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Exponential Growth

For the past two years, I have had the immense privilege and opportunity to be surrounded by the most passionate, kind-hearted, genuine, proactive, philanthropically-minded women, who constantly uplift and inspire me. Belles have been a constant source of support and encouragement, a safe space and an oasis away from South Campus weeder classes and the competitive nature of pre-health life. Belles has not only offered limitless community service opportunities, but also countless other ways to learn and grow. From Stop the Bleed’s bystander intervention training to my very first hackathon, I have learned so much more than I ever could in a normal classroom setting. Furthermore, I have had many meaningful and thought-provoking conversations that are often neglected, overlooked, or deemed unimportant to a college student.

Through Belles, I have experienced exponential growth. From showing up to my interview in a sundress with espadrilles—business casual was such a foreign concept—to now understanding how to conduct myself in professional settings and garnering research positions and global health service opportunities, I’m so incredibly grateful for the role Belles has played in my professional development. 

Most importantly however, Belles has given me one of the few spaces at such a large school, where I feel like a person rather a number. I’m always in awe of my fellow Belles who have a plethora of activities, academics, and other commitments to juggle, but still find time to get to know me and show that they care. In Belles, I have met some of my best friends. While, Winter Quarter was characterized by a never-ending list of things to do, and so many days that seemed simultaneously too long, but also like there wasn’t enough time to accomplish everything, there was always a Belles event to look forward to and a Belle who was there for me. 

Winter Quarter is notoriously known for being long, dreary and discouraging. However, there were so many heartwarming moments, from dinner with my little to study dates to surprising a Belle who was studying abroad with some of my first-year Baby Belles–all in one night. At our very last Women’s Leadership Conference Committee meeting, I felt so blessed. Blessed to have gluten-free cauliflower pizza, the most warm and wonderful accommodating host, the chance to work with such talented and strong women, and to be able to call them my supportive community. As a final activity, we passed around a ball of yarn, offering affirmations, and I couldn't help but get emotional. Admittedly, I am a very emotional, cheesy, occasionally over-sentimental person, but I genuinely feel so immensely blessed to have these amazing people in my life. I will continue to carry the string around with me (it’s on my backpack) as a reminder that we are all connected and there for each other even when we're not necessarily together, bound by our love for service and for each other. 

Kelsey Kuwahara
Philanthropy Distinguished Belle


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