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Clubs to Look Forward to This Fall: JSerra Girl Up

A big part of being a JSerra Lion is joining a club whose purpose speaks to you. This fall there will be over 50 clubs from which to choose — one of which is Girl Up, founded by rising senior Kiana Sedigh in 2017. Now in its fourth year, JSerra Girl Up has already exceeded its initial long-term goal of raising $10,000 and is excited to see how much more they can accomplish this year.

Photo of a group of female members from JSerra Girl Up.

Launched by the United Nations Foundation ten years ago, Girl Up gives American teens the opportunity to channel their energy and compassion to raise awareness and funds for UN programs that help some of the world's adolescent girls in hardest-to-reach countries such as Ethiopia, Uganda, Malawi, Guatemala, and Liberia. These funds provide girls with such basic needs as access to school supplies, clean water, life-saving health services, safety from violence and more.

When Sedigh learned about Girl Up just prior to her freshman year, she knew that it was a club she could be passionate about so she immediately hit the ground running when the school year began. To start Girl Up, she knew she needed a moderator and members. She quickly turned to Mrs. Lori Austin, who had previously taught her at St. Anne School in Laguna Niguel. Next she found 15 students (all female) to join her in establishing Girl Up.

By 2019, Girl Up had nearly 100 members — 30% of whom are male.

"Our mission is to empower and help girls around the world who are disadvantaged, underprivileged, and abused," Sedigh said. "The money we raise helps them get an education, protects them from violence, and prevents them from being forced into child marriages and having children when they are still children themselves."

The Girl Up officers and members have raised over $10,000 in just three years by having bake sales at school tailgates, sporting events, and such school events as the annual Fat Tuesday celebration. They have also held ice skating fundraisers, which have become increasingly popular among the JSerra community. This year they don't yet have a specific goal in mind — they only know that they want to push themselves as hard as possible. Because their ice skating event was cancelled owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, they plan to make up for lost proceeds by having fundraisers at Chick-fil-A, a bakery, and bowling alley.

An added bonus of helping hundreds of girls around the world through running Girl Up fundraisers has been forming a tribe.

"Even though the club is called Girl Up, we have many dedicated boys who are just as passionate about helping as the girls are," said Sedigh. "Throughout the years, we've brought in members who initially were shy or were new and didn't have friends yet, and this club helped them find a place to belong."

Girl Up meets once a month in Señor Smith's Spanish room over pizza. They discuss future events and fundraisers as well as how to keep the passion in the club alive for each member.

"We couldn't have gotten so much done and helped so many people so far without Señora Austin and all she's done for this club as well as our members," Sedigh said. "Everyone has gone above and beyond for this cause."

For more information on Girl Up, email Sedigh at kiana.sedigh@jserra.org.

If you are interested in exploring other clubs at JSerra before the fall begins, visit jserra.org/clubs. JSerra clubs are student-initiated inclusive groups that are consistently aligned with the vision and purpose of the school. There are three types of clubs: service, which focuses on the welfare of a group or community through health, education, etc.; extracurricular, which centers on enhancing academics; and social, which cultivates school spirit or student camaraderie.