For some individuals, it takes years to find their passion, if ever. For Saint Saviour student Chelsea Miller, now in her senior year, her commitment to women’s rights came early and often.
“I think it happened at a young age. Coming from an all-girls school fostered my desire,” said Miller. “I’ve been around women my whole life. I was raised with four sisters.”
This past December, Miller was chosen to attend the Women’s Forum Conference in Burma, organized by Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi. Only 300 women around the world attended and Miller received an all-expense paid trip to the conference, which was designed to strengthen women’s contributions in the business sector.
Miller was both excited and shocked to hear the news that she had been chosen to attend the conference. “We didn’t find out until a week before the trip,” she recalled. Miller wrote an essay regarding how the trip would help her and the leadership back at home. Her essay’s strength, along with her work in the ANNpower Vital Voices Leadership Forum, won her a spot on the trip.
“It was a 22-hour plane ride,” recalled Miller, who had never traveled that far prior to visiting Burma. “It was complete culture shock to the extreme.”
Once settled, Miller learned a lot from the speakers during the conference, who included Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi. “I just realize how much we have in common, especially empowerment, though we’re so different. It was interesting to hear leaders,” she said.
During the first day of the conference, Miller learned about the death of Nelson Mandela. “That moment resonated, to find out this amazing leader perished,” she recalled. “We didn’t have wi-fi so we didn’t find out until the conference.”
Her travels included some of the poorer areas in Burma, which shifted Miller’s perspective on life. “There was so much poverty, like no running water,” she said. “You wake up and realize that you are not entitled to everything you have. There are clearly other people that don’t have those things.”
Miler doesn’t yet know which college she will be attending this fall, (Brown and Georgetown are two of her top picks) yet she has great ambitions for the future. “My dream job is to travel the world and travel for women’s rights, using my talents to make a greater impact,” said Miller. Some of the places she’d like to visit include Southeast Asia and Australia.
Although she’s looking forward to a bright future that includes helping women, Miller will always remember the invaluable lessons and experiences at St. Saviour. “It has been amazing,” she said. “I love the teachers and the environment. I learned to be empowered. It’s so diverse as well. It’s given me perspective.”
Born and raised in Brooklyn, Miller attributes her motivation to her mother. “She’s been such a strong influence on my life, what she’s been through.”
When she’s relaxing, Miller enjoys hanging out with family and friends as well as singing and dancing. However, her passion for women’s rights is always a part of her days. Her favorite subject is 20th Century Women’s Politics.
Some young people may not realize the positive impact they can have on society. Miller has some advice to those individuals. “I would just encourage other teenagers to take advantage of opportunities. You can make a difference,” she said. “Being able to help is such an amazing feeling.”