Young Women of Excellence shaping tomorrow’s leaders

Yaneek Smith

        “My sister’s keeper” – that is the theme of Waite High School’s Young Women of Excellence chapter.
        Love. Reciprocity. Kindness. Respect. Honesty. Responsibility. Integrity. Academic excellence. These are the pillars upon which YWOE is built. It comprises an impressive group of young women who work to uphold these ideals.
        The chapter’s advisor, Stefanie Revesz, is a Waite alumna and takes great pride in helping to mold the girls into women.
        “We hold the young women accountable for upholding these pillars – all day, every day. Our agenda is to transform lives, and it begins within ourselves. It is important for there to be a group such as YWOE to help instill these qualities within them, while projecting them onto others,” said Revesz. “Many of our students gravitate toward the group because they want a place to belong and have a sense of family. That’s what YWOE is, a family. Many of our students long for just that and were advised to check us out. Since then, we have created some pretty powerful board members, leaders in the community and academically-excellent young women.
        “I have also noticed this organization contains many diverse young women who otherwise would not converse and spend time with one another,” she said. “It’s amazing to see all of the different personalities bonding with one another, getting along and working toward a common goal.
        “Being a young woman in high school is hard! This organization allows these young women to experience it together and know that YWOE has your back,” she said.
        Skyler Papenfuse is an impressive young woman who leads the group as its president. She enjoys being part of the chapter.
        “It’s nice to have someone with passion helping people as part of the group, because that means it is someone with love and motive in them and they can pass that motivation and love on to others,” said Papenfuse, who is planning to attend The University of Toledo in the fall. “It’s important to help others have someone to look up to and I can help others believe they can do anything they put their mind to.”
        Revesz offered high praise for Papenfuse.
        “Skyler has made such an impact on our organization. Last year, we had low attendance. The group suffered many losses in members. We had a lack in leadership on the student’s end. She became president of YWOE last year and there has been no stopping her. She has helped increase numbers by simply being a breath of fresh air, a light for this organization,” said Revesz. “Her positivity is contagious, she produces endless ideas on how to make the community better and assist with making the student body a better group, not to mention she is inclusive. She welcomes everyone, cares for every individual girl in this group, and she makes it known. The girls feed off of this and are receptive to her.
        “Leadership is essential in high school. Students respond more effectively to their peers than adults. When you have a group such as YWOE and other students start to catch on to the success, the fun among the organization - they buy into how amazing a group like this is and the mentorship and bonding begin. We not only have fun but we offer opportunities to receive volunteer hours. That is one qualification to be an active member.”
        Revesz, who graduated from Waite in 2004, takes great pride in being an East Sider.
        “I knew when I went to Waite and graduated in ‘04 that my time there wasn’t over. I had such a wonderful experience under the guidance of the teachers, now co-workers, along with Dave and Carolyn Yenrick,” said Revesz, who works as an intervention specialist. “I wanted to pay it forward; I wanted to share the pride and the tradition (with the students).
        “I live extremely close to Waite High School, so I see students before and after hours while walking in and out of my house, doing yard work, etc.,” she said. “This makes me feel that I can have a little more impact on them by creating a relationship that extends into the community and be being able to rub a sense of pride, tradition and leadership off on my students and YWOE girls.
        Revesz says she remembers the day when things came together. “Being a first-year advisor, I was still learning the ropes, getting to know the young women and their personalities, etc. We volunteered at ‘The Big Clean Up Event’ at UT last year in April. It was a rainy, cold and dreary day. We walked around the damp, muddy campus and cleaned up trash. Afterwards, we indulged in pizza, cupcakes and snacks. The girls were laughing, inquiring about one another such as where they were from, what they enjoyed and of course the boys they were fond of, inviting one another out for dinner, making plans for next week’s meeting.
        “It was finally happening – they were becoming one cohesive group. That was when our board members were decided and our group became one tiny but mighty family,” she said. “Since then we have been strong.”


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