girl Talk. It would be my first year as a high school Girl Talk leader. This brought me so much joy watching the middle schoolers grow and understand what Girl Talk was about. I made it a mission to impact a girls’ life like the high school leaders did to mine in middle school.

High School flew by and before you knew it I was the Head Leader of Girl Talk at my Holy Innocent’ Episcopal School Chapter as a junior. Inspired by the middle schoolers and my studies as a high schooler, I developed a 2 hour seminar to teach girls the importance of coding! You may ask, what does this have to do with anything? Well, I wanted to impact the middle school girls in another way. I taught them how to handle sticky situations, how to be a good friend, and be confident. But I hadn’t yet mentored them in studies. I wanted to share with the girls the importance of school. The privilege of an education. And the value of coding in the world we live in today. I am happy to say the planning for the 2nd Annual Girls who Code is underway.

As I reflect on my Girl Talk journey, I finally realized who I am and what I stand for. I realized that I am lucky enough to be different, so I shouldn’t change myself. I am a proud Iranian girl with strong dark genes that stand out in a crowd! My name is Darya Khani I love who I have become!

Girl Talk brought the best out in me. It made me become conscience of the value of my diversity and the worth of my word. I hope to help every girl realize the beaming light that lives inside them and their individual beauty.

From leading the Student Diversity Leadership Council at my school to volunteering at the Atlanta Community Food Bank I have a passion for giving back. Thus, I am honored to be the recipient of the Ron Bell Family Foundation Inspirational Leader Award.

As I continue my journey at University of Georgia with the Presidential Leadership Scholarship, I aim to uphold high morals and always give back. I am very excited to begin my journey in college as a Biology major in pursuit to give back as a doctor someday. Go Dawgs! And Go Girl Talk! 


Hanna Meyers (Georgia)
Ron Bell Family Foundation Inspirational Leader of the Year

If someone had told me at nine years old that I would love being a camp counselor, would go on to co-lead the camp twice, and would start a corresponding chapter at my school as an underclassman, never in a million years would I have believed that person.

In fifth grade, the middle school counselor distributed flyers for a Girl Talk camp, and being nine, I read “arts and crafts” and decided that I wanted to sign up. I was too shy to ask my friends to join me, so I attended camp by myself. Just one week of camp was enough to change my world, and I wanted to start a chapter so I could share what I learned with my school’s community. I returned to camp every summer, and in ninth grade, I became a counselor for the first time. I was eager to be behind the scenes of all the “Girl Talk magic,” but I was terrified of being in the spotlight. I ended up loving Girl Talk even more, and I signed up for as many Girl Talk-related events as I could, including the LeaderU summit to Washington, D.C., in July 2014 and the LeadHERship summit to Camp Twin Lakes in Winder, GA, in November 2015.

In spring 2014, I began planning for my chapter, and in the fall of my sophomore year, Galloway Girl Talk (GGT) finally became a reality. GGT was my favorite part of the day for three years, and I poured all the love I had into the chapter so I could inspire girls in the same way that Girl Talk inspired me in sixth grade. As a junior, I joined Girl Talk’s Teen Advisory Board (TAB), and it provided another space for me to learn about effective leadership and to continue to serve Girl Talk outside of camp and GGT. 

In spring 2016, Girl Talk offered me a position as Co-Lead Counselor at camp. I had never even dreamed of having the opportunity to run camp; I thought I was too quiet to be that person, but I realized I was ready to let go of shy, nine-year-old me and embrace the mature, confident leader I had become. On the last day of camp in my second year as Co-Lead Counselor, Girl Talk chose me as the co-recipient of the Ron Bell Family Foundation Inspirational Leader Award, and I am honored to share this huge recognition with Darya Khani, one of the girls I grew up with in Girl Talk.

In high school, I chose a few passions – Girl Talk included – and immersed myself in them. I started a grammar club before starting GGT; was a four-year singles starter on the varsity tennis team and was co-captain as a senior; was a coach for the Universal Tennis Academy for two years; and was an intern for Galloway’s communications department for three years. 

I now attend Elon University where I plan to major in communications design. Outside the classroom, I plan to join Elon’s club tennis team; assist with the yearbook and/or student-run newspaper; and hopefully help Elon’s own communications department and find a position similar to the internship I held at Galloway. In addition, I plan to start a Girl Talk chapter near Elon, and when I have the opportunity to study abroad, I hope to start additional chapters wherever I go.

Mahatma Gandhi once said, “In a gentle way, you can shake the world.” Before Girl Talk, I let my introversion consume me because I had no idea a “quiet leader” could exist. I relied heavily on my peers to be the first to speak up or to take action. Now, I know a quiet leader is exactly who I am, and through Girl Talk, I found a balance between using my voice and letting others use theirs. But the most fulfilling of all, I am discovering opportunities every day to encourage others to find their balance as well. Thank you, Girl Talk, for believing in me when I did not know how to; for providing the resources I needed to reach the potential I did not know I had; and for changing my life when I thought I would always be quiet. I am so grateful to be able to share my knowledge and inspire the world one girl at a time.

 

 

Katie Pleiss

Natural Life Give, Love, Laugh Winner

I began my involvement with Girl Talk during my freshman year. Despite finding new friends and successfully transitioning to high school, my freshman year was fairly unremarkable; I was not involved in many clubs and I did not really feel I had a purpose. All of this changed when my friend, Hanna Meyers, asked for my help starting a Girl Talk chapter at our school. Because I felt I needed to join something, I agreed to help, knowing very little about what Girl Talk entailed. I signed up to be a counselor at Girl Talk camp that summer to learn more about the organization and immediately discovered the passion that I was waiting to find. I saw girls who were once shy radiate confidence, and all they really needed was love and support. I quickly realized that I needed to recreate this in my school. Girl Talk camp helped me discover a passion I had for helping girls gain the confidence they deserve.

Sophomore year came quickly, and I started work on the chapter right away. By September, we had 20 girls attending regularly. My passion for female mentorship did not stop there; I joined Teen Advisory Board (TAB) to help Girl Talk grow and to gain insight from mentors, myself. I also worked with the administration at my sister’s middle school, Springmont, to extend the Galloway chapter and mentor the girls there. My plate was full of Girl Talk activities, but I could see the impact I was making, which made it all worth it.

By the time senior year came along, my passion for service was clear. Because of this, the faculty at my school suggested I apply to the GivingPoint Institute, a social entrepreneurship program where high school students can learn how to start their own nonprofit project. I was accepted to GivingPoint, and, with Girl Talk as the inspiration, I decided to start Lead to Learn, a tutoring and mentoring program where high school girls tutor and mentor middle school girls at public middle schools. I knew that public schools can be under-resourced and hoped to implement a program where girls would get individual attention so that they could stay motivated to succeed in school and learn to handle difficult social situations. The project was not easy; it tested my abilities and leadership skills. However, when we started at Sutton Middle School in January, it was a quick success. We currently have fifteen girls who attend Lead to Learn weekly so that they can improve their grades and also gain insight during our discussions on topics of their choice.

I absolutely love Girl Talk and simply cannot express how grateful I am to have been apart of this organization. I have been taught so many valuable leadership skills and have met so many inspiring people during my time with Girl Talk, and I know this knowledge will stay with me throughout my life.

 


Hanna Meyers (Georgia)
Ron Bell Family Foundation Inspirational Leader of the Year

 

If someone had told me at nine years old that I would love being a camp counselor, would go on to co-lead the camp twice, and would start a corresponding chapter at my school as an underclassman, never in a million years would I have believed that person.

In fifth grade, the middle school counselor distributed flyers for a Girl Talk camp, and being nine, I read “arts and crafts” and decided that I wanted to sign up. I was too shy to ask my friends to join me, so I attended camp by myself. Just one week of camp was enough to change my world, and I wanted to start a chapter so I could share what I learned with my school’s community. I returned to camp every summer, and in ninth grade, I became a counselor for the first time. I was eager to be behind the scenes of all the “Girl Talk magic,” but I was terrified of being in the spotlight. I ended up loving Girl Talk even more, and I signed up for as many Girl Talk-related events as I could, including the LeaderU summit to Washington, D.C., in July 2014 and the LeadHERship summit to Camp Twin Lakes in Winder, GA, in November 2015.

In spring 2014, I began planning for my chapter, and in the fall of my sophomore year, Galloway Girl Talk (GGT) finally became a reality. GGT was my favorite part of the day for three years, and I poured all the love I had into the chapter so I could inspire girls in the same way that Girl Talk inspired me in sixth grade. As a junior, I joined Girl Talk’s Teen Advisory Board (TAB), and it provided another space for me to learn about effective leadership and to continue to serve Girl Talk outside of camp and GGT. 

In spring 2016, Girl Talk offered me a position as Co-Lead Counselor at camp. I had never even dreamed of having the opportunity to run camp; I thought I was too quiet to be that person, but I realized I was ready to let go of shy, nine-year-old me and embrace the mature, confident leader I had become. On the last day of camp in my second year as Co-Lead Counselor, Girl Talk chose me as the co-recipient of the Ron Bell Family Foundation Inspirational Leader Award, and I am honored to share this huge recognition with Darya Khani, one of the girls I grew up with in Girl Talk.

In high school, I chose a few passions – Girl Talk included – and immersed myself in them. I started a grammar club before starting GGT; was a four-year singles starter on the varsity tennis team and was co-captain as a senior; was a coach for the Universal Tennis Academy for two years; and was an intern for Galloway’s communications department for three years. 

I now attend Elon University where I plan to major in communications design. Outside the classroom, I plan to join Elon’s club tennis team; assist with the yearbook and/or student-run newspaper; and hopefully help Elon’s own communications department and find a position similar to the internship I held at Galloway. In addition, I plan to start a Girl Talk chapter near Elon, and when I have the opportunity to study abroad, I hope to start additional chapters wherever I go.

Mahatma Gandhi once said, “In a gentle way, you can shake the world.” Before Girl Talk, I let my introversion consume me because I had no idea a “quiet leader” could exist. I relied heavily on my peers to be the first to speak up or to take action. Now, I know a quiet leader is exactly who I am, and through Girl Talk, I found a balance between using my voice and letting others use theirs. But the most fulfilling of all, I am discovering opportunities every day to encourage others to find their balance as well. Thank you, Girl Talk, for believing in me when I did not know how to; for providing the resources I needed to reach the potential I did not know I had; and for changing my life when I thought I would always be quiet. I am so grateful to be able to share my knowledge and inspire the world one girl at a time.