Graduate Student Starts Nonprofit to Prepare Young Girls for Greatness

The following story was featured in the Fall 2012 High Point University Magazine.

Nadia_resizedThere were roaring cheers from hundreds of spectators and blinding camera flashes when Nadia Shirin Moffett stood on stage in the Miss North Carolina USA 2010 final round. She had just finished days of interviews with judges and endured sleepless nights. She had rehearsed, practiced and prayed repeatedly. So had the other nine finalists who surrounded her. Like the crowd, she was anxious to get the results.

So it would seem that the moment when the crown touched her head – when the 2010 title was draped around her shoulders – would be the most important one of her life. But, it wasn’t.

“Miss N.C. USA is what brought me to the highlight of my life rather than being the highlight of my life,” says 27-year-old Moffett. “It turned out to be a vessel that propelled me to where I am today.”

Beauty is in the mind

Now a second-year graduate student in the nonprofit management program, Moffett discovered many benefits to wearing the crown – traveling the state to perform service work, meeting thousands of new faces, and receiving a scholarship to attend the Norcross Graduate School at High Point University, just to name a few.

But service was not new to her, and she optimized her reign to address a cause that had tugged at her heart for a while.

“We all struggle with our identity, and we all try to be this ideal person,” Moffett says. “I have seen women face this challenge for a long time.”

She had been involved in outreach programs for young girls before when she was an undergraduate student, and she had served as a resident assistant in an all girls dorm. In both places, she recognized those same struggles.

She experienced them herself during the Miss USA 2010 pageant, where she proudly represented North Carolina.

“There are some things you go through when you’re in an environment like that,” she says. “Little did I know that I would use the experience to help girls realize that beauty is in your mind.”

Identifying problems, creating solutions

Nadia Secondary Photo 1Moffett reached more than 500 girls during her reign by speaking to them at schools across North Carolina. In October 2010, just before her reign ended, she founded The Queen’s Foundation, a statewide nonprofit organization that “teaches young women to be queens in life and servant leaders in their communities.”

“I had a corporate career I could go back to,” says Moffett, who had worked in the financial industry before she received the Miss N.C. USA title. “But I wasn’t fulfilled in that anymore.”

For that reason, she chose the nonprofit management program at HPU, which equipped her with the knowledge and tools she needed to make her position as executive director of The Queen’s Foundation a full-time focus.

The organization aims to instill confidence, determination and leadership skills in girls in middle and high school through two separate programs. The “Powerhouse Project” is a mentor/internship program for girls who are academically gifted and already on the path to success. The “Make Me a Queen Program” targets girls who need development in specific areas and focuses on the six characteristics of a queen – beauty, character, talent, confidence, accountability and vision. Both groups of girls have great potential that they may not be aware of, which is why the organization assigns them internships with successful women mentors, service projects in their community and more.

“Leaders don’t just recognize problems, they create solutions,” Moffett often tells the young girls. “These girls are with us for one year, and we hold them accountable for all of their projects.”

An example of a project is The Literacy Movement, which is currently underway by a group of girls who have met with Guilford County School officials, discussed innovative curriculum and programs that would improve students’ reading comprehension skills, implemented those programs, and are currently raising funds for their efforts.

“Our result comes from whether or not these girls go back to school in the fall and engage their peers in their cause. We keep in touch with all of them and measure their results. We don’t want their success to end with us.”

With the accomplishment of completing projects and making a difference in their communities, Moffett says they learn the greatest lesson of all.

“We tell girls that your character is your crown,” she says. “Society tells them to fit in a mold that is set for them. But we tell them that they have an ability and an obligation to serve.”

Continuing toward greatness

Just as Moffett makes regular phone calls to girls who have gone through The Queen’s Foundation programs to ensure they haven’t given up on greatness, she, too, is continuing to grow and find solutions to problems each day through her graduate school classes at HPU.

“I feel like my classes are an extension of my work day and that they’re training me for the next day,” she says. “In one of my classes, we learned about means versus ends. Now I am always asking myself, ‘Is my organization doing something just to do it, or is there an important result behind it?’”

In fact, she brings groups of girls involved in her foundation to the HPU campus for training seminars and group sessions every Saturday during the summer and monthly during the school year. They sit in classrooms used by college students, and they realize that the dream of education and becoming successful is truly attainable.

“My focus now is building a society of women leaders, helping them serve their purpose, and creating a network of women to serve as mentors for these girls,” Moffett says. “Bringing the girls to this university is the start to many of those things. It shows them true excellence.”

Moffett will graduate in May 2013. She plans to continue the expansion of The Queen’s Foundation outreach to 10 percent of North Carolina counties within the next five years, focusing much of the growth in the northeastern part of the state.

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