Cathy Cornejo, the winner of our 2011 Empowerment Scholarship, talks about her struggles and successes in her essay, "Proud of Being a Woman." One of 10 siblings, she is the first person in her family to graduate from high school and attend college. Cathy is currently attending school for a nursing degree while working part-time to help support her family. 

Cathy's Essay: Proud of Being a Woman

I never knew that deep down inside of me I am a strong woman, and if I have the strength to be real strong, I know that all the women in the world can be as powerful as I am. Maybe it is something that we need to know and inspire ourselves to have a great future. It took me a lot of knowledge to recognize how hard it was to believe in myself and what all women go through.

First of all, I plan on using the information that was given to me and share it with two of my sisters that I love so much. Secondly, in a few years I want to talk to females and give a speech or maybe even start some classes just like I experienced it. Last but not least, my responsibility is that I should be out there looking out for all the young women that need help in seeking for success and also believing in themselves. I really want the best for my community and for others too. Ever since day one that I was sitting down in Athena's Warehouse classes I knew I was going to walk out being proud of myself and found out many things that never went through my head. 

I was raised with nine brothers and sisters in total, which made it extremely difficult to focus in school. I have two sisters who are not much older than meOne is a year and a half older than me, and the other one is three years older than mePregnancy messed them up at age thirteen and sixteenAll the workshops made me realize something new, but there were at least two that encouraged me to talk to themThe first one was about how to prevent teen pregnancy, and the second one was about low self-esteem. I still remember when I told them about how to take care of themselves. They cried and told me that if they had an opportunity to go back in time they would take advantage of everything.

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I was lost for a minute, but no matter what I have been through I know I am going to make it. I strive for success and want to exceed my standards. I am going to catch my dreams until I have them in the palm in my hands. In my community I want to start some classes just like Athena's and share my knowledge and help them learn as well. Not only just to help them but to open their eyes and tell them women are independent and we can build many things in this big world.

I want to stop walking in circles and make a change in our generation of women coming up. I want them to know that if I can make it all women can.


I want to stop walking in circles and make a change in our generation of women coming up. I want them to know that if I can make it all women can.