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College of Arts and Sciences


UNCW Students Help Lead First Super Girls Academy

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Super Girls 1

Written by Gena Guthrie; Photo Donna Carlton

As part of a Women’s and Gender Studies Directed Independent Study (WGS 491) course, six UNCW students planned activities for campers who attended the first Port City Super Girls Academy. The camp, hosted by the Wilmington Police Department under the direction of Linda Rawley Thompson, serves at-risk middle and high school students; 54 young girls participated in the free, four-day camp earlier this year at Camp Kirkwood in Watha, NC.

UNCW students studying sociology, communication studies, public health, English, and women’s and gender studies lead the girls in traditional camp activities such as canoeing, hiking and dancing, but they also engaged the campers in activities that cultivated communication skills and fostered self-esteem and empowerment, including vision boards and journals. “This was one of the most difficult yet rewarding experiences I’ve ever had,” said one student. “I pushed myself in so many new ways that I wasn’t expecting at all—I thought I would be pushing my girls, but I ended up pushing myself to step out of my comfort zone just as much. I learned a lot about problem solving and conflict management, and I think I helped my girls to learn more about how to talk to someone when something goes wrong and to express their feelings when they feel attacked—in a respectful way.”

The students also acted as big-sister mentors to the girls by showing them the possibilities of a college education and instilling in them self-worth. “When Ms. Thompson approached me about working with UNCW students, I was thrilled,” said Katherine Montwieler, director of the UNCW Women’s Studies and Resource Center. “Her vision of integrating the campus with the local community is one of the best ways we can share the great work we do in the classroom with younger students who might not yet have seen UNCW as a possibility. I hope now that they do.”

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