The Young Women’s Leadership Program (YWLP) is a curriculum-based, after school mentor program which pairs young women from Auburn University and young women from Auburn Junior High School. “Through YWLP, the mentors and mentees (also referred to as Big and Little Sisters) will develop leadership and relationship skills that are vital to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. This program provides an opportunity for teen girls to become more educated and aware of their personal values and goals,” according to the website.
YWLP came to Auburn in 2010 and is modeled after the University of Virginia YWLP which was founded in 1997. YWLP is a nationwide organization dedicated to facilitating the empowerment and autonomy of young school girls. It provides both one-on-one mentoring and structured group activities. Each week bigs attend a one hour human development and family science class about adolescence taught by Dr. Donna Sollie then have an hour meeting with their small group of other bigs. Bigs and littles are paired up at the beginning of the fall semester based on compatibility, after a “speed date.” Every week there is an on-site meeting at AJHS where small groups of about six pairs meet. Here the group goes over a lesson, connects the lesson with real-world situations and have fun playing games. Beyond the class and on-site meeting, pairs are required to spend one hour of one-on-one time each week. “My little sister and I went to an Auburn football game in the fall, and that is definitely my favorite thing we’ve done together,” said Laura Nall, a big in YWLP.
YWLP is beneficial to both bigs and littles. For bigs, you are not only teaching important lessons and skills, but also learning them on the way. Lydia Purcell, a YWLP big sister says, “I have learned how to be more understanding and how to thoroughly listen. Being in a place of leadership like that is intimidating but rewarding.” The mentor program exposes bigs to leadership and friendship roles, the importance of daily choices, knowledge and acceptance of others different from themselves, and a way to give back to the community while still learning and earning college credit!
YWLP is open to all female students at Auburn University interested in impacting a life and furthering their leadership experience. YWLP is a two-semester commitment from August to May. The fall semester counts as three credits and the spring semester counts for two. “YWLP is an incredibly rewarding and character-shaping experience, but it can also be challenging. If you want to broaden and deepen your perspectives, develop meaningful relationships with your peers, and have the opportunity to positively impact a younger girl’s life then this is the program for you!” said Megan Swanson, a current YWLP big sister. Applications are now being accepted for the 2016-2017 school year. Applications are due by April 8 and can be found online at http://goo.gl/forms/khN0a6o5mr . If you have any questions, please contact The Women’s Resource Center 334-844-4399 or email graduate assistant Lindsey Henson at firstname.lastname@example.org.