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GWUOHS student Sarah Hesterman at UN Youth Assembly in February 

2016 George Washington University Online High School (GWUOHS) graduate Sarah Hesterman is eager to make an impact. She will attend her second United Nations’ Youth Assembly this week at the UN Headquarters in New York. 

Girl Up 

As a child of two military parents, Sarah is used to moving around. In 2013, Sarah and her family moved to Qatar. There, Sarah attended school and traveled to different countries including Jordan, Tanzania, and India during her breaks. 

“I met girls my age that were in such terrible situations,” Sarah said. “No matter where you are, you can see girls being marginalized and ostracized.”  

After learning more about human rights issues relating to adolescent girls in school her sophomore year, she began to look for ways to help. Sarah started the first-ever Girl Up program in Qatar, and continued her involvement with the organization when she returned to the States. Girl Up is a United Nations Foundation campaign that aims to help girls living in places where it is hardest to be a girl. 

As a teen advisor and service leader for Girl Up, Sarah mentors other girls in the campaign, works directly with the staff of the campaign to decide where the organization’s next focus should be, and advocates for the Girl Up cause.  She even gave a TEDx Talk, organized independently from Girl Up, in April at a local high school in Washington, DC about starting a youth-led movement.

The Switch to Online 

After returning from Qatar to her hometown of Seabrook, South Carolina, Sarah knew enrolling at GWUOHS would better fit her needs. 

“I knew I would be having more opportunities to travel as a teen advisor, and I knew that with online school, as long as I had my computer, I could learn from anywhere,” Sarah said.  

Sarah spoke about her experiences and her decision to switch online at the GWUOHS graduation. Her speech can be viewed here. 

The Future 

Sarah will participate in Long Island University’s Global College program this fall. She will travel to Costa Rica, Spain, Italy, Australia, China, and New York through the program. Her ultimate goal is to work for the United Nations, possibly with the World Bank. 

 “Schooling doesn’t have to be traditional,” Sarah said. “Doing online school pushed me towards my college program because it’s so different, and knowing online school was successful and worked for me opened my eyes a little more.”

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