It might be easy for many of us to forget that we were once adolescents, and to forget that the anguish, confusion, and fear that might be too easily written off as “drama” once consumed our world. In this video, Elizabeth Page DeVere (MATC) presents on her project, “Women’s Role in Helping Young Girls Spread Their Wings,” an invitation to consider how adults—particularly adult women—can be present with adolescent girls in a way that affirms and empowers. Elizabeth shares from her own experience to reflect on how easily adults, and society at large, dismiss the experience of adolescent girls.

“There are people in those bodies, hearts beating in their chests, souls in each and every girl just wanting to know that they’ll be okay, that the emotions they’re experiencing are valid, that they matter. But […] instead of being seen as a human in process, adolescent girls became problems to fix, hurdles to climb, phases to wait out.”

Adolescent girls became problems to fix, hurdles to climb, phases to wait out.

Elizabeth shares a story about a character she dreamed into existence as she wrote this project, a story that highlights the common adolescent experience of feeling left all alone to figure out how to grow up. Instead, Elizabeth challenges us to consider the profound impact of adult women telling adolescent girls that they matter and validating their experience, their confusion, and their grief.

“If women can find a way to hold their own awkward, painful, traumatic memories safely, I believe that they can increase their capacity to hold the holy mess of adolescence.”

We are consistently inspired by the work that our graduating students present in their Integrative Projects, which serve as a capstone of their time in graduate school—born out of years of study, countless conversations with peers and faculty, and each student’s distinctive embodiment of text, soul, and culture. You can see more videos from our 2016 graduating cohort here.