“It really inspired me to do more to help girls like them, or help girls in my own community become more aware of the issue.”
Name: Jillian Myers
Hometown: East Amherst, NY
Education: Williamsville East High School
Transformational Experience: Thailand: In & Beyond the Classroom
Making an Impact: Organized outreach initiatives related to domestic violence
When it comes to community outreach, Jillian Myers is no slouch.
As a child she volunteered with her local Greek Festival; as an 8th grader, Jillian spoke at a public hearing to modify the Clean Indoor Air Act, where she met the Erie County Executive. He was so impressed with her gumption that he offered her an internship. In high school, Jillian assisted with organizing a summit on teen dating violence, helping to educate her peers on the warning signs of unhealthy relationships and how they can protect themselves. After her junior year, she took the County Executive up on his offer and started an internship with the County.
Her placement with the Erie County Executive on the Status of Women was the perfect fit, she says. “The Commission on the Status of Women focuses on preventing and helping victims of domestic violence. It’s a huge issue affecting every corner of the earth but so many people don’t know the warning signs of an unhealthy relationship.” Through her internship, Jillian helped to organize the Commission’s biggest project, a plant-a-thon at the Tribute Garden that remembers and honors victims of domestic violence.
A Global Issue
A natural go-getter, Jillian also joined GLA that summer; for her, opting for a service-based program was a no brainer. The combination of cultural immersion and in-class teaching experience made Thailand: In & Beyond the Classroom™ a great fit.
“Every day was exciting! The whole trip was filled with so many memories, I couldn’t pick a favorite,” she says.
However, she was surprised to find that in addition to all the fun, the service project tied in with her cause back home.
“The first time I felt really connected to the issue of domestic violence was when I did a project about child marriage and learned that child brides are much more likely to also be victims of domestic violence because of their vulnerability and dependence on their husbands. We taught girls who walked hours and hours to and from school each day, which can be one of the contributors to child marriage that I had learned about previously. It contributes to dropping out of school early to get married because walking so long on top of chores and schoolwork at home gets to be too much for a child to handle. ”
“After having built up a connection and relationship with these students, I would be devastated if I found out they had to drop out of school to get married and then became a victim of domestic violence. It really inspired me to do more to help girls like them, or help girls in my own community become more aware of the issue.”
Jillian plans to attend the State University of New York at New Paltz in the fall, studying International Relations and French. “I plan to continue to help this cause throughout my life because it is very important to me that no one is treated badly in a relationship that is supposed to be founded on love,” she says. “GLA has inspired me to continue working on this issue, and to hopefully someday volunteer in the Peace Corps promoting girls’ education.”
Looking to get involved? “There are so many ways to get involved in community service, and there are so many options that you can really choose an issue that you care a lot about! Talk to people who might know an organization for a cause that you really care about. Sometimes reaching out to your county government or school’s guidance counselors will give you exactly what you need to start your project.”
Domestic/Dating Violence Resources
If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic or dating violence, there is help! Please check out the following resources: