Pushing Past Societal Expectations at ALA Empire Girls State

Hello everyone, my name is Sophie LaForest. My time here at American Legion Auxiliary Empire Girls State has been amazing.  I’ve grown up in government; my mom has worked in New York State government for almost twenty-five years. Right now, she is the Deputy Commissioner of Agriculture and Markets. At ALA Empire Girls State, my county executive appointed me the Commissioner of Agriculture.

ALA Empire Girls State (EGS) has been super interesting to me because I have seen this whole process in real life. I have shadowed my assemblywoman, Pat Fahey, and sat in and helped vote on bills. Soon, we’ll be voting on our own ALA EGS bills. I’ve written many letters to congressmen and women, but now I know how to properly draft a bill! This opportunity has given me deeper understanding and appreciation of the real-world experiences I’ve had. I campaigned for Governor Cuomo starting in third grade, and since have been involved in as many local elections as I’ve known about. But, never have I campaigned myself. I ran for Governor of EGS Tuesday night. All the while thinking of all of the amazing women that came from all over New York State and thrive in government.

While my mom always said it’s a popularity contest, the girls here don’t treat campaigning, and elections as such. I’ve learned that the citizens of ALA EGS are focused on the speeches and how each candidate carries herself. Many girls made posters or handed out candy or even met with different floors, but the biggest thing were the speeches. They offered the most insight into the women running for office. Campaigning in the real world is harder because we need to inform people of the election before we can start talking candidates.

Kirsten Gillibrand spoke at my sister’s graduation and inspired me to really push myself.  As a woman, I have a duty to push past societal expectations and to empower more generations.  ALA Empire Girls State has offered me that exact opportunity. The opportunity to take risks with little consequence of failing.  The environment here is incredibly supportive and the brilliance of all these girls is astounding. I would like to close with a thank you to my mom, Pat Fahey, Kirsten Gillibrand and Hillary Rodham Clinton for inspiring me to be politically active and giving me my voice. Thank you to everyone at ALA EGS for allowing me to TRY. Without the girls and staff here, I really could not have done this!

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