Friday, March 13, 2015

The Girls in Pearls: Why We Must Save Sweet Briar College



Education is one of the most powerful tools a woman can carry with her. Any type and amount of education gives women a leg up in our society.  However, a great education is immeasurable. 

What is considered a great education? Some would say it comes down to the teachers, the curriculum or the school in general. I say that a great education boils down to each individual student. I believe that a student can have a great education if their specific educational needs are being met, and if they are putting forth effort and dedication into making the most of the education they are receiving. 

I am a prime example of someone who was drowning in school because my educational needs were not being met. I attended a wonderful public elementary and middle school in the suburbs of Richmond, VA. Many people, including my sister, thrived at this school. I, however, could not have been more lost. 

Many factors such as my personality, talents, learning disability and strong work ethic affected my ability to succeed at a large public school. The large class sizes and lack of individual attention, coupled with my learning disability, made learning in a regular classroom very difficult. My strong work ethic, desire to succeed, paired with my temperament and personality made failing in the classroom devastating to my ego. 

Thanks to my amazing parents, I was able to go to a small private high school in VA called Trinity Episcopal School.  Deciding to go to Trinity was the best decision I have ever made. The small class sizes, individual attention of the faculty, ability to foster my musical talents, combined with the unique environment were just what I needed to have a great education. 

Trinity is a college preparatory school that offers an International Baccalaureate Diploma Program, AP courses as well as an individualized approach to their core curriculum. It was in essence, a more difficult school than the public school I had once attended. However, I went from barely passing in middle school to making the Headmasters list every year along with receiving an IB Diploma in music. This Diploma meant that I went into college already having college credits! 

My high school education was life changing for me. It not only gave me a great education, but it also gave me confidence that I had once lost completely. It taught me how to succeed in life by teaching me valuable life skills and fostering my Christian character. Trinity encouraged me to be physically active in sports, dedicated to achievement, and empowered. It taught me how to be a self-starter, a leader, and a public speaker. 

My high school education helped me to succeed in college and reach my highest goals. I am so thankful that Trinity, and small private schools like Trinity, exist. I would not be where I am now without this education. 

For this reason, I am very passionate about supporting small schools at all educational levels.   Students have different educational needs.   Therefore, it is essential that a wide variety of elementary, middle and high schools exist. In the same way that we need small private college preparatory schools, we also need small private colleges that offer something different than your average large public university. 

Sweet Briar College, located in Amherst, VA, is one of those unique small colleges that is truly remarkable. Sweet Briar College is a small, liberal arts, all-women’s college of about 500 students.  As you can imagine, their average class size ranges from about 2-20 students. Most of the students and faculty live on campus and absolutely love it. The amount of school pride that the students and faculty have is as high as can be. Their colors are pink and green and they ALWAYS rock their pearls.

The students and alumnae that were blessed to attend Sweet Briar College are classy, smart, empowered, confident, hard working women who leave college ready for success in all avenues of life. Sweet Briar College is not a finishing school. The students at SBC are given a rigorous, individualized education.  Students are challenged academically while still being able to pursue their personal interests and talents. 

Virginia used to have a handful of small all-women’s colleges. However, over the years they have dwindled. Virginia is down to three all-women colleges: Sweet Briar, Hollins, and Mary Baldwin. 

Sadly, Sweet Briar College is under the threat of being closed due to financial reasons. The alumnae are outraged and have taken it upon themselves to do whatever they can to keep Sweet Briar College open for the long run. 

Sweet Briar College might not be the best choice for every woman, but for some women, it is the best.  For some, an all-women’s education is what a women needs to feel focused, safe, challenged and confident. For others, the small class sizes and attention from faculty are what students need to have a great education. 

Although I did not attend Sweet Briar College, I feel passionately about helping this school stay open so that the current 500 students that attend can continue in their education, and so that we don’t lose another unique college like Sweet Briar that is so greatly needed. The two women that I personally know that attended the college are exceptional, smart, confident women who are making this world a better place.

I want my children and your children to have a wide variety of schools, colleges and universities to choose from that meet their educational needs. Therefore, we can’t afford to lose another gem of a college like Sweet Briar. There is no other college exactly like it and there are such few colleges today that are even slightly similar. 

If you would like to help the alumnae of Sweet Briar preserve this wonderful college then please visit www.savingsweetbriar.com where you can make a donation, volunteer, and learn more about how you can help. At the time this article was written #SaveSweetBriar has had over $2.8 million pledged out of a $20 million goal. 

Please consider sharing this article and using the #SaveSweetBriar and #thinkisforgirls to spread the message on social media. 

“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” (James 1:5)

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