Michelle Lopez Alvarez is a Filipina who holds a Master’s degree in International Development Policy from Seoul National University and is a Bachelor of Arts in Speech Communication cum laude from the University of the Philippines-Diliman. She has been a Girl Scout since age six and is now a member of GSP’s National Program Committee. She represented WAGGGS at the UN High Level Panel Meeting with Young People in London and the 34th World Conference in Scotland. She is a Juliette Low Scholar and Asia Pacific Regional Summit delegate. She describes how her experiences as a Girl Scout led her into becoming an advocate for girls and young women worldwide.
Many people struggle to find what their true passion is. Some are fortunate to discover it in the university or the workplace, while others wait for many years to fully realize what they want to do in life. At 16, while attending the 2005 Girl Scouts of the Philippines’ National Senior-Cadet Conference (NSCC) in Ating Tahanan, Baguio City, I discovered I wanted to invest time and resources into something worthy.
It was a freezing afternoon when I first set foot in the dynamic city of Baguio. It was my first time to be sent by Manila Council in a national Girl Scouting event. Little did I know that such five-day conference would make an impact in my life, that it would pave the way to where I would like to be after a few years.
I met new friends during those five days. I discovered my weaknesses and empowered my strengths. My senses were awakened by lectures and fun activities. But more than those, I went home with a new vision: Be an advocate for girls and young women!
Six years later, here I am, an active young adult volunteer at the Girl Scouts of the Philippines. I claim that this will be a journey to last forever. Yes, I will be a Girl Scout forever. Girl Scouting has empowered me to become a woman who is independent, loves to speak, and gets excited around girls and young adults who speak their mind. I have grown in this organization, and I want to pay forward.
On November 2, 2012, I went to the UN High Level Panel meeting in London. I had uncertainties, but I knew I was finally fulfilling what I have always wanted to do – represent the voice of the youth. True enough, I was given a chance to speak in front of eminent persons around the world, including other young people who share the same passion. It was so surreal; I was on the verge of tears because I was overwhelmed by that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. There I was, standing on behalf of the world’s young girls and adults, telling policy-makers that we, the youth, want to be included in the development process.
Last February, I attended the 67th Graduation Ceremony of Seoul National University and the Graduate School of International Studies Commencement Ceremony where I received my diploma and was awarded the Distinguished Thesis Award. I was so proud to have been chosen to represent the 4th batch of the International Development Policy Program and to tell the world that young people can make things happen! It was not only a milestone in my academic pursuit, but also a testimony of how God makes the universe conspire to help us fulfill our dreams. Education has effectively equipped me with the sensitivity to be aware of the issues girls and young women face today.
My heart beats for girls and young women. I envision a world where every girl goes to school, where she has access to health rights, where she is given a voice in decision-making, and where she is empowered in her community. Reality tells us that we have to do more to achieve that vision. I am doing my role in this society so that these dreams are realized, through small steps that would eventually lead to big changes.