VWW is proud announce Kiana Lafleche, long time VWW Girls’ Programs participant was a recipient of the Holly D. Miller award at the Vermont Women’s Fund dinner. Kiana has worked as a Counselor in Training at Rosie’s Girls, served as an interviewer for Labor of Love, and is active with our Youth Advisory Council. The Holly D. Miller award – named for a former Women’s Fund council member who is a community leader, philanthropist, and a great believer in the ability of individuals to grow and change – is given annually. From 2006-2012 Kiana has participated in the Rosie’s Girls Summer Program, as a participant, Counselor in Training, and most recently as a Junior Counselor. In 2013 Kiana will be the first Rosie’s Girl hired as a Camp Leader. She attended the Women Can Do Conference in 2010 and 2011. In May of 2011, Kiana was a member of the interview team during the Labor of Love event, and she has been a vital member of our Youth Advisory Council since 2011.
Nomination for Holly D. Miller Award:
Four years ago I sat across from Kiana, then a quiet, skeptical 13 year old, as she interviewed to be a Counselor in Training at Rosie’s Girls. Soft-spoken and reticent as she seemed, I still remember thinking “there is something about this kid – I want to take a chance on her.” And Kiana has spent the past four years proving me right and exceeding every one of my expectations.
Through my work at VWW, I have the opportunity to work closely with Kiana. This young young woman is exceptional. She is wise well beyond her years and I am continuously impressed with her poise, level head, and focus.
I cannot imagine a better role model for our middle school participants. She is confident, inquisitive, empathetic, and brave. Kiana bridges the gap between adult staff members and youth participants beautifully. She can relate to our program participants while still serving as an authority figure and holding appropriate boundaries with enviable skill and intuition. She has taken on the role of mentor for our junior staff members, but truthfully, she has taught us all something about the work that we do.
Kiana is among the first generation in her family to go to college, a goal and responsibility that she takes very seriously. This is a person who has worked very hard to get where she is and has largely forged this path for herself. She has had to advocate for herself, her future, assistance and attention from her guidance counselor, and she has largely pieced together her financial aid for tuition on her own. Kiana has been accepted into all five of the colleges she applied to, and would not be able to attend if not for the financial aid she has accumulated and fought for.
The transformation of Kiana’s confidence and self-awareness, and the strengthening of her voice has been an incredible process to bear witness to over the past four years. She is smart, tough and going places. It has been an honor to watch her grow into the person she is today and exciting to think about where she is headed.
From Kiana, on receiving the Holly D. Miller Award.
Vermont Works for Women has helped countless girls open their minds, and hearts, to something that would be otherwise foreign to them. Rosie’s Girls is a priceless experience, and cannot be replicated in any school setting. The safe and encouraging environment yields the perfect conditions under which self discovery and growth can begin to take place. Rosie’s Girl’s builds confidence, builds character, and builds strong people.
Going into the program I had social difficulties, I didn’t have many friends and I lacked confidence. I was very shy, and I was afraid to exit my comfort zone. Rosie’s Girls gave me the opportunity to discover my creativity and to excel in activities I would have never otherwise tried. The staff were dedicated and supportive, and my peers encouraged me every step along the way. There has not been one particular instance that sticks out as my “aha” moment in camp, it’s the experience as a whole.
Going to my first day of Rosie’s Girls in sixth grade currently stands as one of the best decisions of my life. Over the past 7 years I have opened my mind and grown into a more confident and outgoing person. I have achieved more than I ever thought possible, and I attribute much of my success to the initial surge of encouragement and confidence that hit me after participating in the program.
As of next fall I will be enrolled in Syracuse University as an Education major studying Inclusive Elementary and Special Education. I appreciate all of the doors that Vermont Works for Women has helped opened for me, and I am incredibly honored to be able to represent this organization. My Vermont Works for Women family has been a huge part of my life, and I am extremely proud to say that I have been a part of it for the last 7 years.