Congratulations to Hanna Meyers, one of our Ron Bell Inspirational Leaders of the Year! We are constantly blown away by this young woman and are so excited to have her share her story with us!
"If someone had told me at nine years old that I would love being a camp counselor, would go on to co-lead the camp twice, and would start a corresponding chapter at my school as an underclassman, never in a million years would I have believed that person.
In fifth grade, the middle school counselor distributed flyers for a Girl Talk camp, and being nine, I read “arts and crafts” and decided that I wanted to sign up. I was too shy to ask my friends to join me, so I attended camp by myself. Just one week of camp was enough to change my world, and I wanted to start a chapter so I could share what I learned with my school’s community. I returned to camp every summer, and in ninth grade, I became a counselor for the first time. I was eager to be behind the scenes of all the “Girl Talk magic,” but I was terrified of being in the spotlight. I ended up loving Girl Talk even more, and I signed up for as many Girl Talk-related events as I could, including the LeaderU summit to Washington, D.C., in July 2014 and the LeadHERship summit to Camp Twin Lakes in Winder, GA, in November 2015.
In spring 2014, I began planning for my chapter, and in the fall of my sophomore year, Galloway Girl Talk (GGT) finally became a reality. GGT was my favorite part of the day for three years, and I poured all the love I had into the chapter so I could inspire girls in the same way that Girl Talk inspired me in sixth grade. As a junior, I joined Girl Talk’s Teen Advisory Board (TAB), and it provided another space for me to learn about effective leadership and to continue to serve Girl Talk outside of camp and GGT.
In spring 2016, Girl Talk offered me a position as Co-Lead Counselor at camp. I had never even dreamed of having the opportunity to run camp; I thought I was too quiet to be that person, but I realized I was ready to let go of shy, nine-year-old me and embrace the mature, confident leader I had become. On the last day of camp in my second year as Co-Lead Counselor, Girl Talk chose me as the co-recipient of the Ron Bell Family Foundation Inspirational Leader Award, and I am honored to share this huge recognition with Darya Khani, one of the girls I grew up with in Girl Talk.
In high school, I chose a few passions – Girl Talk included – and immersed myself in them. I started a grammar club before starting GGT; was a four-year singles starter on the varsity tennis team and was co-captain as a senior; was a coach for the Universal Tennis Academy for two years; and was an intern for Galloway’s communications department for three years.
I now attend Elon University where I plan to major in communications design. Outside the classroom, I plan to join Elon’s club tennis team; assist with the yearbook and/or student-run newspaper; and hopefully help Elon’s own communications department and find a position similar to the internship I held at Galloway. In addition, I plan to start a Girl Talk chapter near Elon, and when I have the opportunity to study abroad, I hope to start additional chapters wherever I go.
Mahatma Gandhi once said, “In a gentle way, you can shake the world.” Before Girl Talk, I let my introversion consume me because I had no idea a “quiet leader” could exist. I relied heavily on my peers to be the first to speak up or to take action. Now, I know a quiet leader is exactly who I am, and through Girl Talk, I found a balance between using my voice and letting others use theirs. But the most fulfilling of all, I am discovering opportunities every day to encourage others to find their balance as well. Thank you, Girl Talk, for believing in me when I did not know how to; for providing the resources I needed to reach the potential I did not know I had; and for changing my life when I thought I would always be quiet. I am so grateful to be able to share my knowledge and inspire the world one girl at a time."
Thank you, Hanna, for welcoming Girl Talk into your life and sharing the light you found inside of you with so many others. We hope you continue this mission, and can't wait to see what wonders the future holds for you!