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Joy and Strength

She’s proving that when ‘SHE Wins!’ … we all do

Perspective—and a sense of humor—is crucial to connect with high school and younger-aged students.

“My girls call me an old lady,” laughs A’Dorian Murray-Thomas ’16, at once exuberantly optimistic and fiercely pragmatic. Despite her advanced age (21), she has wisdom, empathy, and vision to spare, all of which she’s putting to use on behalf of her charges.

By day, she works directly with at-risk or suspended high schoolers in Newark, N.J., helping them develop social, academic, and emotional strategies to succeed. By night—and weekends (and always, really)—she serves as founder and executive director of SHE Wins!, her Lang Opportunity Project turned sustainable real-world nonprofit that helps girls whose lives have been affected by violence to excel in and out of school.

It’s a mission dear to Murray-Thomas’s heart—when she was 7, her father was murdered.

“My goal is for my girls to learn how to become more in tune with their strengths, gifts, and potential,” she says. “I want them to know that, no matter what they have gone through, they can achieve their goals.”

Part of this comes through community-service projects, networking sessions, mentorship and leadership programs, and poetry and public-speaking workshops Murray-Thomas organizes for her SHE Wins! girls; part of this comes from the living, breathing example she provides as a warm and attentive role model, friend, and fellow traveler.

“Ensuring that SHE Wins! remains an organization that’s not just doing things for girls, but with them, giving them the opportunity to take control and have a real say, is crucial to me,” she says. “From the moment I started this, I knew that creating a space for girls to feel safe and empowered and loved and believed-in is something I had to do.”