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Gabrielle looking to future at Princeton

Future leader:Gabrielle Reid (right) with Erika Alexander, an American actress and writer who spoke at the conference (Photograph supplied)

Gabrielle Reid has become the first student from Bermuda to participate in a two-week leadership conference at Princeton University.

At The Well: Young Women’s Leadership Academy is a programme for 10th and 11th grade girls of colour, which is held annually at the New Jersey campus of the Ivy League school.

The programme, which focuses on developing strong leaders through academic, social and career components, consists of classes, homework and presentations by guest speakers.

Gabrielle, 16, a Somersfield Academy pupil, said she was initially worried about possible cultural differences and how “everyone else would perceive me as someone who’s not from America”.

However, she adjusted smoothly. “Every day was like a school day,” she said. We had four classes, critical writing, critical reading, a leadership class, and a class about scholarships and making sure that while you’re in college you don’t come out with a lot of debt.

“Every night we had homework; even on the weekends.”

There were also nightly presentations by a variety of prominent speakers, including actress Nicole Ari Parker, programme chairwoman Julianne Malveaux, a labour economist and author, and Renée Hill, a trial lawyer.

“Each speaker brought something different to the table,” Gabrielle said.

“It was really nice to have a diverse group of successful black women who did so many different things.

“It really inspired all of us, because there was at least one person that we could relate to or was doing something that we were interested in.”

Gabrielle added: “The most important lesson I learnt was: that it doesn’t matter how old you are, as long as you have that fire in you to want to change something in the world, you can do anything, you don’t need to wait for anything to happen.

“It really spoke to me because it let me know that if I see things wrong in the world, I don’t have to wait until I’m older to try to change them, I can start now, and by doing that I can help other people.”

Gabrielle was introduced to the programme by a member of Radnor Road Christian Fellowship church.

“She thought that it would be a good opportunity for me to improve my leadership skills,” Gabrielle told The Royal Gazette.

To qualify for the course from July 22 to August 3, Gabrielle was required to write two essays, submit two letters of recommendation, provide her latest transcript as the programme requires a minimum GPA of 3.0, and complete an interview over Skype.

Gabrielle recently graduated from Somersfield’s IB Middle Years Programme with honours.

She will continue her studies in the autumn as a full-time student at the Bermuda College.

She aspires to be an international lawyer to combat racism, sexism and homophobia, “things that oppress people and take away their opportunities”.

“I want to help by being a lawyer who works in international law so that I’m not just working in one part of the world, but I can reach out and help people all over.”

Gabrielle has wanted to be a lawyer since she did her job shadow day at the Attorney-General’s chambers.

Ultimately, she wants to work for the United Nations.

She said: “They can send you away to different countries to help them decide on laws to put in place, to make sure that the people of that country are given a voice, and are respected and treated well.

“I’m really passionate about social justice. When people talk about ‘women empowerment’, a lot of the time they really just mean ‘white women empowerment’.

“We need to make sure we’re working on empowering women of all races. If empowerment is only helping one group of people and not everyone else, then it’s not really empowerment. It relies a lot on intersectionality, we need to look at the big picture.”