Meet DeAsia Reynolds, a senior at Tyner Academy and a member of Girls Inc.’s peer-to-peer advocacy program, IMPACT (Infant Mortality Public Awareness Campaign for Tennessee). “Before I joined IMPACT two years ago, I really didn’t know that I wanted to go to college. I didn’t even know what infant mortality was. Girls Inc. taught me so much, and that knowledge has helped me transform as a person. I know now that I want to go to college at MTSU and major in nursing.”
DeAsia isn’t the only Girls Inc. girl who has been inspired to pursue a career in medicine thanks to her involvement in our IMPACT program. Girls Inc. alumnae Jamiecia Love and Alexus Smith are also well on their way to becoming physicians or pursuing nursing degrees and putting the knowledge they learned in IMPACT to practical use.
Born and raised in Chattanooga, DeAsia had never spent much time outside of the city she grew up in before joining Girls Inc. “Through IMPACT, I got to go to different cities and different states that I’ve never been to. I’ve been able to bond with girls I never would have met. And I’ve learned how to work with people. Now, I know how to come into a room and speak like I know what I’m talking about.”
IMPACT takes annual research trips to cities with organizations that have had positive results with infant mortality prevention. This past year, IMPACT visited Emory University, and they even traveled to Atlanta to tour and present at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Chattanooga Times Free Press joined them on their trip, and wrote a front-page article on their visit.
DeAsia says that more than anything else, Girls Inc. helped her confidence level: “I've learned how to be a good public speaker. I've always liked talking to people, but when I would get up on stage in front of a big crowd, I was always so afraid that I would mess up. During my first IMPACT presentation, I was so nervous, and I almost forgot everything I planned to say. Now, I still get butterflies, but I've matured. I don’t mind speaking in front of anyone. I love to speak!”
DeAsia’s advice for young girls is to follow your dreams, and believe in what you want. “Always be who you are because being unique is good for you. Network, get to know new people, stay motivated. Get out there and live.”
She encourages all girls to become involved in Girls Inc. “Not only is it something positive to put on your resume, but you get the opportunity to meet so many new people. You have the chance to educate others, travel, bond with other girls. It’s just a whole new experience, and you need those to help you adapt in life. If you’ve never seen anything new, or met someone different, you’re not going to survive in this world.”
DeAsia spent some time reflecting on her thoughts about Girls Inc.’s mission and work. As an IMPACT team member, she plays an integral role in introducing teens to the Girls Inc. Experience: “We’re trying to inspire girls, build up their confidence and motivate them. If they don’t have a mentor, we are there for them, trying to get them in the right direction. Everyone needs that person in your life. You’re not going be the same when you leave Girls Inc. You’re going to be more mature, more yourself when than when you came in.”