BASIS Scottsdale Club Raises Money & Awareness For Girls’ Education


– By Taylor Seely

Thirty students at BASIS Scottsdale charter school are coming together under one club to raise money and awareness for girls’ education in developing countries.

The students at BASIS, ranging from fifth grade to high school, have opened a chapter under She’s The First, a national organization represented among college campuses across the United States that sponsors girls’ school tuition.

Divya Vatsa, a 15-year-old sophomore at the school, opened the club after discovering the organization online over the summer. She said she was passionate about girls’ education, so She’s The First was a perfect fit.

“The idea (behind the club and organization) is if you give girls education, you’re unlocking a lot more potential in the world,” Vatsa said. “We see that as building a stronger global community, which is the end goal of She’s The First.”

The club will host a bake sale fundraiser next week as their first effort to sponsor a girl whom will be provided by the national organization.

To raise money outside of school-inclusive bake sales, the club has set up a donation page for their chapter on the national organization’s website.

Because She’s The First focuses on awareness and fundraising, Vatsa said she wants the club to provide educational seminars and recreational workshops for girls in the broader community, not just BASIS.

The club is considering a plethora of ideas ranging from karate workshops teaching girls self defense to speaking series with special guests highlighting the importance of education for women.

The club members devise these plans in weekly Wednesday meetings, coordinated by Vatsa and Vice President Kimy Lecamwasam.

Lecamwasam said her passion for the club and appreciation for learning stems from her family’s unique history.

“My grandma grew up in Sri Lanka and was the first girl in her village to go to medical school,” Lecamwasam said. “But her parents couldn’t afford it, so she was sent on scholarship.”

She said her grandma had to live off six dollars a month, and if it hadn’t been for her dedication to education, Lecamwasam said she and her parents would not be in America today.

“My grandparents always say ‘The one thing you can always use is an education,’” Lecamwasam said. “So they’re happy that I’m giving that to people who wouldn’t have it otherwise.”

Vatsa said Lecamwasam’s efforts as vice president help the group operate smoothly and that the group has received decent support from classmates, but there was a disparity between the girl to boy ratio that she hopes to fix in the future.

Currently, only one of the 30 members is male.

Vatsa said her male friends were accepting of the group, but they were reluctant to participate even after she explained her belief in gender equality.

Kayvon Gorji, the single male member, said he thinks the resistance stems from a “mob mentality.”

“I think one person thought ‘Oh this club should just be for girls because it’s only helping girls (so) now they’re all thinking that way,” Gorji said. “I think the sooner they realize how it helps women rise up in society, the sooner these women will be better off.”

Gorji said he tries to persuade his male friends to join, but despite his efforts he remains the only boy.

“At a certain point you just say ‘Okay, if this club really isn’t for you I can’t help you, but I can show you through the work through the club,” he said.

Gorji said he was excited for the bake sale fundraiser and other events lined up for the year.

Lyndsay Haag, the teacher Vatsa chose to host the club, said she is confident that the group will make a difference.

“Divya’s efforts are amazing in all that she does,” Haag said in an email. “She is one of the most hardworking people, not just students, I’ve ever met.”

Haag said since the club started until now, Vatsa has been able to establish a strong, dedicated membership because she “incites passion in all her classmates.”

“They (the club members) are mature enough to understand their privilege,” Haag said. “They want to share that privilege with others.” | CST


Taylor Seely is a sophomore at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication and a student in Barrett, The Honors College. Reach the reporter at taylor.seely@asu.edu.

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