Photo courtesy of Priya Mahabir.
At Miami Palmetto Senior High School, students have a wide variety of clubs to join, from honor societies to community service clubs. One of the most popular types of clubs that students at Palmetto join are those teaching the values of women’s empowerment and activism.
Women of Tomorrow, the Women’s Union and Women in Tech are three clubs at Palmetto that emphasize the importance of women in society.
Women of Tomorrow teaches the values of sisterhood and the importance of empowering each other.
“We teach members how to be confident in themselves. We focus a lot on ensuring everyone is okay and asking everyone if they are okay. We want everyone to feel that they are enough and that they have the capability to conquer the world,” Palmetto senior, secretary of Women of Tomorrow and president of the Women’s Union Priya Mahabir said.
Started as a scholarship program, Women of Tomorrow reaches schools all across the Miami-Dade community and provides scholarships to at-risk women. Through mentorships by professional women in the community, the club and organization aims to guide women to achieve their fullest potential. For meetings, the club brings in female professionals to discuss building responsible finances, career options, self-defense/personal awareness, healthy relationships and social media image.
“It is my hope that the young girls in Women of Tomorrow gain the tools to follow their ambitions confidently, and if they do not have the answers themselves, develop the skills necessary to find the resources they need to strive in becoming successful women,” Palmetto math teacher and Women of Tomorrow sponsor Trisha Jarrett Morales said. “I have seen the girls move outside of their comfort zones to create unlikely friendships. This act of camaraderie is what we, quite frankly, need on a larger societal scale. The girls can share their personal dreams while supporting those of their fellow members.”
For Mahabir, the club has had a major impact on her and her high school journey.
“I remember when I was a freshman, I was the only girl on the debate team. I was scared to talk against the boys who felt so confident in themselves. With Women of Tomorrow, I hope I can help other girls become more confident in their skin and show them that their voice or their opinion does not come second,” Mahabir said.
The Palmetto Women’s Union is another female-centric club that Palmetto students can become a part of. The Union focuses on educating members about important women’s rights issues and uplifting each other.
“Women’s Union has brought a sense of positivity and empowerment to our female population at Palmetto through our outreach activities, and it has also allowed girls to come together in a positive way,” Palmetto junior and treasurer of the Women’s Union Denise Vaque said.
During their meetings, the Women’s Union chooses an important topic to focus on each month, then selects a woman that either embodies that topic or has devoted their career to dealing with the social issue.
“It’s important for girls to be taught the importance of empowerment so that they can act as empowering forces in their own and others’ lives. We had a lot of freshmen join this year who are super passionate about women’s rights and empowerment, which just gets me so excited for how the future generations of women will continue to honor the work of our feminist predecessors,” Vaque said.
Along with Women of Tomorrow and Women’s Union, Women in Tech is a branch of Palmetto’s mathematics honor society, Mu Alpha Theta. The branch focuses on closing the gender gap in computer science by creating a stress-free environment in which girls can learn the basics of coding.
“The idea for the club started around a year and a half ago when I noticed the great disparity between men and women in the field of computer science. I started teaching myself how to code first in Python, then Java. During quarantine, with so much free time, I was able to take creative liberty on many coding projects, which really grew my love for computer science,” Palmetto junior and founder of Women in Tech Nicole Quintela said. “Then, that summer I did the Summer Immersion program with Girls Who Code and absolutely loved my experience and wanted to recreate the environment.”
The club provides monthly lessons on coding in Python, one of the most popular coding languages in computer science. Meetings consist of monthly guest speakers, all of whom have succeeded in STEM fields.
“Technology is the future and women are the future. Women must be active in all areas in which advancements are being made. It is up to us to continue the progress that our predecessors have made and ensure that future generations experience equality with the opposite sex,” Quintela said. “It is necessary for Palmetto to have women empowerment clubs such as this one because the young mind —14 to 18 years old — is highly susceptible to everything said around them. If young female students at Palmetto consistently hear that they have a voice, they can do anything they put their mind to and will grow up with that mindset.”
The women’s activism and empowerment clubs at Palmetto collectively serve as an outlet for females at Palmetto to gain confidence, learn about their role in today’s society and enhance their knowledge on societal issues that may affect them.