Meetings with Remarkable Men & Women: Valerie Weisler
By all appearances, Valerie Weisler resembles any ordinary 19-year-old with self-proclaimed affections for chai lattes and taking selfies with random dogs. But the young Muhlenberg College student is distinctly extraordinary, having already achieved notoriety around the world as a Speaking Ambassador for the US State Department and the founder and CEO of The Validation Project, an award-winning, international non-profit organization working with over 6,000 students in 1,000 schools in 105 countries to assist implement social justice initiatives. She joined Laurel Springs’ students and faculty on November 16th for our monthly Meetings with Remarkable Men & Women Symposium.
At only 14, Ms. Weisler was moved to create The Validation Project after witnessing a schoolmate being bullied in the hallway. A child of divorce who had also been bullied at school by a group of girls she referred to as The Nianas, Ms. Weisler approached the boy to impart words of comfort. Uttering one simple phrase, “You matter,” proved to have life-altering results for both teenagers.
This special act coupled with Ms. Weisler’s recollections of other students she saw bullied lit a spark and pushed Weisler to teach herself web design in order to a build a platform that would be able to change the world. “No matter where they lived, or who they were, every kid that had a struggle also had a skill,” Weisler said.
This idea of self-empowerment through the employment of one’s own talents has become the foundation of The Validation Project, which operates in two parts. First, the organization aims to affirm that all teens have worth; it then provides a mentor and other resources necessary to put that worth into action to solve the world’s problems. Some notable successes include:
This is For the Girls – When Valeria, a teenage girl from Peru, reported to The Validation Project that her school told female students to go back to villages to become housewives, the group implemented This is For the Girls, a campaign that gained so much traction, the school implemented a women’s rights curriculum. Valeria is now a student at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City.
Crave the Brave – A global viral photography campaign committed to creating a society where acceptance is not limited by gender, sexuality, race, religion, character, etc.
Ms. Weisler also provided tips on how students could empower themselves in everyday life:
1. Find Your Passion and Embrace It – Be proud of what makes you unique.
2. Fake It ‘Til You Make It – If you haven’t figured out your passion, you will.
3. Go Big. Then Go Home and Watch TV. But First, Go Big – Go outside your comfort zone, which is where the greatest successes are achieved.
4. Know You Can Be Rich and Poor – Every person experiences struggle. Be proud of all parts of your story.
5. Treat Yourself – Allow time to make yourself happy.
6. Remember Your Roots – Acknowledge and be proud of the people, places, and things you love.
Ms. Weisler was recently honored as one of L’Oreal Paris’s ten Women of Worth, a project that celebrates women who find beauty in giving back to the communities, and is currently working to build a Validation Project mobile app, hold a Validation Project conference, and implement, Bookmark, a program to assist educators make their mark through literature.
Past Meetings with Remarkable Men & Women
Interested in learning more about our Meetings with Remarkable Men & Women Symposia? Check out prior event recaps, featuring guest speakers: