Photograph by Elana Banks
“You Could Call Me A Socialite”
She’s finally here!! This editorial is my personal brain child, stemmed from the dreams of a 7 year-old girl in Oklahoma, looking to change the world and improve her community by any means possible. It’s ironic, isn’t it? How our world constantly clamors for young innovators and intellectuals, but refuses to offer equal opportunities, platforms, and positive communities to shape the future world-shakers of our generation. This is why we are here. This is why YouGoGirl is an asset to the local community and political economy.
For those of you who don’t know me, hello! I feel I should share part of my story with you, as you have invested time in visiting my project. My name is Kate McConnell, and I am a high school senior here in OKC. I am the daughter of a community college professor, a civil trial lawyer, and I have a cat named Isis (who was named 7 years ago by the way, is super moody and loves water). I live in Ward 6 of OKC- the wealthiest, and poorest ward of the city, as well as the ward with the highest crime rate. Since I was 6 years old, my goal in life has been simple, “to help people”. This has influenced every activity, decision, and program I have taken part in- from science fair, to club participation, to student council position. Last summer, my life changed when I attended the American Legion Auxiliary’s “Girls State” Program, and was elected to represent the state of Oklahoma at “Girl’s Nation” in Washington D.C., with my personal inspiration and role model, Chloe Shames (Political Veritas).
It was during the day of the U.S. capitol visit that my inspiration for “YouGoGirl” came about. The day was long, with us partnering up with the “Boy’s Nation” senators, and visiting our own and assorted Congressman. First up was Senator Jim Inhofe (R), who proceeded to ask Chloe if she was a flaming liberal, prompted mainly by her racial ambiguity, and proceeded to leave us out of conversations about planes, and future plans, as if we didn’t have any ideas for our own futures in politics. Next up, was Representative Markwayne Mullins (R), who pretended like both Chloe and I were invisible, taking almost 10 minutes to address the fact that we were even in the room, and brushing over us with minimal conversation, in an effort to continue playful conversation with our male colleagues. I went to see my representative, Steve Russell (R), and this was the most disheartening visit for me. I had gathered over 142 pages of testimonials from friends worried about the Affordable Care Act, attending terrible public schools, facing racial discrimination, and struggling with life in Oklahoma. I began to ask Representative Russell questions, but was interrupted, and lectured about the importance of religion, and rejection of “climate change prophecies”. I struggled to interject politely, wanting so desperately to hold my own in a conversation, and share my important research. Finally, when I was so apparently showing copious amounts of frustration, he stopped me, and said “you’re a beautiful young lady, keep at it”, and left the room. This day was eye-opening for me. I had worked hard to get to my position- worked desperately hard, in fact. My looks, my mannerisms, my face, my hair, my clothes should not influence the change and the impact I am able to create. They weren’t listening, they weren’t encouraging, they were limiting me and my thoughts and my words with every action, every breath. It was that day that I decided the direction of my life should not simply be to have a successful career in politics, but to aim higher. To be an academic, focused on global health, prosperity, and development. To use politics as a platform- not a career trajectory. To be in politics is simply not enough. One must aim to inspire, to advocate, to yell, to cheer, to cry, to fight, and to dream astronomically huge dreams.
YouGoGirl was designed with the intent of reaching every girl, like me, who yearned to make change, but maybe couldn’t find all of the particular resources in one spot. This website will impact our community. It will offer editorials, news, art, resources, a positive environment, recommended internships and scholarships, programs, college advice, life advice, fashion, and everything else that makes us proud and excited to be who we are as young, diverse, inspired, and powerful women.
When I approached Milley VanSant with this idea in early August, the whole program seemed like a shot in the dark- possible but difficult to match. I have been so unbelievably blessed to find someone with such a fire for service and a passion for progress. Without her, this program would not exist. It is when we come together that we are most powerful, and I will always be grateful to Milley for believing in me, at every level, at every step.
As Senator Kamala Harris once said, “progress is won and lost with every generation. The gains we make may be incremental at times but that doesn’t mean we stop fighting.” It is time for everyone to see what #oklahomawomendo, because we are more than just OK. We are strong. We are brave. We may be republicans or democrats, but above all, we are progressive, kind, and honest. We are DREAMers. We are immigrants. We are LGBTQIA+. We are the reflections of every single man, women, and child in the prison system. We are victims. We are survivors. We take on each other’s stories and pasts when we come together as a community. We are each other, and we are the future.
My name is Kate McConnell, and welcome to my most important work.