For the thousands of girls who have participated in YWCA Dayton girls’ programming over the past two decades, graduating from Girls LEAD! wasn’t the end – it was a beginning.
“I would advise younger girls getting involved in Girls LEAD! to take full advantage of the opportunities that the program may be offering to them – to make sure that they are listening to the information that is being presented to them, because even if it doesn’t seem like it now, it will mean a lot in the long run,” said Morgan Payne, a Girls LEAD! alumna who has since returned as a summer camp coach – and is heading into her junior year at Miami University with a scholarship in hand, thanks in part to her Girls LEAD! involvement.
“The Girls LEAD! executive director, Dr. Rochelle Garner, contacted me earlier this year about a scholarship offered by The Dayton College Women’s Club. I don’t think I would have learned about it otherwise,” Payne said. “It means a lot to me that there are people willing to make an investment into my education, and therefore into my future. I am honored to know that the scholarship committee of The Dayton College Women’s Club believed in me enough to choose me as a recipient of their scholarship and I am very thankful to them.”
A speech pathology major, Payne hopes to work with children and youth – something participating in Girls LEAD! as a middle schooler helped her realize, even though she scoffed at the idea (at first).
“When my mom first told my sister and I that she was enrolling us in summer camp, we both were not happy to hear it. But after the first week of camp, I didn’t want to be anywhere else. Girls LEAD! was a safe space for all of us, and I believe that was when I realized that I am deserving of everything that I want and that I am enough, just the way that I am. Girls LEAD! helped me gain a confidence that I hadn’t ever seen in myself before,” Payne said.
In 2019, Payne – now a thriving college student – returned to coach current campers. “Getting to give back to an organization that poured so much into me was such an amazing feeling. One moment that stood out to me was when we were visiting Central State, I overheard one of the girls telling another that she now wanted to go to college. Despite the fact that she had never been on a college campus before, she had already dismissed the idea of going. In that moment, I was so proud to be part of a program that was giving young ladies the exposure and experience of something so important.”
Registration for Girls LEAD! Summer Camp 2020 will open in January. Two camps will be held in Montgomery and Preble counties June 15-26 and July 13-24. Learn more at www.ywcadayton.org/girlslead.