After graduating from Colby in 2012, Veronica decided to pursue a career in education and joined Teach for America. She was placed in Charlotte, North Carolina and spent two years teaching sophomore English in a large Title I high school.
“I’ve never grown so much so quickly,” Veronica says. “I realized that there was a lot about teaching, and the world in general, that I just didn’t know. I feel really grateful to my mentors and fellow teachers, and above all my incredible students, for showing me how transformational education can be.”
While in Charlotte, Veronica received her Graduate Certification in Education from the University of North Carolina, Charlotte.
Following the end of her two-year commitment to TFA, Veronica moved back home to Maine and took a position teaching English at Biddeford High School. She grew up a town over from where she currently teaches, and she loves the experience of sharing a history and community with her students. Veronica continues to put her Muse training to good use by incorporating conversations about gender and equity in her lesson plans and in her role as Civil Rights Team Advisor. Teaching continues to be immensely rewarding (and immensely challenging), and at this point Veronica can’t imagine doing anything else.
In her life outside of school, Veronica volunteers with The Telling Room, a local creative writing program, and participates in an adult group called Fem Sex that provides space for women to discuss issues of gender and identity.
After graduating from Colby in 2007, Julia traveled and worked abroad for 8 months before settle back in Minneapolis, MN. She worked for a Youth Development non profit called Project SUCCESS for 7 years. She was an in class facilitator, which means that she worked with students in their English class once a month facilitating workshops and activities focused on personal development and goal setting. She encourages you to check out their website https://www.projectsuccess.org/. Project SUCCESS works with all middle and high school public school students in Minneapolis. On top of in class workshops Julia led middle schoolers into the Boundary Waters Canoe base, helped produce middle school musicals and lead college tours for high school students. It was a great job and she is proud of the work she did with them for 7 years. Julia is still connected to the organization and volunteers when she is able.
Julia left Project SUCCESS to go back to school and earned a double masters degree in Social Work and Holistic Health Studies. Her research focused on the use of yoga and mindfulness in working with survivors of body based trauma, specifically sexual violence. She loved school and was so grateful to combine the idea of traditional talk based therapy with a more holistic, body focused approach.
Julia now works as an outpatient therapist for a non profit called Cornerstone. They provide a variety of services for individuals and families impacted by sexual and/or domestic violence. She loves her job and feels very fortunate to do the work that she does. She recently put together a curriculum to explore healthy boundaries and healthy dating for a teenage based support group. Julia loved her time as a Muse with Hardy Girls and includes it as some of her formative time in the classroom. She also worked at the alternative High School in Waterville for teen moms with the Muse program. She still remembers the faces and stories of some of the young women she worked with, and still uses some of the activities in her current job that she used in the classroom almost 10 years ago.
Karima Ummah Jackson
Karima graduated from Colby in 2004 and has been pretty busy since. Karima works at a non profit called GEAR UP and lives in Prospect, CT. GEAR UP stands for Gaining Early Awareness Readiness for Undergraduate Programs. She mentors a cohort of 10th graders (the program started when they were in 6th grade and will follow them until high school graduation). Before GEAR UP, Karima worked in the field of international and multicultural affairs at various schools for over 10 years. She also has a M.S. in Counseling from the University of Bridgeport. Karima married her Colby sweetheart in 2009 and they now have two girls together.
Karina graduated from Colby in 2008 as a Human Development Major and moved to Boston to work as a Development Coordinator at a wonderful non-profit organization that focuses on suicide prevention called Samaritans. After three years of living and working in the city she felt excited to return to beautiful Maine, where she grew up, and ready to embark on graduate school. From 2011-2013 Karina attended the University of New England for her Master’s of Social Work. While a grad student she facilitated a support group for inmates at Cumberland County Jail and was able to draw on the skills she had learned while a muse with Hardy Girls Healthy Women. Upon finishing her MSW, Karina was hired to work at Art of Awareness, a wellness Center in South Portland, Maine that offers individual and group therapy for people struggling with trauma related disorders and eating disorders.
Karina’s experience as a muse relates strongly to her career path. Due to some of her own childhood adversity, she have been interested in working in mental health/social work/social justice from a young age. The experiential learning component of getting off the hill and into the schools had a strong impact on her; I loved being a muse and facilitating girls’ group and my time with the students deepened my interests in becoming a social worker.
Karina loved being a muse with Hardy Girls Healthy Women and it continues to help her in her career. This past fall she opened a private psychotherapy practice, so she is now splitting my time between being a therapist at Art of Awareness and her own practice (www.karinachandler.com) Sometimes when she is sitting with a female client and she tells her about having poor body image, low self esteem, or perhaps an eating disorder, Karina wishes for her that in middle school she could have had support from a group of girls and a muse. Would she still be struggling years later? Perhaps. Would it have made some positive difference in her life? Most certainly.
In 2013 Karina married an amazing man who she met while living in Boston in 2009 and who is also from Maine. They very happily bought a house in Portland together in 2013 and plan to live in Maine for life.
For the past five years, Hadley has been working for an educational publisher, National Geographic Learning, in South Boston, which implements the vision and mission of National Geographic to create motivational learning materials that inspire, excite, and transform learning. Through her work she has had the opportunity to volunteer during work hours once a week for a nation-wide non-profit reading program called “Read to a Child.” She was paired with the same elementary school student for the past two years, and looks forward to meeting her new student soon. She cites her work as a Hardy Girls’ muse as a major influence in her decision to join this volunteer program. Outside of work and volunteering she spends most of time with her loved ones – parents, sisters, nephew, boyfriend, friends and cats – as well as cooking up a storm in the kitchen and going on adventures throughout New England.
After graduating from Colby in 2007, Allison worked at Hardy Girls as the development coordinator and then development director from 2008 to 2011. “Hardy Girls was such a fabulous place to have my first ‘real job,’” she says. “To be part of a team of smart, young women helping make positive change for girls in Maine was really such a privilege.”
After her time in the HGHW office, Allison moved to Boston to pursue a Master’s degree in Children’s Literature at Simmons. Now she lives in Somerville and works in the editorial department at Candlewick Press, a children’s publisher.
“My time as a muse definitely influenced me for the better,” Allison explains, “as did my time at Hardy Girls in general. My eventual career choice- editorial work in children’s publishing- was directly influenced by my work with girls, and in development, where story-telling is maybe the most important factor in success.”
Allison sees the need for sharing stories that portray girls as genuinely multi-faceted, smart, and strong, and she feels fortunate to be helping to get those stories into the world.
Since graduating from Colby in 2006, Kate worked for two years as a paralegal at Pierce Atwood in Augusta. It took her some time to realize that creative writing and teaching were ultimately her passions. She attended The Salt Institute for Documentary Studies in 2009, and worked various odd jobs while freelance writing in Portland, Maine. She received an M.A. in English from the University of Maine in 2013, and is currently pursuing her MFA in Poetry at Boise State, where she also teaches creative writing classes. Her writing has been published in Down East Magazine, Maine magazine, and her poetry has been published in WSQ and Stolen Island, among others.
She feels fortunate to be affiliated with The Cabin, a literary arts center in Boise, that runs the program Writers In the Schools, bringing creative writers into schools as well as community centers and juvenile detention centers. She loves teaching students of all ages, but was especially happy to teach writing camps to elementary school age children this past summer, the majority of whom were girls.
“I’ve been super grateful for the networks of women I’ve met, both in formal and informal settings, since I graduated from Colby,” Kate explains. “Taking Lyn’s and Mark’s classes really opened my eyes as both a Mainer (I’m from Dixfield) and as someone whose life has been shaped hugely by the strong women and girls I’ve had the chance to be around, and to the importance of education at all stages of life.”
Kate will finish her MFA next year at Boise State, and hopes to continue teaching and working with young writers from an array of backgrounds.
Right after graduation from Colby, Emma landed a job at the Chewonki Foundation, an outdoor education organization that offers summer, semester, and school programs. She taught environmental education to school groups and led extended wilderness trips in the summer. After 3 years at Chewonki, Emma returned to the Adirondacks to teach for a place-based college semester at St. Lawrence University, a program she was a participant on in 2007, her senior year at Colby as a capstone to her independent major in Environmental Education. The program site is a yurt village nestled in the Adirondacks, and only 12 students participate each fall. This spring she started a fulltime job at Chewonki directing summer wilderness trips including all-girls adventures.
“I truly believe in that small learning communities in the outdoors can have a huge impact on the lives of participants and leaders,” Emma explains. “All-girls wilderness trips create a safe learning environment for girls to build confidence, find their voice and learn who the are through meaningful activity.”
Emma has also done some work with the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) and has gone on several personal trips, the longest being 40 days paddling the Northern Forest Canoe Trail from New York to Maine.
After graduating Colby in 2012, Hannah spent the summer working as an intern at the Voyageur Outward Bound School in Ely, Minnesota. She helped out with various logistical components of the company’s outdoors trips, but her favorite part was working with the students. She also had the opportunity to help lead a community service component of Intercept, a wilderness therapy course for troubled youth. “There were some tough moments, but it was a really rewarding experience,” Hannah explains. “I would love to work with the Outward Bound community again in the future. The amount of intention that goes into everything they do over there is incredible and inspiring. I learned so much about the kind of educator and the kind of person that I am and that I strive to be.”
She then went to India to work as an Intern for WWF. She spent the majority of her time there working on a curriculum development project, specifically creating an environmental science and leadership curriculum for students and parents living in newly designated tiger reserves. The program aimed to help inform the population about the effects of their impact on the land, how the environment can affect them, what their rights are living within these areas, and how they can take efforts to protect themselves and their environment. Hannah included an Environmental Action Project component to the curriculum, which was largely based on the Social Action Project model for Hardy Girls.
Hannah then returned back to the states to teach swimming and take classes in Chicago to prepare for grad school. She is now enrolled in a Masters of Art in Teaching program at Colorado College and co-teaching high school English.
“I hope to integrate my experiential outdoor education background with my passion for literature and writing,” Hannah describes. “Science shouldn’t be the only class we go outside for. I hope to use this degree to take me to places where I will have the space and support to experiment with experiential learning in the English classroom.”
Hannah recently became the sponsor for the 14ers Club at the school she is teaching at. “I’m very excited to go explore the outdoors with students again!”
After graduating from Colby in 2012, Meg moved to a 12-acre organic farm in Upstate New York to work for The Sylvia Center, an agricultural educational organization. The center runs “Day at the Farm” programs for youth from NYC and the surrounding county. “The work was tiring, but immensely enjoyable and rewarding,” Meg explains. “I learned how to raise pigs, capture the attention of 30 inner-city kids with a single cherry tomato, successfully operate a weekly farmer’s market stall, and, most importantly, grow food and community around food.”
After her season at The Sylvia Center, she traveled with a friend in New Zealand, then with family in Germany, finally settling back in Maine. Propelled by an interest in a lifelong history and architecture, she landed an internship at a historical preservation organization in Portland, Maine. Through this job, she learned that history and architecture were more of an interest than a career path, but she did hone her writing and marketing skills and learned about the rich history of Portland, Maine.
During her time in Portland, Meg volunteered with Girls on the Run, a running-based girl-empowerment organization for 3rd-5th grade girls. Girls on the Run’s curriculum deals with topics such as bullying, peer pressure, body image, community engagement, and true friendship, while improving confidence through running. “I very much enjoyed coaching the girls and watching them grow in mind and body,” Meg describes.
Meg is now the assistant to the Medical Director and a Project Manager at the Fish Center for Women’s Health, a multi-specialty, women-specific outpatient clinic at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “I greatly enjoy working alongside motivated colleagues and inspiring medical professionals,” she says. Next year Meg will take the next step on the path of medicine by beginning a Post-Baccalaurate Pre-Medical program at the University of Virginia.
Outside of her job, Meg runs with friends and practices yoga. She also recently became certified as a Red Cross Swim Instructor; she plans on teaching kids to swim in her local pool. Her goal for the wintertime is to improve her skills and confidence in downhill skiing.
After graduating from Colby in 2009, Elizabeth worked at Harvard Management Company, the financial firm that manages Harvard University’s endowment. She began as an Administrative Assistant and eventually moved over to the Human Resources department. She enjoyed her two years at HMC, and describes, “It’s a company whose mission is incredibly important and they do great work on behalf of Harvard and its students.” Ultimately, though, she felt this cubicle job was not the right path for her, so she went back to school at Lesley University in Cambridge, MA, where she received an M.A. in Counseling Psychology with a specialization in School Guidance Counseling for grades 5-12.
Liz is now a guidance counselor at Walpole High School, located about 30 miles south of Boston. She has a caseload of around 270 students grades 9-12 whom she helps navigate high school and post-high school planning. Her role as a school counselor covers everything from scheduling and college counseling to social-emotional counseling and working with families. “I couldn’t be happier,” she explains. “I love my students and the school community. No two days ever look alike; it is work that I find challenging, fulfilling, and exciting.”
After graduating from Colby, Hannah took an Americorps position with Peace First, a non-profit that teaches conflict resolution in Boston Public Schools. She worked with kindergarten to 4th graders, teaching them about peacekeeping, specifically regarding violence in neighborhoods and conflict with peers. The curriculum also incorporated community service projects. “It was an amazing job,” Hannah says. “I loved getting to work with kids and talk with them about their lives and their neighborhoods.” She also appreciated Peace First’s strong investment in exploring the deeper implications of their work. Though she no longer technically works for Peace First, she is still helping them revamp their 6th grade curriculum. “I’m not getting paid for it, but I’m loving it!” she describes.
After her year with Peace First, Hannah worked as an associate teacher at a charter school, and ended up having a classroom of her own when her mentor teacher left for maternity leave. This experience was a major time of growth for Hannah, as ultimately she realized she needed to seek a different position in which she could get to know the kids on more personal, meaningful level than was possible as an educator.
Hannah is now working as the program manager for Tutors For All, an educational nonprofit that pairs college-aged tutors with younger students. She manages the curriculum development and tutor training, and especially enjoys the opportunities to get to know the students, as well as observe and provide feedback for the tutors.
Outside of her work, Hannah is a FemSex facilitator at the Cambridge Women’s Center. This adult learning program teaches about gender and sexuality by focusing on personal narratives. It allows her to meet people of diverse backgrounds from all around Boston, and brings her Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies background to a whole new, life-connecting level.
Since graduating from Colby with a degree in Psychology, Alana has pursued her passion for working with children and teenagers with special needs. Right out of school, she worked for various summer camps, schools, and residential treatment settings for kids with ADHD, Asperger’s, problems with adoption, and severe emotional and behavioral problems. She then went back to school to earn a graduate degree from the University of Washington. For her graduate school internship, she led girls groups in elementary and high schools, turning again to the Hardy Girls curriculum as a starting point for facilitating discussions on issues like friendship, peer issues, media literacy, and dating.
After working as a psychologist for the public school system in Seattle for three years, she is now in Oakland, CA working as a school psychologist through a mental health agency. She looks forward to starting discussion groups with kids with autism, and hopes to start girls groups in the near future.
Outside of work, Alana is enjoying exploring the Bay Area, especially through hiking and biking.
After graduating from Colby with a chemistry/biochemistry degree, Jessica decided to travel abroad through the Foundation for Sustainable Development, which places volunteers with local organizations and host families around the world. She was placed in Nicaragua, where she worked with a community domestic violence center. She teamed up with the center’s community educators to address issues recognized by community liaisons, such as intimate partner and domestic violence, as well as general sexual education and gender equality.
After her time in Nicaragua, Jessica returned home to Connecticut where she worked in a plant genetics lab for a year. She then moved to DC to start a job with a pharmaceutical development lab, where she worked for two years. In 2013, she enrolled in the University of Washington in Seattle, pursuing a master’s degree in environmental health, with which she hopes to pursue research in maternal and child health.
“I am particularly interested in quantifying chemical exposures to women and the subsequent health effects on children,” Jessica explains. “Understanding how we are exposed to chemicals and where these exposures occur will help us to better understand where we need to address the problems in our world.”
She has found that this field of interest is an excellent way to combine her interest in women’s health and her chemistry background.
Since she moved to DC, Jessica has been getting involved with organizations that provide food, safe places to sleep, and medical attention to homeless populations.
“My experiences as a muse at HGHW really opened by eyes to how many people can and should be empowered, but are often held down by their unfortunate situations, many of which involve more bad luck than bad decisions,” Jessica says. “Reaching out into the community is the best way I know how to give back for all the opportunities I’ve been afforded.”
After graduating from Colby, Emily spent 6 months working as an intern through the Conservation and Land Management program of the Chicago Botanic Garden at the US Geological Survey in Nevada. She was part of a vegetation team surveying potential habitat for a Desert Tortoise translocation project in Southern California. She was then hired to work as a biological science technician and continued to do survey vegetation, track tortoises, and take soil samples in the Mojave Desert. After a year, she went to the Bureau of Land Management in Eastern Oregon and worked on another vegetation crew, this time doing rare plant monitoring, botany clearances, restoration monitoring, and range assessments. “I loved working outdoors and in really beautiful and remote areas,” she says.
Emily is currently in her second year of a 5-year Ph.D. program for Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at UC Irvine. “I wanted to come back to school because as much as I loved my jobs, I felt I needed to broaden my skill set and options so that I could continue to do interesting research,” she explains. After she receives her degree, she is considering either staying in academia or working for a federal or private agency like USGS or BLM.
She is currently working on a project with restoration of Coastal Sage Scrub, a threatened ecosystem in Southern California. She is taking ecophysiological measurements, such as gas exchange, photosynthetic activity, and water potential, of native and invasive vegetation to better understand the mechanisms behind restoration success, and to be able to use that knowledge to increase efficiency and effectiveness of restoration projects in the future.
Science is her passion, so she hopes to find opportunities to encourage girls to pursue STEM and other citizen science projects in Southern California.
“Volunteering with Hardy Girls definitely made me appreciate how many opportunities I have had in my life, and how important a support network has been. It made me want to work towards providing similar experiences for other young women.”