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Fake Friends in High School

by Lawanda Dickens on 04/15/16

A huge concern for many teenagers is having friends, especially in school under the high-pressured expectation of belonging to a group. Weighing in on this topic is Oakland University student, Marcus Hall, with a message for teenagers about the real meaning of a friend. Girls for Global Growth would like to thank Marcus for submitting this post and addressing an important subject.

In high school, you come across all types of people who call themselves your “friends”. When you go to college, little to none of them will matter in your life. This is something I realize now that I am almost done with my first year of college. Looking back on high school, I can see how my so-called friends were nothing more than the root of a lot of drama and problems. Nobody wants to deal with that. Instead, it’s best to stay focused on the true prize, which is school. Real friends will always be there no matter what, but fake friends come and go.

Some of your “friends” just use you to get what they want. Imagine the scenario of the substitute teacher in the classroom and those days when no one really does the work. I’m sure everyone can relate. But when you just happen to be one of the few who actually does the assignments, you can probably also relate to being hounded by your “friends” who want to copy your work. Right, those are the “friends” I’m talking about. Ditch them!

In that classroom scenario, if you were to ask yourself, “Would they do this for me?”, you know the answer would be, “no.” I’m sure you can think of tons of other situations where “friends” come around when it benefits them. That should get you thinking. It’s funny how in high school, having friends is a big concern. As the years go by though, your priorities should be higher.

Nowadays, there is a misguided view of friendship. The word “friend” is taken so lightly, and it seems like few people know the true meaning. Real friends don’t use you or bring you stress. They motivate you and make you a better person. Just make sure you be careful who you call your friends. In reality, only about 5% of your “friends” stay your friends when high school is over. At the end of the day, all you have is yourself, and you owe it to yourself to be a success. You need the right people in your circle of friends to make that happen!

Starting Freshman Year of College: Survival Guide 101

by Lawanda Dickens on 08/17/15

As one of Girls for Global Growth's mentees heads to college this week and several others face high school graduation within the next one to three years, college readiness is the focus of many G3 programs. In the past, local college students have led preparation workshops to raise girls' awareness of what to expect. Supporting the cause to educate young ladies who are anticipating college enrollment are two Oakland University students, Logan McCarthy and Marisa Atkinson, who submitted the following commentary for G3 to include on Magnolias for Girls:

Hey there, G3 high school girls!

It’s Logan (red hair) and Marisa (bleach blonde hair) here to give you some insight into what you can expect from your first year of college. We are both finishing up our summer classes and heading into our sophomore year at Oakland University. Knowing how our experiences went during freshman year, we hope to eliminate anxieties you might have.

First things first, dealing with orientation: Something the two of us faced was group orientation. With orientation in general, there was the constant worry of being on time and the pressure to get acquainted with people who are in your field. At Oakland, we were split into groups based on our field of study. As students with a writing and rhetoric major (Logan) and a general management major (Marisa), we had different experiences. While I was fortunate to enter OU with high school friends majoring in writing, Marisa didn’t know anyone, which is typically how it is when you’re an incoming freshman. Orientation is one event where you’re expected to meet others. Looking back on it now, we just want to say, don’t worry too much. In the long run, it’s not something you should stress over. You have more than just orientation to meet people. Orientation day is so hectic, that you really should focus on the information being given and getting to know your campus.

Secondly, scheduling classes: At first, taking “8 A.M.’s” might sound like a good idea. You might be thinking since you did early mornings for high school, you can handle an 8 A.M. college course. This is both a good and bad thing. As one of us lives in the dormitory, I, Marisa, am able to stay on campus and get to my classes at reasonable times, with the exception of not necessarily eating breakfast. As I, Logan, am a commuter, taking an “8 A.M.” isn’t always the best choice. Gaining the motivation to get up and leave the house to drive to school, I have to deal with construction, traffic, and sometimes idiot drivers. Taking classes around 10:00 or 11:00 A.M. to mid-afternoon tends to be the best option for me. Campus parking is difficult at any time of the day, but it’s always best to make sure you’re wide awake for classes.

Next, if you are planning on staying on campus like me, Marisa, freshman move-in-day is the worst, or it can be. The number one rule is to always be prepared. You should start packing right after you graduate from high school. I’m not talking about personal things but belongings like bedding, bathroom necessities, a microwave and a mini fridge. Though you don’t always need the latter two, they’re a plus when you save leftovers from the mess hall. You are likely to get money or certain things from your relatives, i.e. laundry supplies. That was the best thing with coming to Oakland – free laundry in all the dorms, *cue choir of angels*. When family members ask you what you need, tell them gift cards or cash so you can stock up on toiletries, class supplies, and other stuff. The best gift cards to receive would have to be from Bed Bath and Beyond and Target because they have nice dormitory furnishings, appliances, bedding and just about everything else you’ll need.

Following that, you now get into the start of freshman year. It’s not as nerve-wracking as you might think. It’s a given that anxiety will make an appearance; it happened to both of us. Getting to classes on time played a huge factor in our anxiety. You want to stay on your professors’ good side, and being late won’t help. There are a few things you can do to diminish that anxiety level. Being early to classes is one of the biggest reliefs you could have. With me, Logan, as a commuter, I’ve always been early. If I have a 10:40 class, I am at school by 9:30. With me, Marisa, living on campus, I do my best to be 10 minutes early to each class, especially with “8 A.M.’s”.  Another way to ease anxiety is to talk to people or get involved with school activities; i.e. sports events, Greek life, or any club (there are an abundance to choose from.) If you are living in a dorm, getting to know your suite mates/floor mates is a must. Getting out there will definitely help your stress level and keep you from having a possible breakdown. If, in the off chance, you have a roommate you don’t care for, you have a certain time period where you can have a room transfer; normally this occurs during every semester.

Here’s some sound advice: The library is your best friend, not your worst enemy. It’s one of the best places on campus for numerous reasons. One is that, during exams, you’ll want to find a comfortable place other than your room to study. You’ll find that during exam week, the library will be packed. Being early would be quite the benefit. Another reason is that the librarians are a large help. For instance, if you have a paper to write and you give librarians the topic of your essay and your professor’s assignment sheet, they will help you find either an online source or a hard copy of a book to help with research. Most, if not all, research is found on the third floor at Oakland’s Kresge Library. The library is also a very good place to go when you don’t want to go back to your dorm/house, and you want to relax by yourself. The first and third floors at OU’s Library are almost entirely dedicated to silence, while the second and fourth floors are mostly used for group studying. Don’t be scared of the library; it truly is your biggest asset.

Finally, enjoy life: Being in college doesn’t mean you can’t have fun. Don’t misunderstand us though. Your schoolwork has to be your first priority. But it’s when you focus too much for too long that you really feel the stress of college. Getting out and going to the mall is a good way to break the ice and spend some time away from campus. The two of us actually spend a considerable amount of time off campus just eating. Sitting down somewhere that isn’t a college campus offers relief, no matter where it is.

So, G3 high school girls, we hope our advice benefits you. Getting ready for college is a big step in your lives. We went through a lot of trial and error while figuring things out during our freshman year. Maybe this survival guide that we put together will spare you some of the anxiety that we faced along the way.

Let us know if you have any questions, or simply tell us what you think!

There Will Be Plenty of Time for Boys Later!

by Lawanda Dickens on 02/25/15

G3 gives girls constant exposure to people who inspire mature thinking and smart living. Oftentimes, this exposure comes in the form of local female college students presenting at workshops. Knowing the potential these students have to positively influence the lives of G3’s mentees, we are always grateful to hear them speak with great passion and eloquence about issues they face as young women. A few days ago, Oakland University student, Brenette Shines, volunteered to lend her voice to the young ladies of G3, when she emailed the following narrative for us to post. Brenette addresses a topic that is so prevalent among many girls (especially in high school), “boys”, and she dittos the cliché “mind over matter.”

Hi G3! I am so excited to be participating in this blog and sharing with you the thoughts that I have been mulling over for quite some time.  My name is Brenette Shines, I go by Brie. I am a freshman in college, majoring in psychology.

Seeing as though Valentine's Day has just passed, I’d like to share my thoughts about the woes and joys of boys. If you can believe it, I’ve never been in a relationship. It's so crazy. My friends and siblings were all pairing up, and I just watched. At first, I didn’t even notice since I was so busy caring about music and school. Also, I wasn’t allowed to date in high school (which let’s be honest doesn’t stop everyone). But as for me, I guess that’s one thing that’s sticking with me now that I’m in college. Pretty quickly it started getting to me; then I started questioning myself. Was I the reason nobody wanted to date me? Soon I started developing all these insecurities. Am I too fat? Do I scare people off? Maybe I just don’t deserve to date? Am I not cool, charismatic, smart, fun, or pretty enough for anyone to like me? I tried hard not to focus on my lack of a significant other. It would get me down for days, but all the while – looking at my friends’ relationships – I got a front row seat to view all the dating stuff that isn’t fluffy.

Teenagers are fickle. They think they know what they want, but they don’t. Teenage girls, specifically when it comes to dating, just want affirmation. I’m not sure how many girls realize or would even admit that, but it's true. Girls want to know that guys find them attractive. Every time I have had a guy give me a compliment, even if I know I look like crap, it makes me so happy. Like woah, I don’t even have makeup on today, bless your soul! Getting back to my point, boys know this, and they use it to their advantage. I’m not saying all boys only want one thing because I don’t believe that’s true. I think a lot of the boys who only want “one thing” are mistaken as a representative of all boys. But then again, I could be wrong. After all, I’m not a boy.

Really, while you’re in middle school or even high school, you don’t need to date. You’ll do just as fine if you stay single, hang with your friends, and study. Not going to lie, it doesn’t feel like its better when you’re on the outside looking in, but you’re not stuck thinking about a boy all the time when you should be enjoying life. Why waste time thinking, “Would he believe this looks good on me?” or “I hope she knows he’s taken.” Instead, you could be focusing on you, who you are, what you want, “I love this outfit; it’s comfortable.” Or “I don’t feel like doing my hair, ponytail or messy bun it is.” Also, you don’t have to be jealous of random girls gawking at your man or even just hanging around him.  I mean, I would know. I’ve been single for a long time. Not saying I’m against dating because if the right person came and asked me out, I would totally say yes. I just have standards. I’m not interested in dating a guy who doesn’t have any goals. If he doesn’t care about his own life, why should he care about me? I’m not only interested in aspiring doctors, lawyers, and the like. I just want someone who isn’t sitting in front of a television all day playing video games. From the lyrics of TLC “I don’t want no scrub”, and no one should. Get a job man, you’re not going to be mooching off of me!

PAUSE. I’d like to speak to all the girls who had a boyfriend; then he dumped you, or you dumped him. Whatever the case, “If you caught one, you can catch another one.” Karmin didn’t lie when she sang that! Don’t spend your days crying over boys; they will come and go. I watched my sister date boy after boy, and there are still more mooning over her.

What I’m saying is you are beautiful and smart enough not to fall for these childish games we often play when we’re young. You don’t need to be focusing on anyone but yourself and your goals for a happy, productive life. There will be plenty of time for boys later!

~ Brie

Season 3 for G3

by Lawanda Dickens on 09/21/14

Two years ago today, Girls for Global Growth (G3) was launched, and we are excited about the start of our third season.

While we continue to grow, we reflect on our mission statement, which is “to involve girls in educational opportunities that foster self-assurance, integrity, leadership and compassion”. We reflect also on our motto, “There is no limit to a girl’s value”.

As I think about what we have accomplished and where we are headed, two experiences over the past week reminded me of the many supporters and experiences we have gained, direct results of the goodwill and power of our city. 

On Wednesday evening, September 17, some of G3’s high school mentees attended the launch of author Bill Haney’s book , What They Were Thinking, a brilliant compilation of narratives about extraordinary Michiganders, some of whom are Detroiters, who have made a lasting difference through their leadership. Haney, along with Denese Ilitch, who hosted the event and is featured in the book, spoke to our mentees and encouraged them with words of inspiration. Meeting the celebrated author showed the girls how activism can be accomplished through writing, a concept that G3 emphasizes.

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of attending an outing with another group of G3’s mentees, primarily middle school girls. During a walking tour of downtown Detroit, Cathy Rorai, Docent for the Detroit Historic Society and Special Lecturer at Oakland University, highlighted women’s influence in shaping Detroit’s history. Discovering the extensive influence of women in our area, girls were fascinated by Rorai’s discussion of the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Civil War Monument, especially details about Michigania, a warrior who stands at the top of the exhibit, shield in one hand and sword in the other. Another display that intrigued mentees was the International Memorial to the Underground Railroad. As the girls examined the sculpture, Rorai explained the role women played in securing freedom for the slaves. During the tour, G3’s mentees also learned that Detroit is still heavily influenced by the contributions of two female philanthropists, Anna Thompson Dodge and Matilda Dodge Wilson. Another notable woman that Rorai discussed was Marie Therese Guyon Cadillac, wife of Detroit founder, Antoine de La Mothe Cadillac. Yesterday’s outing was a great lesson on history, a tremendous testament to the power of women, and a strong message to G’s mentees that Detroit is a terrific city with a rich path for them to follow.

Events of the past week were a refreshing reminder of the extent to which others throughout the community around us have participated in G3’s mission and echoed the message that our girls’ value is limitless. We appreciate the communal support, and we look forward to many more years of empowering girls in the Detroit area.  




Under the Influence of Her Mother: Taking Care of Home and Protecting Detroit

by Lawanda Dickens on 07/27/14

Girls for Global Growth’s motto is “There is no limit to a girl’s value.”

Lashinda Houser models this principle, something she learned to do as a girl – even though the odds did not favor her.

Appointed last spring to the position of First Assistant Chief of the Detroit Police Department by Chief James Craig, Houser was born in Chicago to a teen-aged mother, who was only 15-years-old.

Looking back on her childhood, Houser expresses revering thoughts about her mother. “Growing up, we didn’t have much, but my mom always made sure that my sister and I had what we needed. She stressed the importance of us getting an education and not making some of the same mistakes she made. One thing was absolute, my mom’s love for us.”

In 2008, Houser’s mother passed away at the age of 50. “I am so grateful that my sister and I were in the position to take care of my mother during her final year as she battled cancer. We were with her when she took her last breath.  She is and will always be my inspiration to be the best person that I can be because she was that for me and for so many others,” says Houser. 

Crediting her mother for setting a good example by rising to life’s challenges rather than succumbing to them, Houser embraces her mom’s resilience and displays it for own children – Miles, her 14-year-old son, and Morgan, her 11-year-old daughter.

The 18-year veteran of the DPD has a very demanding and unpredictable daily schedule. As she juggles so many responsibilities, her days are often long, stressful and hectic, but her children are her “best stress reliever”, as she puts it.

“We really enjoy each other’s company and look forward to our vacations together.  We also enjoy local outings like going to the movies, dinner, and sporting events as a family.  Our favorite hang out spots are J. Alexander’s, Champs, C. J. Barrymore’s, and Comerica Park,” says Houser. She indicates that one of her primary goals as a mother is to, “prepare [her] children – who are both honor roll students and caring, well-rounded individuals – to lead productive lives and provide positive contributions to society.”

Given the ethos Houser developed from her mother as well as her record of achievement with the DPD, she seems to know a great deal about living productively and contributing to society. She earned a M.S. degree from Eastern Michigan University and a B.S. from Wayne State University. In addition, she has extensive training in crime prevention, psychiatric emergency, critical incident debriefing/conflict resolution, and leadership development. Since joining the DPD as a police officer in 1996, she has progressed through the ranks to become Sergeant, Lieutenant, Inspector, and Deputy Chief – the last position she held prior to her current appointment. These roles placed her in administrative positions within various DPD units, including Psychological Services; the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission; the Human Resources Bureau; Personnel and Recruiting; the Neighborhood Policing Bureau; and Central Events, Gaming Operations and Traffic Safety.

Chief Craig praises Houser for her expertise and commitment. “Lashinda’s knowledge, leadership and experience in the many facets of the DPD were instrumental in my appointing her to the position of First Assistant Chief.  I have not been disappointed. She has more than risen to the occasion, and I could not have made a better selection.”  

Indentifying sincerity as one of her qualities, Chief Craig adds, “Many times in my profession, there are those who tell you what they believe you want to hear.  Lashinda is not one of those people. She speaks the truth. I find her honesty and frankness to be quite refreshing.” 

Behind every great woman is another great woman. As a mother to Miles and Morgan, Houser leads by a key standard that her mother set for her – resilience and devotion regardless of circumstances. She exercises the same principle in her role as the DPD’s First Assistant Chief, who oversees all units.

There is no limit to a girl’s value. Houser’s life is a demonstration of G3’s motto.

What High School Girls and Their Parents Need to Know about Preparing for College

by Lawanda Dickens on 07/14/14

In the game of life, trial and error are inevitable. However, awareness prevents, or at least lessens, misplay.

Fifty-three percent of Girls for Global Growth’s (G3) mentees are in high school with aspirations of attending college. To attract the best institutions, they work hard to earn good grades and high ACT scores. They participate in sports, community service, and other productive activities. Some of them have applied for scholarships, fulfilling rigorous application requirements. Their parents are instrumental in helping them meet admissions demands. In addition to completing entrance procedures, it is important for the girls to also develop a frame of reference for the complexities of college culture.    

Every institution has its own culture. When searching for college homes, girls should examine connections and/or disconnections between the school’s practices and their own beliefs. They must also think about how such values might impact their experiences in terms of race, class, gender, sexual orientation, and other diversities relevant to their needs and interests.

As Interim Director of Wayne State University’s Summer Bridge and APEX Scholars Program, Monica D. Davie plays an integral role in transitioning students into the campus community and providing support services to them. According to Davie, “A frequent struggle among young women is finding an institutional-led focus on what their needs are relative to their backgrounds, their socioeconomic status, their fears and their way of thinking.

Young women with reasonable impressions of what to expect obviously stand a better chance of excelling – in college and in life. To acquire the best that higher learning affords, girls need a holistic understanding of themselves as well as the colleges they plan to attend, an awareness that parents can foster.

Davie encourages parents to, “research female and minority national graduation rates as compared to rates and costs of yearly tuition for their daughters’ chosen school(s); know how well the prospects successfully graduate young women and minorities and at what ratio (e.g. years in college, credits attempted and completed, dropout/return history); and look for opportunities for their daughters to gain valuable leadership and self-efficacy skill sets early-on while attending college.”  

Davie, who also manages and directs the Kales ACT Preparatory Academy for tenth and eleventh graders at Wayne State, stressed the importance of teaching girls how to think strategically about their future and college careers. “Young women must have a plan, in the first semester, to achieve success,” she stated. The plan has to be tailored to each young lady and facilitated by a professional that is skilled at individualized success coaching and professional mentorship.”

During G3’s 2014-2015 mentoring season, girls will participate in an exploratory self-assessment/goal setting process similar to Davie’s recommendations. Related events include a portfolio seminar on cover letter and resume writing; a workshop with local female university students discussing their experiences with campus life and resources; and a writing project encouraging G3 participants to interview college administrators, using the data to produce short narratives. These plans arose from G3’s observations of our high school mentees, some of whom shared their views about college and career.

Cassia Orange, a G3 member who will enter the eleventh grade this fall at Grosse Pointe South, described college as a, “once-in-a-lifetime experience that is fun, educational, and helps you get further into your future and career.” Orange said she would like to attend either Michigan State or Xavier University and major in forensic science because she thinks, “Science is fun, and forensics is very interesting.”

Another G3 member, Adrienne Adams, who is approaching the tenth grade at Cranbrook, explained that college is a place “where you have more freedom in terms of how you can design your own schedule.” Adams added that she believes higher learning also means “you have to teach yourself sometimes.”

An upcoming senior at Detroit’s Henry Ford Academy: School for Creative Studies, Akira Bell, is exploring both Grand Valley State and the University of Michigan. She expressed that, “College will be a challenge to get [her] ready for the outside world, a different environment, meeting new people, failing and succeeding and becoming stronger”.

G3’s oldest mentee, Bell recently returned to Detroit from China under the People to People Ambassador’s program and is considering a couple of career choices. “I thought about the medical field or becoming an English teacher in a China school. The environment there is amazing, and the children are so nice and inviting with a willingness to learn,” she said.  

As evident in their comments, Orange, Adams, and Bell have a sense of what college life entails and, in some cases, which institutions and courses of study interest them. However, like other college-bound youth, once they make the transition, much of their success will be determined by how well they connect with the community and their ability to adapt to its cultural complexities.

As Davie pointed out, “They should enter college with an open mind and willingness to try new experiences that are designed to strengthen their academic abilities. They must know that growing academically, socially, emotionally and culturally will at times be uncomfortable but necessary for them to be successfully retained and to graduate from their prospective universities.”

When high school girls are exposed to the characteristics and customs of higher learning, they are more likely to transition smoothly into college, adapt well to the culture, and contribute to the campus community as leaders.

The Blossom Doesn't Fall Far

by Lawanda Dickens on 05/22/14

Today Girls for Global Growth is launching the blog, Magnolias for Girls, established to promote quality living for girls in the Detroit area and to recognize people who contribute to this cause. The first post is dedicated to all of the women who entrust their daughters to Girls for Global Growth and lend their continuous support to every young lady we serve.

A few years ago, Girls for Global Growth (G3) set out to prevent girls from making poor life choices. Mothers joined the cause as advocates to develop girls into women who defy stigmas and shatter glass ceilings.

As G3 approaches its third season of giving girls in and around Detroit a platform to lead, one of the most powerful outcomes of our formation is the boundless support we have received from mothers, co-signers of our mission to involve girls in educational opportunities that foster self-assurance, personal integrity, leadership, and compassion.

Aside from blessing G3 with their phenomenal daughters, these women show a spirit of exuberance that fuels this organization and sets high standards for girls. Whether securing workshop speakers or chaperoning events, arranging carpools or donating funds, facilitating service projects or simply encouraging girls through words, they exemplify the real meaning of femininity through a display of sisterhood.

As a result of these mothers’ influences, the young ladies of G3 have received incredible exposure. They have toured Spelman University in Atlanta. They have interacted with Dr. Geneva Tatem, Program Director for the Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine Fellowship Programs at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit. Dr. Tatem shared her experiences as an African American female physician in an area of medicine scarcely populated by women. They have also attended workshops, led by Genealogist and Family Historian Joan Graham, on tracing family heritage to understand self-identity. In addition, the girls have explored ways of adopting healthy lifestyles with a team of nutrition and fitness professionals at Go! Beyond Ventures – Callie Bradford, Monique Dooley, and Monica Williams Samuel. Other G3 workshops inspired by mothers in our group were Detroit Police Officer Dale Dorsey’s “Responsible Social Networking and Healthy Relationships” and Author/Human Performance Expert Glenn McIntosh’s “Prioritizing and Goal Setting”. Throughout most of G3’s endeavors to educate girls, mothers are instrumental.

For me, the highlight of every workshop, service event, and field trip is simply watching girls react to new knowledge through countless questions and comments to speakers, facilitators, or tour guides. These opportunities are afforded to girls because of mothers with unlimited visions for their daughters.

Keeping the girls involved in optimal experiences comes at a price, which their mothers gladly pay. Juggling the demands of parenting, working, managing household, and other daily obligations, these women are not immune to pressures that come with the territory of living. I’ve watched G3 mothers prevail in the midst of job layoffs, illness, divorce, foreclosure, death of loved ones, and such. Through it all, their love for their daughters never falters. To keep the proverbial village alive, they make sacrifices. It’s what good mothers do.

Where I’m from, Mississippi, there is a name for women like this, steel magnolias. I’m sure most people are familiar with the magnolia flower. It is very popular in the South but grows in various areas of the country. The magnolia tree is a symbol of splendor because of its extraordinary height and massive flowers, associated with elegance, perseverance, and honor. To be a woman characterized as a steel magnolia is to be the backbone of a family, a source of encouragement, and a leader in the face of adversity. G3 is blessed with a team of steel magnolias who are committed to empowering girls.

It’s no secret that girls mimic the actions of the women in their lives. The young ladies of G3 have remarkable examples to follow!

Guest blogger: Brennette Shines
Oakland University student
"There Will Be Plenty of Time for Boys Later!"
Guest Bloggers: 
Logan McCarthy and Marisa Atkinson
Oakland University students
"Starting Freshman Year of College: 
Survival Guide 101"
Guest Blogger: 
Marcus Hall
Oakland University student
"Fake Friends in High School"