Rising UHS Senior Provides Platform for Indigenous Peoples to Be Heard

Photo | Submitted  Carolyn Pascal introduced children to indigenous culture at the Urbana Regional Library on July 27.

Photo | Submitted
Carolyn Pascal introduced children to indigenous culture at the Urbana Regional Library on July 27.

Carolyn Pascal is a relentless champion for social justice. At the age of 12, she began giving countless hours to the Greater Urbana Area Food Bank to fight hunger in our community for three years. When she was 15, she founded a non-profit organization to help eradicate hunger around the world by empowering the vulnerable through secondary education.

Pascal’s newest initiative in her quest to protect the voiceless is the Indigenous Peoples Literature Society launched in June 2019.

“When I was 12 years old, I realized that the first step in achieving peace is to ensure that all people’s basic needs are met,”  Pascal said. “The solution seemed simple: provide food to those who have too little. As I matured over the next three years, I learned that the solution to the problem of hunger varies based on its underlying cause. In developing nations, providing secondary schooling is a critical component of ending poverty. While education is so important for both boys and girls, educating teenage girls in developing nations has unique advantages such as reducing the risk of contracting HIV, reducing the rate of child marriage, and lowering the birth rate. I founded the nonprofit organization, Educate Girls to Eradicate Hunger, Inc. in February 2018 to raise funds to educate girls because educating teenage girls in developing nations is more effective in preventing hunger than is providing food directly. When a girl in a developing nation receives a secondary education, she can rescue her family from the cycle of poverty in a single generation.”

Pascal, 17, is pleased with the results her nonprofit produced in its first year and has raised the bar on her 2019 goals.

“Before founding Educate Girls to Eradicate Hunger in 2018, I charged myself with educating 100 girls while I complete the 10 remaining years of my education, approximately 10 girls per year. Thanks to the amazing outpouring of support from our community as well as donors from Australia to Connecticut and Florida to Washington state, in its first year of operation my nonprofit provided 34 girls in Malawi with tuition, room and board, uniforms and learning supplies for an entire year. I am committed and driven to outperform that in 2019.

“Two of this year’s fundraisers include a book fair at Barnes & Noble at FSK Mall on Oct. 12 and our flagship fundraiser, the Educate Girls Superhero 5K with 1K Fun Run on Nov. 9 at the Urbana District Park. Due to the large turnout at our inaugural race in 2018, we moved this year’s race to a larger venue. We are very excited that our 2019 Educate Girls Superhero race will be held at the Urbana District Park on Nov. 9! It is such a beautiful park, and we hope that its convenient location will allow even more of our community members to join us in the race to end hunger while enjoying a beautiful autumn day in the community.”

When asked what inspired her to launch the Indigenous Peoples Literature Society, Pascal explained, “My motivation was two-fold. First, once physiological needs are met, those escaping generational poverty need to rebuild a sense of dignity and self-worth. Telling of people’s vibrant cultures and traditions can help restore that feeling of confidence. Second, all of us need to learn of these amazing cultures so we can create a climate of acceptance and inclusion. To do this, the literature society will present to students, from pre-school through high school and eventually on my college campus, the traditions and cultural threads of indigenous peoples (from Africa, the Americas, Oceania and Asia) in stories written by indigenous authors.”

In addition to leading the Educate Girls to Eradicate Hunger nonprofit organization and her Indigenous Peoples Literature Society, Pascal participated in summer law programs at Boston University and George Washington University. Following high school, she plans to continue researching and learning about indigenous cultures, studying public policy and other humanities, then attending law school. “I hope to devote my life to fighting for social justice, being a voice for the voiceless,” she said.

Pascal has lived in Ijamsville since she was five years old. She enjoys studying social studies, literature, and psychology.

“I love learning about people, civilizations and cultures around the world,” she said.

She is especially excited about an upcoming trip to Australia and New Zealand in December. “I am so excited to be able to visit a Maori village in New Zealand and learn about this amazing indigenous culture!” She also enjoys swimming, skiing and spending time at Deep Creek Lake paddle boarding, kayaking and hiking.

Pascal invites the Urbana community, “Join my fight to end hunger! Register to run with us or volunteer at EducateGirlsToEradicateHunger.org/5k-race.”

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