Emily Fichter – Prevention Program Specialist

I am Emily Fichter, a Prevention Program Specialist at the Young Women’s Resource Center. I grew up on a farm in Shenandoah, Iowa with my mom, dad, and two older brothers. Like many young girls I wanted to be an astronaut.

Living on a farm you can look up at the sky and see forever. At the age of 7, I was captivated by the endlessness of the unknown that surrounded me. I would often look up and feel this unexplainable need to jump from one brilliant dot to the next, star-by-star. I was confident I would do big things and travel to unknown places. I was fearless, brave, and knew I would change the world—somehow, someway.

A few years later I was 10. My teachers told me that I would have to be good at math to be an astronaut. My peers told me that girls aren’t good at math. Barbie, yes the doll, confirmed this with her first digitally spoken words, “Math class is tough.” My dance costumes told me that my body wasn’t good enough the way it was. Magazines showed me what “pretty” looked like. And for some reason, my awkward adolescent body did not have abs or voluptuous breasts. I received these messages and comprehended them in my 10-year-old mind. I knew I was a girl, and girls are not good at math; therefore, I cannot do big things or travel to unknown places. I began to channel my ambitious energy into feeding obscene insecurities.

A few years later I was 20, and I was a junior at Simpson College. After switching my major four times, I decided to pursue the social sciences and took a class entitled, “Women’s Struggle for Equality.” On the first day I was asked to visualize what I wanted to be when I was 7 years old. I closed my eyes and saw the stars. I remembered how it felt to dream with no limitations—to imagine with no hesitations. It felt good. I wanted others to feel this way. I wanted young girls to never stop feeling this way.

Surprise—I didn’t become an astronaut, but I did graduate from Simpson College with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and an emphasis in Social Justice. I interned at the Young Women’s Resource Center my senior year, and I was thrilled to get on full-time in January of 2014. As a Prevention Program Specialist at the YWRC, I do outreach programming in schools and at the center—supporting, educating, and advocating for 10-21 year-old girls focusing on the following pillars: self-esteem, body image, healthy relationships, and reproductive health. I also help lead a few after school groups including Hit The Ground Running, a running group that focuses on resiliency and empowerment, Sheroes, a high school leadership group that focuses on philanthropy and community service, and two general after school groups for high school and middle school girls.

My girls at the YWRC are my heart. I am fulfilled in telling them that their genitalia does not dictate their ability to do math. I show them that magazines distort truth, and I encourage them to dream big, travel to unknown places, and change the world—somehow, someway.