I had the chance to sit down for Girl Talk with a group of free thinking, intelligent, funny and highly driven young ladies who go by the name of Freedom Fighters. Freedom Fighters is known as a unique after-school program that focuses on empowering female high school students but after our talk, I’ve realized they are so much more.
Founded and led by Jaclyn Sicilia, a part-time tutor and substitute teacher in the Clark County School District as well as a student of UNLV working toward her masters degree in education. Jaclyn assists the ladies in building social and cultural awareness, achieving academic and personal goals, and preparing to attend and graduate from a four-year university. In fact, they are gearing up to take a 21 day road trip to 20+ Colleges and Universities across the U.S. this summer.
Freedom Fighters first started out as an after school book club. She was looking for the students who weren’t the best students and who weren’t the worst students either but those who showed a lot of potential. In the beginning some of the ladies were a little skeptical but took a chance. They agreed that in the beginning things were slow and boring but then it picked up once it became a habit and the rest is history.
“IN THE BEGINNING WE WERE STRANGERS AND NOW WE ARE SISTERS” – Hilda
The more that we talked and laughed, I was dying to know, since all of these girls get along and are friendly, very respectful and super mature for their age, what brought them to this point and what has been the biggest hurdle so far? Jaclyn didn’t hesitate to answer but I was a little surprised to learn that it wasn’t any one individual or lack of money or conflicts, the biggest hurdle was simple.. balance. Now when you think about it, balance is something that a lot of us have a difficult time dealing with within our every day lives. Balance is the one thing that can make or break us, whether it’s the discipline to find it or the lack thereof. Jaclyn went on to explain that learning each of the girls personalities and adapting to them took time because what motivated one necessarily didn’t work for another. And while one doesn’t need motivation, she may need exposure. I thought it was cool to hear this being said out loud because this is the basis of any relationship. Another hurdle was the understanding and support from the families which is completely understandable. Because all parents raise their children differently and while we don’t always trust just anyone with our child, we have to trust that we still make the best decisions for their growth.
HOW HAS FREEDOM FIGHTERS BEEN BENEFICIAL TO THEIR LIVES? READ BELOW TO FIND OUT!
NIKKI – it shows me I am not alone. It’s shown me how to grow in academics and grade wise. How to keep up on my school work. Also how to juggle sports and grades. I’ve realized that it’s not easy to get where you want to be but if you put in the work you can make it. This club hasn’t only opened my eyes but it has brought me a family. I love these girls with all my heart. Each girl has something different to bring to the table. That is what makes this club what we are today and what we could be in the feature.
HILDA – prior to Freedom Fighters – C/D student to now a A/B student and Vice President of the Key Club. Her motivation behind becoming a better all around person was setting the example and becoming a positive role model to accomplish becoming the first in her family to attend college.
JAMIYAH – prior to Freedom Fighters, Jamiyah paid attention in school but didn’t really care. She just wanted to pass and get out of high school. Jamiyah admitted to caring more about her friends than her actual work but being around a better environment and being around the other Freedom Fighters who (in her words) had goals in life, it changed her mindset and outlook on life. She wanted more for herself.
TAMIA sets the example for her younger sister to be a better person instead of just the average high school student. As the “golden child”, Tamia is well on her way to becoming the first of her siblings to attend college.
JENNIFER has always wanted to go to college but Freedom Fighters served as an extra push thanks to the exposure and different environments Jaclyn has introduced them to. From the colleges tours to the volunteer work, it shared a broader perspective to look forward to after high school.
STEPHANIE – Freedom Fighters taught Stephanie that she can do more than what meets the eye. She also soaked up the differences from the environments in which the group has been exposed to. Freedom Fighters taught Stephanie that she could still accomplish her goals regardless of what odds and limitations are against her.
FUN FACTS ABOUT FREEDOM FIGHTERS
- They have each serviced a minimum of 40 hours of Community Service and actually enjoy the process as well as the results of giving back and serving the surrounding areas they call “home”.
- They started out as a Book Club reading a new book every two weeks followed up with a presentation on the book.
- With no previous interest prior to Freedom Fighters, they are now each involved in 2-5 clubs and organizations and enjoy it.
- They all want to be remembered for helping others and being looked to as a role model amongst their peers and younger generation.
What can we do to help Freedom Fighters? Jaclyn’s greatest wish is for more exposure. She believes that if more women (like you and I), knew about groups such as Freedom Fighters that it could possibly encourage us to create our own groups and to take young adults who have potential and expose them to more possibilities. All it takes is an idea followed by action. Young ladies such as Freedom Fighters can make a difference not only in our local communities but in the nation. Their stories can help motivate others to want to do more and be more.
SENDING A HUGE THANK YOU TO JACLYN FOR MAKING A DIFFERENCE AND EXTENDING YOUR HAND TO MAKE OUR COMMUNITY AS WELL AS OUR WORLD A BETTER PLACE. The moment you can take leadership over a group of young adults and mentor them, teach them socially and economically can make a huge difference in what’s next in their lives. I see so much greatness in each of these girls individually and I look forward to seeing them grow.
If you’re interested in connecting with Freedom Fighters, please check out their website HERE, feel free to email Jaclyn @ firstname.lastname@example.org and follow their social media accounts – Twitter , Instagram – where they will be documenting their Cross-Country College Tour starting June 14.