Education as Advocacy: Lady Leaders at IAL

By: Sarabeth Weszely, Senior Writer
March 24, 2021

Our founding values create in us an unwavering commitment to protect the dignity of all human lives, promote justice and mutual respect, and advocate for those who are marginalized and vulnerable in our communities. We are committed not only to empowering our students as they fight injustice, but also ensuring equity internally through our leadership and staff, establishing accountability to help us model a more just world, not only now, but for the long run. 

– Excerpt from advocacy statement in response to recent AAPI violence

Women’s History in the Classroom

At Inwood Academy we are proud to have a diverse staff that allows our students to learn from leaders from different races, backgrounds and ethnicities. This priority has been championed from day one by the four women who make up our school Leadership Team, and we find it to be no surprise that their own journeys as women have equipped them to carry out the important work of equitable staff representation. This month, we have been leaning into this aspect of our school culture by celebrating Women’s History Month 

In addition to the many lessons taking place in individual classrooms, our Diversity and Inclusion Committee has continued to create cause-focused lesson plans for our students’ Advisory periods. This month’s Advisory lesson focused on voting rights and how they intersect with women’s rights. 

Here is the latest short documentary from our video journalism class about Women’s History Month! https://www.youtube.com/watch?

Women’s History in the Making

As we continue to call out leadership strengths in the girls and young women we have the honor of teaching, we wanted to highlight a couple alumnae who have become trailblazers in making their entrepreneurial dreams a reality. We are so grateful for the role model these women can be for our younger students, and we hope you enjoy their stories.

“Tell us a bit about your background.”

Germany: I grew up in the Bronx and joined Inwood Academy in 5th grade when the school first opened. The most rewarding experience for me at IAL had to be when I played on the softball team and served as captain of the girls soccer team; leading as an athlete gave me so many memories that I’ll cherish forever. I’m currently in my junior year at Buffalo State College, a Sociology major with a minor in Psychology. When I’m not focused on school, I’m working on my catering business. 

Naiomi: I grew up in and have lived my whole life in Fordham. After my mom passed away, trying to stay motivated in school was very difficult. With a lot of hard work and support at IAL, I graduated in 2018. This was all my mother ever wanted for us, and I am very proud of this accomplishment. I have a tattoo with her name on my wrist and I drew it onto my graduation cap. I now hold a license in Cosmetology and am working to become a full time hairstylist in the near future.

“How did you decide to start your own business?”

Germany: During my sophomore year, I had my own kitchen which allowed me to cook for myself and my friends. People were amazed by my food, and I was constantly asked if I’d consider selling it. So during Christmas break that year, I decided to give it a shot, and that’s where it all began.

Naioimi: I work as an apprentice at a salon and created a business Instagram page for handling inquiries from clients who want to get their hair done by me specifically. I wanted something personal to me so I came up with the name “Teaching Self Hair.” It’s a play on self care, built on the premise of wanting to help people love and care for themselves just a little more.

“How has your identity as a woman affected you as a budding entrepreneur?”

Germany: Growing up, I heard people say I shouldn’t do all sorts of things because I was a girl. As a vocal person, I had to constantly stand up for myself and my beliefs. Many different stereotypes about women affect my daily life as a young female entrepreneur, so I feel like I need to prove everyone wrong in every interaction.

Naiomi: Because of what women before me have accomplished, I don’t have to stay stagnant or obedient to society’s call when I have a vision for my life. I can say no when I don’t want to do something. I can stand up for myself and my career, and my life is what I make it out to be now. I mean, I fricking voted this year! 

“What are your goals moving forward with your business?”

Naiomi: I hope to gain more traction on my Instagram page and help my salon get more good Yelp reviews. Ultimately as a hairstylist, I hope to impact peoples’ lives by giving a little practical love to those who may not always feel beautiful or worthy of it. 

Germany: I started my food business so people could feel at home while being at school. I remember freshman year when dining wasn’t as good as before, I used to be so hungry, ordering McDonalds all the time and wishing I had a home cooked meal. Now I want to make everyone’s stomach happy. With a lot of hard work and sacrifice, I hope to open my own restaurant one day, and have my brand out in supermarkets so I can sell things like my personal seasonings. I also want my Youtube channel and social media platforms to reach more people so that my food can reach more people’s mouths. 

“What words do you have to say to other ambitious young women today?”

Naiomi: I believe in you and I think you are so valuable. Please spend more time with yourselves and don’t ever let people jeopardize your growth or how far you’ve come!    

Germany: Keep going. We are creating history as we keep fighting to be equal. Don’t let other people’s insecurities create insecurities for you. Whatever you believe, you will become. 

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