Girls Are… who they want to be

Alexa and Reagan speech-language pathology

Speech-language pathology majors Reagan Little ’23, M’24 and Alexa Deinnocentiis ’23, M’24 and Dr. Michelle Scesa, chair of LVC’s Speech-Language Pathology Program, share a passion for empowering young women.

They turned this drive into Girls Are…, a social group for middle-school-aged girls in the Lebanon County area. Girls Are… aims to empower girls by reinforcing their self-esteem, setting goals, being mindful, and reminding them that they can succeed anywhere.

“Our main goal is to teach girls that they can be anything they want to be, and they are strong and intelligent,” Little said. “This open-ended title fit perfectly with our mission, and we were so excited to find a name that was perfect for our new social group.”

The idea for the program was born when Chea Snyder, the department’s clinical education coordinator and assistant professor, spoke about her experience running a similar program. Little immediately approached Scesa to start the program at The Valley and bring Deinnocentiis onboard.

“Once Alexa agreed to join us, we started gathering research to back up our plans to create a program that helps young girls in our community,” Little said. “We found some amazing research that shows the importance of educating young girls about confidence, body positivity, mindfulness, and empowerment. From there, Alexa and I wrote a curriculum for our group with Dr. Scesa’s help.”

Each week consists of many different activities. One constant is how the girls open the meeting—by saying what makes them excellent. Each participant finishes the sentence “Today, I am awesome because…” as a reminder that they are excellent.

“This is one of my favorite activities to do with the girls because we see their confidence grow each week,” Little said. “The first week, some of the girls struggled to find something that made them awesome. Now, the girls are quick to answer why they are awesome today. It shows that they are consciously thinking about all the amazing things they do every day, which I think has contributed to a boost in their self-esteem.”

This program also benefitted Little and Deinnocentiis personally and professionally.

Girls Are… has been such an amazing opportunity for me to work one-on-one with young people in my community and gain a taste of what it is like to plan and organize lessons—all things that I will do as an SLP,” Little said. “I have always loved working with kids, but my experience with Girls Are… has further confirmed that I always want to be involved in improving the lives of kids.”

“This project provided additional learning I could never get in the classroom,” Deinnocentiis said. “I learned so much about the other people in the group and myself. It is a great break during the week to focus on my mental health. In class, we learn about development across the lifespan, and the hardships people experience at different stages of life. But talking with people in the age group is more beneficial than reading a textbook in class.”

Girls Are… has had an extremely successful first semester. The group will run again in the spring with a session start date in Feb. 2022. The organizers hope to reach even more young girls to help them find their confidence, strength, and power.


Kayleigh Johnson, Marketing & Communications Intern

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