In any and all of Callie Whelan’s pursuits, three traits stand out: dedication, diligence, and drive. A rising junior at Ridgefield High School, Callie applies these attributes to change the world. She knows hard work ensures success, and channels this ambition by getting involved on both the local and global levels.
Callie relishes the opportunity to serve Ridgefield, the town that has shaped her since birth. An appointed member of the Ridgefield Youth Commission, she represents the voice of local teens. She works with town politicians and local leaders, proposing solutions to current and relevant town problems. RYC has advocated for LGBTQ+ integration, supervised Syrian refugee resettlement, advocated for substance abuse prevention, and raised funds for a peace mural.
Callie enables younger children to find their own voices as well. As a Role Model Mentor, she builds the confidence of elementary students by generating measurable academic success in core subjects, improving study habits, and sharpening sports skills.
Since 2013, National Charity League has permitted Callie to give back to the town that’s given so much to her. A recipient of the Gold Presidential Volunteer Service Award in both 2017 and 2018, Callie has provided over one hundred hours of community service to local philanthropies each year. She has written Class of 2019 articles for the monthly newsletter and led digital media efforts to exhibit the philanthropic work of her class. Her most recent position is Class Treasurer.
Callie’s local involvement inspired her to act globally as well. She is Ridgefield’s Team Lead in the International Business Internship Program (IBIP) and communicates weekly with the owner of a hair salon in Bauchi State, Nigeria. By supervising her teammates’ roles now as well as spearheading PR and creative problem-solving in her past role as Media Chair, Callie provides the small business with resources to flourish. Through IBIP, Callie spent a week at the July 2017 International Leadership and Business Summit at Georgetown University. She presented effective solutions to the problems of another business to renowned Nigerian and American political leaders and received a grant to implement her solutions. She returned to the program in July 2018 as a paid intern.
Callie took a hands-on approach in her next global endeavor by leading the Ridgefield chapter of buildOn, a nonprofit that builds schools in developing countries and focuses on creating equal educational opportunities for women. Soon after its formation, her team started fundraising to build a primary school in Senegal, one of the world’s poorest countries. They were the #1 ranked fundraising chapter in the country, exceeding their $30,000 goal by 233%. They traveled to Senegal in July 2017, built the school alongside community members, and immersed themselves in rural African culture. The team also went to Haiti in June 2018 and had yet another incredible experience.
These experiences have fostered Callie’s desire to explore and to work with others.
“It’s my priority to ensure that MPU girls realize the impact they can have on their town and their world. All it takes is confidence and a motivated mindset.”
Callie is thrilled to partner with Ms President US to develop the next generation of female leaders. She knows that their inspirational confidence will ignite a torch of ambition in girls even younger, thus fueling the pivotal cycle of female empowerment.