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“We want to empower these girls…we love making a real difference and seeing all the girls so happy to be able to have opportunities”

Emilia and Ieva, the Project Leaders of On and Up

Emilia Vandamme, a 2nd year Spanish and Management student, and Ieva Karvelyte, in her second year of a Social Sciences with Quantitative Method course, are the Project Leaders for one of our newer projects, On & Up: Women in Finance, started earlier this year. They give workshops in schools to young women, helping them apply to university and working to get jobs in the future.

Emilia says that they want to show the young women they work with that they can “do whatever they want, even if they come from poorer backgrounds”. She said “girls don’t have as many opportunities” in schools in more economically-deprived areas, but when they’ve gone into schools, the girls have been really keen and excited to work with them, which they have found hugely inspiring.

Since beginning in September, they’ve done plenty of workshops, featuring presentations and group work. Emilia feels that they’ve had a greater impact than a teacher might have done, as they are current students, and have got that recent and current life experience, and more relateable. Ieva also feels that their diverse volunteer pool, with students from different countries, helps, as they’re able to share their experiences of different educational systems. She also feels it helps that as, in many of the sessions they do, many of the pupils are international, or their parents are immigrants, it helps to see the international perspective, and not just see white British faces talking about university to them.

They’re both very keen to expand the project and take it forward. Emilia said that her first day volunteering was very emotional, and that she is so proud to have started something from scratch. She remembers feeling like them, feeling like it’s “all men”, and is hugely proud of the fact she is empowering these young women. Ieva (who is also a Project Leader for Politeach) says that she has found it extremely rewarding after all the planning that has gone into it.


If Emilia and Ieva’s story has inspired you, you can find out more about On & Up: Women in Finance on our directory, where you can also find out more about our other projects!

You can also browse volunteering with Women’s Groups in the local community.