Featured #bloomgirl: Valerie; CEO of The Validation Project!
We are so excited to announce our newest featured bloom girl, Valerie! Valerie is a sophomore at Muhlenberg College and the CEO of The Validation Project! We love Valerie's courage, passion, and entrepreneurial drive, and we had to share her amazing story with all of you! Read all about Valerie's journey below.
Tell us a little bit about yourself!
I am a sophomore at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA. I am also the founder and CEO of The Validation Project, an international organization working with 6,000+ teenagers in 105 countries to solve social justice issues. We focus on two-part validation: first, teaching my generation that they have worth and then, teaching them how to use that worth to shake up our world. Teenagers come to us with their skills and issues they're passionate about, and we partner them with a mentor in that field and a social justice assignment. For example, if a girl loved graphic design and was passionate about mental health awareness, maybe we'd partner her with someone at bloom! She'd work with that person to learn how to make her passion into a career. Then, we'd connect her with a mental health awareness organization nearby. She would work to help them revamp their logo and website to make it more accessible. We also have 'kindness curriculum' that replaces government anti-bullying curriculum in 1000 schools. Our curriculum teaches educators how to work with their students to solve problems in their community, going beyond tolerance to diminish cliques and really help everyone take action.
Who or what is your biggest inspiration?
My biggest inspiration is my mother. She raised me and my brothers to look out for problems we see and think of how we can help fix them, and she's cheered me on and been there throughout the highs and lows of myself and The Validation Project.
What’s the biggest challenge you've faced, personally or professionally? How have you overcome it?
The biggest challenge I've faced was probably coming out as gay. In the beginning of leading The Validation Project, I was struggling with my identity. I would speak at schools and tell kids to be proud of who they are, and then I'd go and hate on myself for who I was. It's funny the way life works though. The Validation Project really gave me the courage to come out; I was working with these incredible kids who were overcoming such insane obstacles and I realized I had to give the advice I give to others to myself. Coming out was the scariest and best thing I've ever done. When you're not focused on putting on a mask every morning, you get to learn more about yourself and truly give each day 100%.
If you could talk to yourself 5 years ago, what advice would you give yourself?
Oh man! Five years ago, I was fourteen and deep in depression. I was so scared of talking I would stutter my own name. Each day I would literally count down the hours until I could go to sleep. If I could talk to Freshman Val, I'd tell her that I know things seem really dark right now - I know it seems like there's never gonna be any light. But soon, if you just keep pushing, your life is going to change. You're going to have a passion that will not only shake up the world, but your world. It gets better. You are loved and you are valued.
What are some key books/learning experiences that helped shape you/your company?
I consider myself an honorary Leslie Knope, and Amy Poehler's book, Yes Please, is my bible. Her journey of getting to where she is is real and raw. As for learning experiences, I've been lucky enough to travel to a lot of different places in the US and abroad, and each trip teaches me more about myself and where I want The Validation Project to go. I've spoken at schools all over - from some of the highest private schools to schools where kids didn't have a backpack. Seeing the intense inequities in education has struck me to my core and made me know I want to go into education advocacy.
What are your favorite bloom products, and why?
I love the Vision Planners! It really helps me think about the future and set goals and ways for me to get to where I wanna be. The Classic Sticker Sheets make it so fun to look through and get stuff done.
Valerie Weisler was recently named a 2017 L’Oréal Paris Women of Worth Honoree for her work with The Validation Project. From now through November 29, the public is invited to visit WomenOfWorth.com to vote for Valerie to become the National Honoree and receive an additional $25,000 for The Validation Project. We hoped you loved getting to learn a little bit more about Valerie and The Validation Project! Have a #girlboss story to share? Email us at email@example.com for a chance to be our next featured bloom girl!
Never stop dreaming, never stop blooming!
the bloom team
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