Boston GLOW is a breeding ground for the modern day superwoman. GLOW fosters opportunities for women of all ages to become empowered community leaders and active world citizens.

Introducing the IGNITE Change Leadership Contest 2013 Finalists!

We are more excited than ever to introduce to our GLOW supporters the finalists of the 2013 IGNITE Change Leadership Contest. The group of young women you are about to meet are incredibly diverse in every way but share one thing in common - a strong vision for the future of women in their communities and strong ideas for how to influence and implement change. 

As many of you know, this year's IGNITE Change Leadership Contest has changed from the last two years. We will continue to award scholarship prizes and laptops to 7 finalists but this year, the winner will receive an additional $1,000 grant. The recipient will use this prize to implement her plan to change the role of women in her community with the support of a Boston GLOW internship and mentoring from the talented females in our Organized Women network.

So, not only will one of these fabulous young women be challenged to voice her vision but she will get to see her plan for change become a reality. We look forward to announcing the winner with all of you but in the meantime are equally thrilled to introduce the young women who were chosen as our top ten finalists!



Jaida Montgomery

I attend Codman Academy in Dorchester, MA.  
I am 17 years old, and live in Mattapan, MA

Who are women who inspire you?  I would have to say the two women that inspire me are my sister Raja and my mentor at my school, Porsha Olayiwola.  My sister because she has been with me through thick and thin, and Porsha because she has helped me realize who I am as a person.  

What is one goal that you have for yourself?  One goal I have for myself after graduating from high school, and majoring psychology in college would be to pursue a career helping children with special needs, particularly children with autism.  

How did you find out about this contest?  I found out about Boston Glow’s Ignite Change Contest through my school, Codman Academy.  I first heard about this contest during my junior year during a community circle when a teacher was congratulating a finalist from last year.  When hearing about the contest during my senior year right before going to college, I thought it would be a good idea to give back to my community after all they gave me.  The ignite change’s contest was a great idea to do that.  




Mia Yee 

I am 16, I live in Roslindale, MA, and I go to Boston Latin School.

Who are women who inspire you?  A few women that inspire me is Kimberley Yee (my step mom), Junko Komai (my mom), and J.K. Rowling.

What is one goal that you have for yourself? One goal that I've made for myself is to graduate from college, and try to be successful and happy in everything I aspire to do.

How did you find out about this contest? My school's librarian, Diane Rodriguez, informed me about this contest.



Maryum Khan

I am 16, I live in Somerville, and I go to Prospect Hill Academy.

Who are women who inspire you?   I am inspired by Marie Curie and Michelle Obama.

What is one goal that you have for yourself?  

I plan to go to medical school and become a doctor.

How did you find out about this contest?

I heard about the contest through a friend




Jwahir Sundai

I am 15, from Cambridge, MA, and attend Cambridge Rindge and Latin School

Who are women who inspire you?  

There is no particular woman that inspires me. However, the most inspirational and influential women beat the worst of odds that world sets as barriers of limitations with outstanding character. These women create success and opportunity. Their lives seen with admiration and previews a potential life path. Women like this take extraordinary measures in creating opportunity and developing their ideal society which paves the way for the next generation. Their knowledge is grand and their consciousnesses about the world they live in is immense. Examples of women that possess these qualities include Aung San Suu Kyi, Tawakkol Karman, Ella Baker, and my mother Boniswa Sundai. 

I consider it my responsibility to stay motivated and use this motivation to empower others.

What is one goal that you have for yourself?  

My goal is to continue this trend of motivation and consistently take it to another level. Whether it be in sports, school, or life; self-motivation is truly the key to success. 

How did you find out about this contest?

I found out about the Boston Glow Ignite Change Contest through my father, Bomani Sundai who excited emailed me about this wonderful opportunity and urged me to seek more information about it. 





Fatima  Shields

I am 18, from East Cambridge and attend Cambridge Rindge and Latin School.

 Who are women who inspire you?  

Helen Keller, Oprah Winfrey and all single parents truly inspire me. I believe everything happens for a reason. Often times one may feel as if the universe is working against them. I like to think the truth is the universe functions in a unique
format to keep the one humble; but allows enough room for lesson and growth.  Helen Keller was a young girl when she lost her eye sight and hearing after recovering from an illness yet she overcame the extremes and is a known scholar today.

Oprah Winfrey rose by her grandmother in the depths of poverty yet she is a self made millionaire and is at the top of Forbes celebrity 100. A driven journalist became a know celebrity in her early twenties channeling her energy towards her passion.
She is also famous for giving back to the world repeatedly.

All single parents inspire me because every day they play two roles and fill two pairs of shoes. I imagine showing up to work and having to cover another employee’s shift, as well as mine, because they call out every day. Some people have every
intention to be a parent but for one reason or another there are single parents who go day to day raising a child on their own.

What is one goal that you have for yourself?  

One goal I have for myself is to love my career so I never have to work another day in my life.

How did you find out about this contest?

My AP Statistics teacher routinely announces memos he receives through email. He received an email from a female faculty member to pass on and spread the word.


Sasha Forbath

Hi! My name is Sasha Forbath and I am 17 years old. I live in Porter Square and attend the Cambridge Rindge and Latin School.  

Who are women who inspire you?

There are too many to list but they range from Eve Ensler to Audrey Hepburn. 

What is one goal that you have for yourself?  

One goal I have for myself after graduating high school is to take a road trip across the country with no predetermined destination. 

How did you find out about this contest?

One of my favorite teachers told me about the contest and encouraged me to apply. 




Rout Asefa

 I am 17, from Cambridge MA, and I attend Cambridge Rindge & Latin School.

 Who are women who inspire you?

My sister never ceases to amaze me. I admire her ambition and drive to succeed and her self motivation inspires me. 

What is one goal that you have for yourself?  

One goal I have set for myself is to reform the education system so that it will be impossible for students to fall through the cracks. 

How did you find out about this contest?

I heard about this program through an email that I received from my guidance counselor.



Huixian "Selena" Li

Who are women who inspire you?

Aizhen Chen is my selfless and fearless mother. When we first came to the United States, she knew nothing about the English language or American culture but this did not scare her. She was determined to provide opportunities for my sister, my brother, and me. Even though she could not speak English, she found a fast food job that serves English-speaking clients. Despite never working in China she worked ten-hour days and quickly moved up to a higher position. She is also the heart of our family. Every time I finish a test or class, she asks me about how it went. No matter how tired she is, she always seems to know when I am down and she reasons and comforts me. She encourages me to be brave and to face my challenges. Her example inspires me to support others and never let fear be an excuse.

Haze Zhang is my Calculus teacher. Unlike my other teachers, who are all American-born, Ms. Zhang is also a young Chinese immigrant. In class, she relates to my classmates and me because she knows about our backgrounds and values. She is an example of a woman from my community who has bridged the gap between the Chinatown community and the greater Boston community. She shows me that I should never give up when I encounter problems. Every time I feel disappointed or challenged or cannot see my future in an English-speaking country, Ms. Zhang’s example reminds me I can also do as she did. She has overcome the challenges I face and still manages to start every class with a welcoming smile and an encouraging joke.

Coco Chanel was an outstanding designer and artist whose career I aspire to live up to. She was a hard- working and ambitious woman who succeeded in women’s fashion, a field that, strangely, was dominated by men. In 1925, Coco Chanel wanted to make women’s fashion more comfortable but still remain attractive. At that time, women thought that unnatural clothing like corsets were normal. Ms. Chanel’s suit made women realize that we could wear comfortable clothing that was also fashionable. Ms. Chanel opened women’s minds. Even though she came from a poor background, she did not believe that her life could be limited and she fought for her success.

What is one goal that you have for yourself?

My goal is to be an outstanding graphic designer who uses my artistic skills and cultural background to create new types of design and reach out to traditionally ignored communities. Our lives need design all the time. In our age, the scope and need for design is almost unlimited.  A graphic designer has to have a keen sense of observation and analysis. The art work also must attract public attention.

As an emerging graphic designer, I am confident I will have a unique vision because I have the awareness of multiple cultural backgrounds. For example, in China and Chinese communities in America, teenagers of both genders gravitate to ke ai—cute—designs and fashions. For example, young couples in China proudly wear matching cartoon pig necklaces, which represent young love. On the other hand, I have noticed that Americans prefer luxurious styles that are inspired by name brand designers. Americans designs emphasize simpler presentations that suggest sophistication and class. In order to be a unique graphic designer, I want to bring the ke ai and the luxurious worlds together to create my own style. As the two cultures work closer in the next few decades, American and Chinese design will also begin to merge.

Design is not only about an artist’s feelings but must also incorporate the needs of the client and audience. As a graphic designer, I understand that my ideas are from cultural traditions, creativity, and community values. Design is not only for me, but also for entire communities because as a designer knows that art is essentially a reflection of our world. The only difference is that designers assist those in different need of help with their art and culture knowledge.

Graphic design will give me an opportunity to reach out to members in the Chinese-American community. I need to look for the best way to explain the language of design for everyone to understand. For instance, I hope to use my ke ai/luxurious style to design posters and flyers which could reach out to the Boston Chinatown community. I will not only use these designs to support for-profit clients, but I also hope to reach out to Chinese women to inform them about services and organizations that can help them face their unique challenges. I would like to do this because I am a proud woman from this community and I think it is important that the rest of world sees who we are and that we step beyond our traditionally self-imposed boundaries.

How did you find out about this contest?

I found out about this scholarship from Ms. Laslly, my supervisor from Artists For Humanity, the non-profit studio that bridges economic, racial, and social divisions by providing youth opportunities in the arts. 


Ciara Sheerin

My name is Ciara Sheerin, I am from Brighton and attend Boston Latin School

Who are women who inspire you?  

The women who inspire me are Michelle Obama, Maya Angelou, and Benazir Bhutto.

What is one goal that you have for yourself?  

A goal I have for myself is to major in social work in college and eventually get a job working in forensic social work.

How did you find out about this contest?

I heard about this contest through the Boston Youth Fund







Heidi Park

Age: 16

Neighborhood: Roslindale, MA

School: Boston Latin School

Who are women who inspire you?

 Olympic gold medalist South Korean figure skater Kim Yuna and Pioneer for Women's suffrage rights, Susan B. Anthony.

What is one goal that you have for yourself?  

To publish a novel in the future.

How did you find out about this contest?

I found out through my school.


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