2016-2017 MCN Fellow | Undergraduate University: Brandeis University | Place of Origin: India
Undergraduate Brandeis University student and Posse Scholar Sarah Khimjee was born and raised in India. She came to the States at fourteen years old to attend high school in New York City. All throughout high school, and her first year of college, Sarah thought she wanted to be “pre-med.” But after some thought and acknowledging her growing interest in female empowerment, gender equality, and human rights, she realized that pre-med just wasn’t for her; instead, her passions were in advocacy and social justice.
Determined to channel her passion for social advocacy into an action and not just a sentiment, she started a Girl Up chapter at her NYC high school. Girl Up is a campaign of the United Nations Foundation; it’s an organization created to support the work of the UN. Growing up in India, Sarah witnessed first-hand the disadvantages that girls faced when the tools and resources for education and empowerment were not provided or sparse. Girl Up’s mission to empower girls worldwide and provide them opportunities to grow resonated with Sarah. It was only natural then that she became an advocate for Girl Up, and what better way to do so than to create a chapter for the organization at her high school- her local community.
There were a couple challenges that Sarah had to overcome when forming Girl Up at school. The club’s inception didn’t attract much interest from the student body; many didn’t want to become involved because they were not informed about the issues that Girl Up was advocating. But Sarah was passionate about the work that her club was trying to do and advocating for; undeterred, she pushed herself to create the club and promote it anyway despite its initial small following. Passion and perseverance are vital qualities for a student leader; Sarah embodied these qualities as she built her school’s chapter of Girl Up from the ground. Another leadership quality that Sarah possesses and thinks all leaders, young or old, should have is the ability to communicate. Communication is crucial to creating real relationships between people. In Sarah’s words, “The ability to communicate leads to meaningful connections that stem from joint passions” and a shared interest in tackling a particular root cause. A leader’s ability to connect with other leaders and followers alike is invaluable.
A moment of leadership that Sarah was proud of occurred when Sarah was given the opportunity to meet and introduce Melinda Gates at the Social Good Summit in her senior year of high school. She was able to listen to and partake in discussions about the Sustainable Development Goals, with leaders from all over the globe. With a large focus placed on women’s rights, this event fueled the cause Girl Up was tied to.
After completing high school and matriculating to Brandeis University, Sarah continued to exercise her leadership skills and maintained her relationship with Girl Up. At college, she became the President and Co-Founder of Brandeis’ chapter of Girl Up. Determined to further the goals and mission of the club, Sarah took the initiative to further develop her own leadership skills in accordance. When the opportunity to attend the 2016 Millennium Campus Conference (MCC16) in Washington D.C. came, she jumped on it. On board with MCN’s mission of creating ethical, effective, and engaged leaders, as well as empowered by the speakers & peers she met at the conference, Sarah wanted to be even more involved with MCN. This past spring, she applied for and participated in MCN’s fellowship program. As a fellow, she worked with likeminded peers, networked, and learned invaluable leadership skills through workshops. She said, “It was wonderful to have a platform to talk to empowering leaders in a plethora of fields.” The fellowship was all-around a success. Sarah’s excited to apply what she’s learned at MCN to Brandeis’ Girl Up and all of her future endeavors.