“Girls Inc. gave me the opportunity to venture out and do some of the things I wouldn’t traditionally be able to do at home,” Nephtalie said.
Nephtalie Dorceus started at Girls Inc. in the 5th grade and stayed until she graduated from Lynn Classical High School. In middle school she attended the afterschool program Odyssey and summer STEM program Eureka!. Throughout her high school years, she participated in multiple teen programs such as Sister 2 Sister and Part of the Solution (POS) and became a Teen Health Ambassador (THA), where she delivered comprehensive sexual education to her peers. One of her favorite activities from that time was helping to run the Outreach Van.
“We would go out and pass out condoms and do community outreach,” she said. “We would park outside of the high schools, and students would be able to come and get condom “goodie bags,” fill out surveys, and get other resources around sexual health. It was cool and empowering to be able to do that, be one of those people who is a stakeholder in their community.”
Girls Inc. helped Nephtalie academically and encouraged her to hone her public speaking skills, which boosted her confidence.
“I’m a Girls Inc. National Hero, so Girls Inc. definitely helped academically,” Nephtalie said. Burdened with an early stuttering problem, she was persuaded to give public speaking a go. She was hesitant at first, but numerous opportunities to speak in front of her peers and at events bolstered her self-esteem and motivated her to seek out other forward-facing roles. “I’ve now been able to build upon that and master my own art of storytelling and advocacy. You can’t advocate for anybody else if you can’t advocate for yourself, and Girls Inc. really taught me that. That’s one thing I’ll always carry with me and appreciate.”
Nephtalie remembers how the supportive staff not only affected her personal growth but that of others immersed in the host of programs available to them.
“When I was in the middle school program, Bridget [Brewer] was my advisor,” she said. “She’s always been someone who is super encouraging and really great and shaped my experience at Girls Inc. She has provided such a foundation for many girls throughout their time at Girls Inc. I don’t think I have one peer from my class that doesn’t credit Bridget for some part of their life and upbringing and shaping.”
After graduating from Lynn Classical, Nephatlie matriculated at UMass Dartmouth and Springfield College, where she majored in health science, and her passion for public health and education grew. Her undergraduate years saw her return to Girls Inc. to advise both the THA and POS programs. Additionally, she delivered substance abuse prevention and healthy sexuality workshops and assisted and trained a group of teens to facilitate programs. “That was really cool,” she said.
For graduate school, she landed at New York University and studied global public health with a concentration in community and international health. Currently, Nephtalie is working as a lead contact tracer at the D.C. Department of Health and doing COVID-19 prevention work. Her role during the pandemic has been essential for helping slow the spread of the virus and keep communities safe.
“For many people, 2020 was super isolating,” she said. “So, there were times I would call folks and they would say they appreciated my phone call; otherwise, no one was speaking to them. This made me appreciative of the network and support system that I do have.”
Her passion for sexual education led her to create “Publicly Sexy,” an online blog dedicated to reproductive and sexual health for women. In her free time, she enjoys doing anything creative, from styling hair to dancing to stepping.
As we all navigate our space today, her advice to current Girls Inc. girls and alums is to focus on your passion and rely on your network. She encourages young women to connect with individuals whose work they find interesting and interview them about their educational and professional paths. “If you’re in college or about to graduate, it’s time to really lean on your network,” she says. “I can’t count how many times I’ve reached out to my peers, Bridget, and other Girls Inc. folks about different resources, opportunities, and connections… Girls Inc. is such a large organization, you’d be surprised how many people have gone through it and still consider themselves a “Girls Inc. girl.”