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Friday, August 1, 2014
Lighting the way for women’s empowerment
(Page 3 of 3)
Courtesy Sacred Heart Academy
Sacred Heart students Mia Campbell, far left, Sarah Tanchuck, Nicole Cody, Samantha Levano, Cassidy Pinder and Olayemi Akingboye, who gathered at the Not On Our Turf summit at St. Mary Louis Academy in Queens last November, will hold a candlelight vigil for female victims of human trafficking later this month. Kayla Walczyk was not pictured.

Since launching their multi-faceted campaign in the last few months, the girls have noticed a growing response from classmates, who often ask about the harsh realities that fuel its message. “I think if you live in a state of ignorance and you’re not aware of what’s going on in the world around you, you’re going to be a stagnant person,” Walczyk said. “I think that learning these issues has made me more of a well-rounded individual, because not only do you focus on the local community … but you have a better understanding of the universal definition of woman.”

The school’s campus minister, Veronica Ticas, and theology teacher Mark Trolio, who both advised the girls as they organized the vigil, noted their impressive dedication to their cause, along with the promise of fostering social change for generations to come.
“It’s such a terrible, oppressive state of these other young women,” Ticas said. “[Our students] are in solidarity, and they really are the hope of the future, so it’s really inspirational for the adults as well.”

Through their efforts, Levano said, she hopes her Sacred Heart classmates, along with other young people in both public and parochial schools, will gain a better understanding of the international epidemic of human trafficking and a sense of compassion for women around the globe who suffer from its stigma.

“We’re all about empowering women, and I don’t think at co-ed schools it’s really stressed as much, and I think it should be, because we have such potential, and we’re all so dedicated and committed as women,” Levano said. “I think that if we can try to help those women realize they’re beautiful, they’re worthy, then we can kind of change the tides.”

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