What does it take to make a leader?
That’s the question we asked when we started MiT. How do we take smart, ambitious, enthusiastic and promising high school girls and help mold them into the leaders of tomorrow? What’s missing in their formal education and training today that will help them storm the world tomorrow? We searched and queried and did our market research and came up with a list of skills that girls in high schools, especially urban high schools, just aren’t learning. We made them our core values:
We call them the MiT skills. These are the skills that, when added to intelligence, skill, ambition, drive, and relentlessness make what we call The MiT Girl. The girl who knows who she is, what she wants, and how to get it. The girl who is elegant, confident, respectful and experienced. The girl who constantly seeks new learning, new experiences, and new opportunities to serve. The girl, who, like the Patron Saint of MiT once was, is a Michelle in Training.
To foster these skills in our MiT girls, we created a program and built a curriculum around each of these skills. Early in the summer we will accept applications from 30 rising sophomore girls from one high school, recommended by the principal, teachers, counselors, and community leaders. Out of that 30 we will choose 10-15 to enter the first class of MiT, the class of 2015. For the next three years, we will work with them in these seven areas:
The first year, they will spend a semester in the classroom, gaining knowledge in each soft skill and writing their own MiT handbook. The second semester they’ll take that learning into the streets, visiting museums, theatres and restaurants, shopping for professional clothes and getting makeovers, even spending the day in the office with young professional women. Throughout the year they will also work on small service projects with female-centric nonprofit organizations around the District.
The second year, they will team up with mentors- young professional women around the city who will correspond with them weekly, meet with them regularly, and take them around the city to learn by example. As juniors, they will also meet regularly with tutors to study for the PSAT, SAT and other standardized tests and to work on building the skills they need for their college applications. They will also work on one or two larger community service projects.
As seniors in their third year of MiT, the girls will mentor the first year class of MiT girls. They will also work with their mentors on their college applications, financial aid and scholarships, and preparing to live on their own. Lastly, they will work together on a large-scale community service project of their choosing.
After three years, the girls will head to college with both the academic and real-world skills that they need to succeed. There is more to the world than what can be learned in a library and it is only through exposure and education that our girls will be prepared to handle everything life throws at them with dignity, grace, and confidence to take it on.
This is Michelle in Training.