Kathryn Broussard beamed with pride as she spoke about the connections she has made through Elon University’s chapter of I Am That Girl. IATG is a national organization that focuses on providing a safe environment for young women and girls to create open and vulnerable dialogue. Not only has Broussard met some of her closest friends there, but she said she has the opportunity to continue conversations on women’s issues and other topics she is passionate about.
“I grew up in a place that wasn't strongly advocating for these rights,” Broussard said. “It is a big thing for me. And I want to continue these conversations with other people.”
Broussard, a sophomore, is co-president and the philanthropy chair of Elon’s chapter. She said at IATG people can truly feel like themselves and accept other people for who they are. Elon’s chapter of IATG was founded in 2013 and meets each Monday.
Broussard said she hopes other members will find close friends through their experience too like she did when she met co-president Caroline French.
French, an Elon sophomore is co-president and the event chair for Elon’s chapter of IATG. She said the organization is a space for conversation.
French said dialogue is centered around topics that are prevalent in members' lives. She said though the organization is generally marketed toward females, they strive to be inclusive.
Though the organization predominately garners attention from women, Broussard said once a semester IATG hosts an event called “Bring That Guy,” where members can bring a male in their life to weigh in and share experiences. Broussard said it’s important to create a welcoming environment and hopes the organization will continue to grow.
The weekly meetings provide an opportunity for girls to let down their guard and talk openly about the day’s topic, which is chosen by leadership members.Topics can range anywhere from personal and relationship boundaries to gender stereotypes on campus.
French believes IATG is a space free of judgment. Members can come to the meetings and will be made comfortable and ensured that both their feelings and opinions are appreciated and valid. At each meeting, French said members participate in two activities titled “Badass” and “You Are That Girl” to boost self confidence and show appreciation for one another.
“I hope that they feel safe to share. I hope they feel safe to confide in us if they needed to and if they needed to say something, we have a space that they are able to say it in,” French said.
Amid the coronavirus pandemic, Broussard doesn't want meetings to add to stress members already carry — all are encouraged to attend when they can. The flexible structure is something Broussard said she appreciates about the organization; it allowed her to continue forming bonds with other members.
“What I want for other people to get out of it is kind of similar to what I got out of it,” Broussard said. “I want these girls to meet new friends and I get that it's really hard during COVID times, because we are having all online meetings.”
Broussard said in a time where in-person interactions are sparse, she tries to connect with the girls outside of meetings.
“I think for first years, having clubs is the best way to meet new people, even if it's online,” Broussard said. “We have a couple girls who were still home and have yet to come to campus and I think it's really important that we establish those connections with them to make them feel part of Elon.”
Elon junior and former IATG president Nikki Cronin wrote in an email to Elon News Network that IATG was pivotal to her college experience, especially when she joined as a freshman.
“Being a part of I Am That Girl has meant so much to me,” Cronin wrote. “When I was a first-year student, I Am That Girl made me feel so welcome at Elon and helped me to transition from high school to college. I Am That Girl has made me feel supported and empowered.”
Despite virtual meetings, Cronin said she believes the current leadership is still working hard to continue conversations about topics that impact young women.
“I love seeing all the members of the current leadership council doing such an amazing job, even with moving to virtual meetings,” Cronin wrote. “I am so proud and happy to
have been part of an organization that helps to build up women and open up conversations about the topics that impact young women.”