By MacKenzie Riley

MacKenzie Riley, from Waterville, ME is a senior at Waterville Senior High School and President of Hardy Girls Healthy Women’s Girls Advisory Board, where she co-chairs the Girls Rock Committee. She is captain of the Field Hockey team and editor of her school’s paper. She loves to curl up and read a good book and hang out with friends. She was first introduced to Hardy Girls Healthy Women when she went to a Girl’s Unlimited Conference as an elementary school student. She’s a proud feminist and excited to be SPARKing this movement!

Although the Spark Summit was overall an amazing experience and everything was exciting, I would have to say my favorite part was the reception that concluded the day. This is where I met Gloria Steinem. This woman has done so much for the women’s movement and feminism that I honestly can say that I don’t know if I would have these feelings if it weren’t for her. If she hadn’t fought so hard for the equality of women and against sexualization and objectification of girls and women then I wouldn’t be the person I am today.

A lot of my values and morals as a feminist have come from being on the Girls Advisory Board (GAB) of Hardy Girls Healthy Women. I, along with two fellow GABers, was lucky enough to be one of first people in the room to meet this amazing woman. I was so nervous and it felt like it wasn’t even real. But we spoke with her and she was so nice! She focused her entire attention on us when we were talking and really heard what we were saying. When we tried to thank her for all that she had done, she said, “No, thank you!” She said that we were the face of this future movement. I was impressed that she was so humble and appreciative, even though she barely knew us. To me, this is what makes a real hero. It’s not just about saving a baby from a burning fire or a kitten from a tree – although those things are greatly appreciated. For me a true hero is Gloria Steinem. I look up to her, and I hope that someday I can be half as successful, strong, and humble as she is.

To meet Gloria Steinem is something that many of my friends or others who don’t know her won’t appreciate – but the people in that room in NYC did. Women from Hardy Girls who looked up to her when they were young almost began to cry after meeting her – because she is such an inspiration, such an idol.