Jessica Braddock had 24 hours to find a speaker and apply for a Confidence Coalition grant to bring them to Ohio State.
“My adviser gave me the grant form the day before it was due, so I was scrambling, looking at websites trying to find someone that would appeal to my sorority,” said the fourth-year in accounting and president of the OSU Pan-Hellenic Association.
When she found Alexis Jones’ website, she made her decision.
Jones has been speaking all around the world promoting her organization, I Am That Girl, a campaign she started with a mission to help young women turn their self-doubt into self-love.
“I really thought her message was something the whole Ohio State community would be interested in,” Braddock said.
The $5,000 grant alone from the Confidence Coalition, which is an organization dedicated to “promoting self-confidence in girls and women,” according to its website, was not enough to bring Jones, but Braddock was determined to get her to campus.
“I knew that (the Ohio Union Activities Board) helped sponsor an event for three organizations each year,” she said.
So she applied for Jones’ talk to be a collaborative event with OUAB, and it was accepted.
“The reason why we decided to collaborate with PHA on bringing Alexis to OSU is that OUAB and PHA want to create a community among females at Ohio State where they will have positive body images and self worth despite of the fact that there are so many negative influences nowadays,” said Neil Wang, a fourth-year in accounting and OUAB’s collaborative events chair, in an email.
Braddock’s efforts will come to fruition when Jones speaks in the Archie M. Griffin East Ballroom at 7:30 p.m. Monday
“It will be a battle cry to women,” Jones said in an interview with The Lantern. “It is all about what girls can do when they collaborate instead of compete.”
Jones began to develop an outlet for empowering girls in order to deal with her own insecurities, ones she said came to a head when she was an undergraduate student at the University of Southern California.
She was living out her dreams of getting an education and modeling, but she still felt unfulfilled.
“I remember asking my mom, ‘Aren’t I supposed to be happy?’” Jones said. “And my mom said I wouldn’t be until I started living an others-centered life instead of a me-centered life.”
Inspired by a desire to assure women they are not alone, Jones decided to do just that.
“I thought there were not enough sanctuaries for girls to feel safe discussing their fears,” Jones said. “Why did I start this program? Honestly because I needed it.”
What began as USC girls meeting to talk and inspire each other expanded after Jones graduated and met her best friend, Emily Greener. The two then officially founded the I Am That Girl program. Five years later, it is a community of more than 100,000 girls across the globe using I Am That Girl as a tool to turn their woes into empowerment through community, content and education. The program promotes its message of girls’ self-worth through live speaking engagements throughout the country in addition to establishing a digital community that inspires “healthy conversation” amongst girls, according to I Am That Girl’s website.
College girls are the “army” of the program, Jones explained, but she insists that all kinds of people need to be involved in the movement to keep it powerful.
“We need men involved in the conversation, too. This is not just a women’s movement, it is a human movement,” she said.
Jones said leading a movement with such a large following means a lot of sacrifice, but it is all worth it.
“You decide to start an initiative like this, and God forbid that it really takes off. It is a juggling act every day and everything that comes from it is at the expense of something else,” she said. “But it is the greatest blessing in the world.”
Braddock said she is looking forward to finally hearing the speaker she has been working to get to OSU for several months.
“We are very fortunate that it all worked out,” Braddock said. “Whether there are 300 people or 900 people (in attendance), it is going to be really cool.”