Zaniya Lewis, the Founder, CEO, and Executive Director of the #YesSheCanCampaign. Born in Newark, New Jersey, raised in Edgewater Park, the Founder shares her story of how her challenges and adversity has helped her flourish in the amazing woman she is today, and why she made the #YesSheCanCampaign. “My successes, adversities, and failures inspired me to create the #YesSheCanCampaign, that is now a national 501 (c)(3) non-profit.” – Zaniya Lewis
I was born premature and had about a 75% chance of dying. Growing up, My mom was unemployed for some part of my life and I was also a military kid. As I entered middle school, I was bullied and during my senior year while applying for colleges, it was hard for me to attend the colleges that I wanted to go to. On top of that, I have experienced racial discrimination a countless amount of times. Going through these different experiences made me feel lonely, made me think I wasn’t good enough. In 2016, I decided to create a space where young girls and young women can share their stories about their experiences and obstacles while they were striving to complete their education. I have also been given so many incredible opportunities and I wanted to keep the door open give others the same opportunities I was granted. My story is all about the climb!
How has the campaign grown with you over the past few years?
The #YesSheCanCampaign started as an instagram that shared the stories of women who were overcoming adversity while striving to complete their education. Since then, we have expanded to 11 programs, we have two college chapters that started this fall and we have reached over 1,000 + students through our programming and social media content. We have 14 national team members from across the country working on different aspects of the organization in their homes and college dorms! All of the national team members are in high school and college.
What does your role in the campaign entail?
I am the Founder and Executive Director of the #YesSheCanCampaign. I am in charge of everything at the #YesSheCanCampaign. I ensure that each department is uplifting our mission! I do everything from social media, to recruitment, showcasing opportunities, I basically do it all! I bleed the #YESSHECANCAMPAIGN!
What is one of your current or biggest goals?
As of now, I want to continue recruiting as many members for the #YesSheCanCampaign. While doing this, I attend the George Washington University studying Political Science. I hope to attend law school in the future. My goal is just to keep inspiring and empowering youth to change the world and to keep climbing!
Why is education, especially for women, so important to you?
Education is important to because education is a tool that cannot be taken away from you after you get that diploma. Education is the key to opportunity in this world. It is important that every girl and young women in this world receive a quality education so that they can achieve their goals and dreams.
How do you believe your experience with education (elementary, high school, college, etc.) has shaped the person you are now?
Education has given me the confidence to follow my dreams. I had so many incredible teachers who I still keep a relationship with to this day because they empowered me to keep following my dreams.
What role has your family/support system played in you achieving your goals?
My family is the reason I am here today! They have been an incredible support system. My mom and dad taught me to not be average and do something that is bigger than myself. They instilled in me that volunteering is your duty in life. My dad created the saying “KEEP CLIMBING!” for me when I was in high school, I decided to use that saying as the motto at the #YesSheCanCampaign because despite the obstacles that we may face, the climb is what we focus on! I truly thank my family for shaping me as a person!
How would you spend your time if you had a weekend free of any responsibility?