Meaghan Davis is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of BRAVE Girls Leadership Inc. Meaghan’s initiative to fund and expand this organization was triggered by the film Girl Rising, which promotes awareness of the power of education and the power of girls to create positive change in the world. Over the past two years he has worked to improve and expand BRAVE to different schools and communities. Meaghan has received the Thomas P.Weinland Award, and was also awarde the Dun International Studies Scholarship as well as the Global Citizen Scholarship Award. More recently, she was nominee for the First Year Experience Instructor of the Year as well as nominee for Outstanding Early Carer Professional the University of Connecticut. Currently, Meaghan is in pursuit of a doctorate’s in Sociology with a concentration in Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies. Outside of her work with BRAVE she loves to travel and spend time with family and friends.
● Meaghan, did you always know that you wanted to serve others and help today’s youth?
Yes, I did. I’ve always dreamed of changing the world and making it better in some way. Early on I realized I wanted to be a teacher, I can remember talking to my Mom about this as early as 5th grade. I always knew teaching and learning would be my way of changing the world and having a positive impact. From an early age I also always really enjoyed learning and education. School provided me with so many opportunities to learn, grow and contribute to the community. I just loved it,and I guess I still do! I love working with people. Early on I realized the power we all have to help people and change the world. This is something I have always believed in and I try to pass that onto young people I work with today. My vision of how I will serve and help has changed a bit, but my passion for service and change in the world has not waivered.
● Can you walk us through how you first got started in your career path?
When I graduated from high school I knew I would go to college in pursuit of a degree in education. I wanted to be a high school social studies teacher. I loved the content of history and social studies, especially human rights and civics. I believed in helping students become lifelong learners with skills they could apply to learning across their lifetime. I believed in developing informed democratic citizens and knowledgeable consumers of information. After graduating with my Master’s I got a job teaching at Conard High School in West Hartford, CT. I had an incredible experience teaching there for two years. I learned so much from great teacher mentors, other faculty and of course all of the students I worked with. During my time as a teacher at Conard I developed a girls leadership program that started as a single student project to spread awareness and contribute to a global campaign about gender equity n education. The project was such an enormous success and created such a positive stir in the community that I wanted to capture the energy. From there BRAVE Girls Leadership was founded. For a year I further developed and expanded the program while teaching. The following year the opportunity to return to graduate school presented itself. I jumped at the chance to return to school and learn more about the work and content that I was doing with BRAVE. Inc. so I decided to legalize BRAVE into an official non‐profit organization, expanding it to other schools and communities in the state.
● How did you handle the bumps in the road? Were there any moments when you wondered if all your hard work was worth i?
For me I always try to turn every bump in the road into a teaching and learning moment. Everyday there is something, many things really, to learn and to teach. I work hard to approach all bumps in the road as opportunities to improve BRAVE as an organization as well as all those involved in BRAVE. Especially working with young people its essential to always remember that each of us is learning and that every mistake and every struggle is a chance to get better. That is what this is all about. Bumps are also a great way to stay humble, a bump in the road for me and this organization are very small bumps compared to others. Certainly, there are definitely moments when all of the hard work can be overwhelming, especially when the positive impacts and results are hard to see. When those moments arise I make it a point to focus on all the good that surrounds me everyday. The people involved in BRAVE do a lot of good, I am inspired everyday by people. And when I can’t see the good on the surface I just have to take the time to find it wherever its hiding and remember to smile.
● I’m wondering if you can help understand what you attribute your success to.
I always try to challenge students (and myself) to think deeper about what success really means and how its measured. Often, success is limited to the tangible things people have. This impacts what we think of as success ,how we perceive others in relationship to it and how we work towards it.It is a curious word that means a lot of different hings to different people. For me, I am hoping most of BRAVE’s success is yet to come. However, the success we have been lucky enough to experience so far has come from the courage, inspiration, and hard work of many, many girls within BRAVE and around the world. This energy has been fostered and then spread to many more people through teaching and learning, relationships, service, and endless determination. Our success can be attributed to all of the people who truly believe in the positive power of being BRAVE for something good and who chose to live it everyday.
● What do teens need today more than anything else?
I think that every teen is different and has their own story, therefore what each teen needs more than anything else is someone who loves them for exactly who they are and who they love in return. Every teen needs to have someone who can teach them respect, self‐love and empowerment, someone to guide them and provide opportunities for them to become their best, true selves. Teens need to believe in the power they have and they need someone else to believe in their power to.Everyone needs to know that they are important and that they have the power to make their own choices that will support their dreams. Teens need to know how wonderful they are and how they can use their power to help others.
● What would you tell a teen who was struggling?
To a teen who was struggling, I would simply ask them to talk to me and tell me about their life, to share their story. Sometimes this the best thing, better than anything I could say to them. I would be someone they could talk to or someone who simply provide them with some comfortable space to spend time. I would then tell them that they were more important than they would ever know and that even when they make mistakes or they fail or they struggle they matter very much. I would make sure that they knew I was there to support them through their struggles no matter, no exceptions. I would challenge them to overcome their struggles while providing them with the help they need and believing in them every step of the way.
● Meaghan, what else do you want to tell us about what you do and what you want to eventually be doing?
My main goal for BRAVE is for our organization to continue to grow and improve its service to girls and teens around the world. I would love to expand our programming throughout the state of Connecticut within the next five years and beyond that I hope to expand across the nation. The sky is the limit! Within the next year I am looking to partner with Mansfield Public Schools and implement our programming in this community. As we expand its imperative that we continue to reflect, learn, improve and supplement our work with new ideas, opportunities and resources to better serve our mission. Within the next few years, as BRAVE continues to contribute to local schools and communities, I hope to graduate with my PhD from the University of Connecticut and use my research to better serve BRAVE and the girls of the world.
● Can you please share with all of us something else that I should have asked you?
What do I do for fun? Doing things that make you happy is so important! I love to smile and have fun! While I genuinely love what I do for work and as a student, I also really enjoy taking some time off. I love spending time visiting family in New York and spending time with friends. I travel every chance I get, I think its so exciting to meet new people and see new places. I also have fun reading and watching movies. I am an avid sports fan, I play, referee and coach! And I especially love to root fr the UCONN Women’s Basketball team, GO Huskies!
● How can people get in touch with you if they have additional questions?
Please feel free to contact me via email or phone. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org and my phone umber is 516‐749‐605. Also, you can check out our website at ww.girlsarebave.org
Thanks for your time Meaghan and keep up the god work! Our youth needs more people like you!
Author and Speaker of the Granddaddy’s Secrets teen leadership book series.
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