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- Jacqueline Glass Campbell: Being the Change
July 16, 2019
It all started when Jacqueline Glass Campbell, MDiv ’03, was passed up for a promotion, and her gut said it was political. Instead of being bitter, she channeled her frustration into helping other women like her – women who depended on structures and organizations to gain upward mobility. What if they could determine their own destinies instead? Just like that, At the Well Conferences was born and, this year, it celebrates 10 years of enriching emotional, physical, spiritual, and financial wellness for women and, especially, women of color.
But it doesn’t end there. Glass Campbell soon realized an even stronger need to support a younger generation of women. “The idea came from my daughter, a gifted student who graduated from The Hun School in Princeton as one of two African American girls in her class,” she says. “I wanted to give gifted girls of color a platform to come together and encourage one another. Most of them come from spaces where they’re the only black girl in their AP class, and that can be isolating at times.”
At the Well Young Women’s Leadership Academy’s two-week enrichment program for teenage girls is a crash course in inspiration, motivation, and preparation. They hear from diverse speakers and they are provided with opportunities to lead through group exercises. They attend a Broadway play. They do college-level work. And, they write an essay, one that they can use on their college applications. The actress Nicole Ari Parker serves as program chair. Looking ahead, Glass Campbell wants to grow participation from girls abroad (so far, participants have hailed from St. Lucia and Jamaica). And, she wants to continue to nurture the new boys program, From the Fire Leadership Academy for Young Men, which includes leadership development, mentoring, and rites of passage.
At the Well celebrates 10 years of enriching emotional, physical, spiritual, and financial wellness for young women and has now started programs for young men.
In 2018, From the Fire was launched and welcomed acclaimed actor and producer Danny Glover as the key note speaker, and actor Delroy Lindo as program chair. Thirty-five high school boys from across the country convened for the two-week program that is held concurrently with the girls event. The young men left with a greater sense of their self-worth along with lifelong mentors and a determination to excel in their personal and career aspirations. The rites of passage serve as a culmination of self-discovery during the program.
After ten years of providing At the Well programming, the students and their families attest to its impact. Testimonials and stories about the students’ increase in leadership activities, volunteerism, personal development, and career aspirations are shared.
Why At the Well? “It comes from a story in John 4, when a woman comes to the well for water at a time when no one else is there, and she leaves much differently than she came,” Glass Campbell explains. “It was an educational encounter, and one that transforms her. That’s what we seek. We want girls to be impacted by the history of women who looked like them, and then go home and become the change that’s needed in the community where they live.”