Creating the Environment for Empowered Girls

Daily Point of Light # 7850 Jul 8, 2024

Meet Daily Point of Light Award honoree Aadya Chaudhary. Read her story, and nominate an outstanding volunteer or family as a Daily Point of Light. 

Aadya Chaudhary, 17, is a typical teenager. She’s a rising senior in high school, a swimmer, an avid reader and a film buff. Outside of her academic work and extracurriculars, she’s been training in classic Indian dance for the last decade, an activity that connects her with her cultural heritage. But her initiative is anything but ordinary. 

Aadya’s interest in entrepreneurship and tech, particularly AI and coding, led her to take a computer science class as a freshman that set the course of her high school career. Of the 30 students in her class, three were girls. It was a fact that didn’t go unnoticed. Wanting to change the experience for future women, she and two co-founders created uEmpower, an organization that connects young girls with resources and mentoring to encourage leadership.  

They empower 300+ members across the globe by inviting female leaders in various fields to inspire members through speaking opportunities and events. Their initiatives have led to partnerships with organizations like Miss Teen USA and have reached over 40,000 people through social media campaigns, virtual events, volunteer efforts and programs.  

Additionally, Aadya serves as the lead student director for Math Fact Mania and the executive director of Butterfly Mentoring.

Aadya Chaudhary, co-founder of uEmpower and lead student director of Math Mania, advocates for girls’ empowerment.

What inspires you to volunteer? 

To me, volunteering is taking the resources that I’ve had the privilege of having access to and giving them to those who haven’t. With my work, we’re giving everyone an equal playing field and showing them that they, too, can accomplish great things 

What inspired you to get started with this initiative?  

Being one of three girls in my computer science class and experiencing our work not being recognized or respected by the guys in our class led me to believe that if I face these challenges privileged to be at an incredible high school, then there are some girls who are facing them on a larger scale. My co-founders had similar experiences in their physics and robotics classes, so the three of us decided to create uEmpower.  

Tell us about your volunteer role with uEmpower.  

I’m a co-founder and head of the Marketing and PR Outreach Department. I handle internal and external communication—emails, PR, outreach for partnerships and collaborations, soliciting woman who we want to speak with. I also make social media posts. Recently, we introduced our ambassador team, so I worked on the introductions and relevant videos. A lot of the time it’s just recognizing activities our chapters are working on in their own community. I lead our 30-person ambassador team, and I work with Miss Team USA and Miss Remaja Tawa on our ambassador partnerships to get content and explore new ideas. 

What are your long-term plans or goals for uEmpower? 

We’re working on a project called Pad Donation Drives, because we want to bring hygienic—and potentially reusable—products to those without access. We’re also creating a podcast that will help highlight our mission and help members better understand themselves and the society around them.  

Tell me about your other volunteer work. 

Math Fact Mania’s goal is to encourage mathematical literacy in elementary school students. We hand out timed math worksheets to create a bit of competition with prizes. The point is to build enthusiasm for the subject in a fun way. We want people to like math. It’s not something to fear. It’s something to master.  

As the lead student director, I handle the 44-person volunteer team, the worksheet grading process and prize organization. Currently, we’re helping around 700 students, and I’m working on expanding the program to two more local schools in the next school year to double that.  

Butterfly Mentoring helps kids start and grow their passion projects around the world. A lot of them have initiatives they want to implement but don’t have the right guidance or knowledge. As the executive director, I provide marketing help and growth strategies to different organizations to help them understand how they can grow and organize. 

What have you learned through your experiences as a volunteer? 

The main thing is to not be afraid to go for what I want and believe in. Two or three years back, I received a lot of negative feedback about my ideas—it wouldn’t really work, create impact or reach anyone. It was demotivating, but I went for it anyway. If you believe in the work that you’re doing, it will go somewhere. Hard work always pays off, and that motivation will carry your work.  

I’ve also learned to adapt to how I work with people, because everyone has different styles of working and different expectations from their team. Developing that mindset has helped me assess a situation first and understand the people I’m working with before moving forward.  

Aadya (right) speaks with Dr. Kassandra Fried about women’s empowerment during a Connect Event Episode by uEmpower.

What do you see as the role of teachers and employers in empowering girls and women? 

Empowerment starts from a young age. The mindset kids develop will be carried throughout their life, and teachers play a big role. The environment they create in their classroom and the equivalence that they give to everybody in the room is incredibly important.  

My computer science teacher supported all three girls. She would put us in positions where we would lead the team or oversee a project. It allowed me to see that I can be a leader, too. Teachers can show everyone in their classroom that they’re on an equal playing field and can accomplish just as much as the next person. And the same can be said of employers. They can show women and young girls that they’re part of the team and the impact.  

What do you want people to learn from your story? 

Don’t let societal norms or stereotypes that govern our world put you in a position you don’t want to be in. If something goes against norms, don’t worry about it. It’s our job to break the norms and expand our world. That’s how we learn and grow. Be CEO of that company, become a doctor or a software engineer and feel empowered to do so, even if you’re the only woman in the room. 

Do you want to make a difference in your community like Aadya? Find local volunteer opportunities. 

Kristin Park