The Impact of Female Mentorship

In honor of Women’s History Month, I’m excited to share how my experience with Curious Cardinals and the amazing female mentors I’ve had along the way have played a pivotal role in shaping who I am today. Starting my Curious Cardinals journey as a timid eighth grader who lacked confidence, I’m now a senior in high school taking on the most challenging courses. Next fall, I will be attending Cornell where I plan to study Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.

One of my first mentors at Curious Cardinals was Julia, a passionate math major at Harvard. At the end of eighth grade at my school, I was faced with a decision; would I pursue the advanced math track at my school? (A three-year commitment!) Knowing I had struggled in math class for years, I thought it would not be the right fit for me. But that summer, I sought out support to strengthen my skills to prepare for the following year. That’s when I started working with Julia.

We worked together every week for the entire summer and not only did my skills improve, but I also gained so much confidence and, for the first time in my life, I felt good at math. When I returned to school in the fall, I decided to make the brave choice to switch to the advanced math class! Without Julia, I wouldn’t have gained the skills or confidence I needed to challenge myself to take the more difficult class.

As one of Curious Cardinals’ first students, I had the honor to be mentored by Curious Cardinals co-founder and CEO, Audrey Wisch, for the past four years. During COVID, (when I was in eighth grade) I took Audrey’s course Revisionist Women’s History. That was my first real comprehensive exposure to women’s history as a field of study. This course sparked my curiosity, making me eager to learn more and become more involved in the fight for women’s rights.

A year later, I began to work on a passion project with Curious Cardinals for which I aimed to combine my passion for fashion with my newfound interest in women’s rights and advocacy. From there, I founded my blog, Maud, where I interview female founders and leaders within the fashion industry to share their stories, experiences, lessons, and advice with aspiring young girls. Since then, Maud has not only blossomed into something I’m super proud of, but it has also provided me with a special network of strong and independent women that I can turn to for guidance and support as I begin college and consider my future life and career goals.

Throughout my entire time in high school, Audrey not only helped me finetune academic skills like Spanish fluency and writing, but became a true mentor for me, constantly cheering me on and supporting me in every endeavor. This fall, when I was accepted to Cornell, Audrey was the first person I called! And when I graduate this spring, I know she will be in the crowd cheering me on as I walk across the stage to accept my diploma.

Audrey has been such an integral part of my high school journey and I truly would not be who I am today without her. Thanks to her continuous positivity and encouragement, I’ve grown from the shy eighth grader I was when we first started meeting, to a confident and empowered young woman with clear passions and an eagerness to drive change. As I embark on my next chapter, I hope to serve as a mentor to give younger girls the same opportunity I had to see myself in a role model and access my full potential.

Elise's experience highlights the importance of having mentors you can see yourself in. Because of her female mentors, Elise was embued with confidence and passion to pursue her dreams and write her own story. We are so proud of Elise and can't wait to see how she grows from here! Check out Maud the Blog (including Elise's recent interview with Rachel Zoe!) and follow Maud on Instagram.

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