As a student at UNC-Chapel Hill, I am amazed by my classmates on a daily basis. There are some truly inspiring people I have met at Carolina—many of whom I am blessed to have made lasting friendships with—people who are smart, motivated, and want to make the world a better place. Not in a vague, someday-in-the-future kind of way, but in a I-know-who-I-am-and-what-I-want-and-am-already-on-my-path kind of way. It can be intimidating, to say the least. It’s easy to play the comparison game and second-guess yourself. Five years ago, I was rejected from UNC as a rising first-year applicant. It was a decision that I would later come to appreciate, as it set me on a journey of self-discovery and growth that I might not otherwise have had. But at the time, it felt devastating, further confirmation of my own false, limiting belief that I simply was not enough.
When I started college, I was a painfully shy eighteen-year-old who didn’t have a clue what I wanted to do with my life. Not in the sense that nothing interested me; rather, nearly everything interested me. Starting at community college seemed like the best plan for me, as it would give me time to learn more about myself and save a tremendous amount of money on tuition, while still working towards that unfathomable abyss better known as “my future.” Hindsight is always 20/20 and now I can definitively say that it was the best possible choice I could have made. My time at community college was transformative. I started out as an excessively self-deprecating, people-pleasing “good girl” whose sense of self-worth was tied exclusively to others’ good opinion of me, but eventually grew into a young woman with a burgeoning inner confidence and ability to authentically express myself. I learned the importance of pushing myself outside of my comfort zone, and did so both in the classes I took (networking and computer classes that were predominantly made up of men) and the organizations I joined (many of which resulted in me stepping into leadership positions that I initially didn’t think I had any business holding).
I applied to the Moxie Project, an academic/internship program through the Carolina Women’s Center at UNC, because I care deeply about gender equity. Being in the Moxie program, I am once again amazed by my peers. The women in my cohort are passionate, driven, intelligent, and unapologetically themselves. Like my fellow Tar Heels, I too want to make the world a better place, and empowering women not only feels like a vital place to start, but a personal one as well. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the strong women in my life who have encouraged me every step of the way. I am excited about the opportunity to work at Women AdvaNCe to develop professionally, personally, and to learn from other women. I believe in the power that comes from sharing our stories. Empowerment, in my opinion, comes in large part from embracing who we are today rather than despairing over not yet being the person we someday hope to become (or feeling shameful of who we were in the past). Looking forward to the summer ahead, I hope to continue to grow as a scholar, an activist, and a woman.
Brie McGhee is an undergraduate student at UNC-Chapel Hill studying Psychology and Public Policy. Originally from Columbus, Ohio, she moved to North Carolina during high school and started college at Wake Tech Community College, where she earned her A.A.S. degree in Networking Technologies. Brie is passionate about advancing women in the public spheres of business, government, and other positions of leadership and plans to continue her education in law school. Outside of classes, she enjoys running, being in nature, reading, and going to concerts. Brie is Women AdvaNCe’s 2019 Moxie Intern.