“I was in 6th grade when I was faced with a choice. So far, I had been blessed, through scholarship, to get a private school education where I was challenged academically and spiritually. However, circumstances changed, and my family and I realized we would no longer be able to afford my school’s tuition, and that we would need to start thinking about how I could get to college with the little resources we had at our disposal. That was when Girls Hope of Pittsburgh stepped into the picture. At 11 years old, the only thing I recognized about the opportunity Boys Hope Girls Hope provided was a chance to stay in my school and to live in the pretty red brick house on the hill.
Fifteen years later, I work in the IT Department at PNC Bank, where I have been successful in a number of technology roles. At work, I am a champion of diversity and inclusion. As a leadership team member with two of our employee affinity groups, I work with other employees to put on programs around professional development and education about other cultures. I also sit on a board of young professional women with the YWCA Greater Pittsburgh where we work toward eliminating racism and empowering women through networking, programming, and fundraising. Perhaps most importantly, I sit on the Board of Directors for Girls Hope of Pittsburgh.
What happened in those 15 years? Everything. I was exposed to residential counselors, teachers, volunteers, board members, and staff who created a safe space for me to experiment and to grow. They showed me what it was to push the boundaries of what I always thought I could be and achieve. As I finished middle school, excelled in high school, and set a foundation in college, the program was there. I could never thank those who have funded and pushed this mission with their time and treasures enough. They saw a flame and shamelessly encouraged me to fan it into an inferno.
I accept the calling to be a woman for others and will always strive to do more for those that are coming after me. In gratitude for all that I have been given, this is just the beginning.”
Anissa Gilbert, a Girls Hope of Pittsburgh Alumnae, graduated from Duquesne University with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, Information Systems and Marketing.