We asked Kylah, Oriana and Tarina, three alumnae of Running Start’s High School Program, what they learned from the experience. They described the program as supportive, unmatched and powerful, and they shared the reason why they would “a million times over” recommend it to others and their advice for our Summer 2021 participants.

Interested in the Running Start Summer 2021 High School Program? Learn more and apply by February 15 (for priority review) or April 30 (regular deadline): bit.ly/ApplyHS-Now

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Responses have been lightly edited for clarity.

What was the most valuable moment, experience or connection you had during the High School Program?

Kylah Hughley: I met so many talented, intelligent and beautiful women during this program…


Every February since 1976 has been designated Black History Month in the United States, with the intention of celebrating the unique accomplishments, identities and culture(s) of Black people across the country and the world.

Running Start is celebrating Black History Month in part by uplifting past blog posts written by some of the incredible Black women in our community. They are all trailblazers in their own right, contributing to representation and inclusion of young Black women in politics. Read on to learn more about them and why they’re committed to being leaders!

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Pictured, L-R: Allyson Carpenter, Cierra Jackson, Reniya Dinkins and a group of high school women, Ewurama Appiagyei-Dankah, Yolian Ogbu.

How do I know #ILookLikeAPolitician?

By Yolian Ogbu

This post from Running Start’s…


Three alumnae of Running Start’s Fall Mentorship Program reflect on their transformative experience. Though they all had different goals, they found that the supportive community of the program — made up of peer mentorship “mastermind” sessions and question-and-answer sessions with high-level women leaders — helped them grow both professionally and personally, with astonishing results.

Responses have been lightly edited for clarity.

What drew you to apply for the Fall Mentorship Program?

Lubna: Susannah emailed me, telling me that she thought I should apply, and I was grateful for the potential growth opportunity. …


By Serena Saunders

Amid closing out my work responsibilities for the year, studying for final exams and baking holiday cookies with my mom, I always try to use December to reflect on the months before it. This year’s no different: I’m thinking about ways I’ve grown professionally, made new connections and tried to expand my horizons.

In particular, I’m looking at ways to reconnect with old mentors, such as professors who have written me recommendation letters and internship coordinators who connected me to other opportunities. But I don’t need anything from them now, which brought me to (what I think…


By Susannah Wellford

This post is not an endorsement of any political candidates or parties.

The 2020 Presidential election is probably the most consequential election in my lifetime, and probably yours too. I know my vote has never counted more, and that the very future of our country is riding on the outcome. I’ve been meditating and drinking a lot of herbal tea, but it’s hard not to worry.

Regardless of who wins on Election Day, one thing is for certain: we won’t have enough women serving in elected office.

Despite huge gains for elected women in recent years — especially 2018 when we saw 36 new women enter Congress (many of them diverse BIPOC and LGBTQIA+) — America is still…


By Vasundhara Kamath

It takes a village not just to shape a child’s future, but also to shape a cause such as promoting women’s political leadership. After all, the inertia of status quo needs force, and lots of it, to change its momentum. This has been at the heart of major historic endeavors such as the women’s suffrage movement, but holds equally true for efforts of all sizes.

This idea of collaboration for change runs through the foundation of Running Start.


By Phoebe Chambers

In June, I ran for office for the first time: SGA President. I had a great group of friends supporting me. I was qualified. I had endorsements from students of every grade, gender, race, ethnicity, and religion. I posted speeches and my platform on my Instagram. I even had a great slogan — Chambers for Change.

My heart broke when the election results came out and I lost. My friends blamed it on poor turnout or technical issues with the ballot, but I thought I wasn’t likable enough. Maybe I came across as too bossy or angry…


By Shania Hurtado Valbuena

My first year of high school paralleled the collapse of my country, Venezuela. I read and watched the news closely, praying for change, for progress, for the preservation of democracy and human rights. I watched as a crippling government and failed state shattered my family’s stability, as food insecurity, economic hyperinflation, and perpetual fear quickly took hold. I watched as close relatives became victims of gun violence, violent protests, and theft. I watched as what should have been a simple surgery quickly became a catastrophe as the broken hospital system lacked basic medical supplies like anesthesia.


As the country mourns George Floyd and too many other Black Americans who have been the victims of racism and police brutality, Running Start is angry and heartbroken.

In this moment, our commitment is to the young Black women who are integral to our community and our hope for a better future. As we know, conversations change depending on who’s at the table, which is why Running Start trains young women to run for political office. The great Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm (the first Black woman elected to Congress) once said, “If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring in a folding chair.”

That’s why Running Start can and will use our power to change what leadership looks like in this country. Our duty as an…


By Sara Blanco

You can find Running Start’s official statement here.

As a Latina, I’ve felt at times that my presence is contingent. I am shaken, for example, by assertions that my own country, the United States, should not welcome people like me, the natural-born citizen children of immigrants. But on the balance, I am very lucky that I don’t experience existential terror due to individual and systemic anti-Black racism. Race is complicated, and my relationship to my own ethnicity is, too. My Latinx relatives who live in the US are not safe, not even from violence or death. But…

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