Many of us can remember how difficult middle school can be. Many of us could have benefitted from having the opportunity to discuss our concerns and frustrations with a caring, young adult—someone to listen, support, provide validation, and encourage us.
G.R.O.W - Growing into Respected Outstanding Women - is a mentoring program which pairs a select group of young adult undergraduate and graduate women (under 25 years old) who possess outstanding leadership qualities with a select group of middle school girls from Calloway County and Murray Middle Schools who could benefit from interactions with a positive female role model.
2014-15 G.R.O.W. Leadership
Graduate Student Coordinator
Calloway County Middle School - Tori Bertram and Harley
Murray Middle School - Andrea Kaler and Megan Rosbury
Abigail French, Women's Center Director
Dr. Susana Bloomdahl, School Counseling Program Coordinator
Those interested in applying may complete the application and return in to the Women's Center (C103 Oakley Applied Science Building).
Currently under the supervision of Abigail French, Director of the MSU Women’s Center, the G.R.O.W. program is in its twelfth year at MSU. The program is designed to foster personal growth and develop leadership skills in both the college women and middle school girls. Through interactions with a positive female role model, the program aims to enhance the self-esteem of the middle school girls and to help develop and nurture their potential. The program gives college women a chance to, not only develop leadership skills, but also improve their communication skills, make new, life-long friends, and be involved in meaningful ways on campus.
G.R.O.W. was created in the fall of 2001 by an intern, Kennette Cleaver, who was completing her minor in Youth and Non-profit Leadership. She worked closely with Jane Etheridge and adapted G.R.O.W. from the Young Women Leaders Program, a mentoring program established at the University of Virginia in 1997 by directors Kim Roberts, Ph.D., and Winx Lawrence, Ph.D.
The Young Women Leaders Program developed out of concern about the self-esteem of adolescent girls. In the early 1990’s, a study by the American Association of University Women found that as girls move from childhood into adolescence, their self-esteem drops significantly. The Young Women Leaders Program was designed to respond to that concern as well as have other benefits. Through structured and unstructured interactions with a pre-teen, an undergraduate college woman could share her many gifts with others and help a young girl learn about her own leadership potential in a supportive, diverse, and safe environment.
College women interested the G.R.O.W. program go through an application process at the beginning of the fall semester. The women, sophomores through graduate level (under 25 years old), submit an application, a list of references, and an essay. Applications are evaluated and narrowed down to a smaller pool for interviewing and 20-28 mentors are selected. Mentors immediately begin a nine-week training program, meeting two hours each week. Training is designed to prepare the young women to be effective mentors as well as to develop a “team” of diverse women who demonstrate respect for each other and what each woman brings to the program.
During the spring semester, the “bigs” and “littles” meet weekly as a group in their respective middle school for a two-hour period. In addition, pairs are encouraged to meet twice a month for one-on-one interactions outside the weekly sessions. During weekly sessions, discussions and activities are directed towards relevant issues in the girls’ lives. Topics from the previous year included body image, assertiveness, self-esteem, leadership, stereotyping and its effects, peer pressure, and values clarification.
In addition to the weekly sessions and spending time together outside the structured program, G.R.O.W. participants at each school decide upon and engage in a community project in the spring. In connection with the annual celebration of Women’s History Month at Murray State, the girls and college mentors attend the Celebrate Women Luncheon each March. Finally, the middle school girls also spend one day in late April on the Murray State University campus. The day known as "Take a Little to School Day" is designed to expose the girls to the college experience in hopes that they all will set a goal to earn a college degree.