SFU Beedie alumnus empowers high-school students through educational non-profit

Jul 13, 2022

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Claire Connop, SFU Beedie alumnus and co-founder of Glow Within Foundation

Growing up, Claire Connop recognized that society places a taboo on many topics around female physical and mental health. We typically don’t talk openly about these topics and our school systems tend to provide little education for girls and young women going through pivotal life changes. She decided to do something about it.

Together with co-founders she met in her BUS 477 course at SFU Beedie, Connop co-founded the Glow Within Foundation, a Vancouver-based non-profit that empowers feminine-identifying high school students by conducting educational workshops that support their physical, mental and emotional health. At the time of writing, Glow Within has worked with over 10 schools, educated over 600 students and conducted over 100 workshops.

Glow Within provides resources dedicated to educating high school students about their minds, bodies and common pressures often faced by young women. They aim to address the gap for girls who lack a close relationship with an older female mentor figure, or who find it difficult to access information and tools to help navigate experiences specific to girls and women.

“Glow Within was inspired by my own personal experiences as well as conversations I had with friends about their experiences growing up,” says Connop. “Unfortunately, our society normalizes girls and young women being catty and competitive with one another, rather than supportive and empathetic. There’s also a lack of resources and education on our bodies which leaves us to resort to Google to learn about this stuff on our own. Glow aims to build a community where students understand that all women face similar challenges and that supporting each other will make the process a lot easier.”

Workshops conducted by university student volunteers cover age-appropriate topics such as menstruation, setting boundaries and developing healthy relationships, body image and social media, sex education and consent, and more. The volunteers work to create an open environment where the facilitators can connect with the students and share relatable experiences and create a community of confident, empowered women.

Connop, a BBA graduate who hails from Edmonton, A.B., had been intrigued by business and entrepreneurship since a young age. After exploring the different concentrations available at SFU Beedie in her first couple of years, Connop’s favourite course was BUS 238: Intro to Entrepreneurship and Innovation, and an important reason why she decided to major in marketing and also pursue the Charles Chang Certificate in Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

While completing her degree, Connop completed two co-op terms: one was an internship with Colliers International and the other was an eCoop where she was paid to work full-time on Glow Within. Both co-ops strengthened her existing skills while developing new skills that are transferrable to future jobs.

“My eCoop was an extraordinary experience for which I was very grateful,” says Connop. “Being able to dedicate my entire summer to Glow Within allowed my team to make big strides in our early stages. The eCoop program also connected me with a mentor who helped me navigate the process of creating a non-profit from the bottom up and taught me a ton about strategy and networking.”

In January 2021, Connop co-founded the Glow Within Foundation with two other SFU Beedie students she met in BUS 477: Start-up Experience, Karanpreet Kaur Johar and Marzia Sager. In September 2021, Glow Within launched their program in eight pilot schools across Surrey, Burnaby and the Tri-Cities.

“There were many memorable moments during my time at SFU Beedie,” says Connop. “But meeting my Glow Within co-founders in BUS 477 was a highlight of my degree. Glow Within helped give me a purpose and fueled me in the last two years of university. I wouldn’t have been able to push through without my co-founders who shared the same passion.”

Learn more about the Glow Within Foundation.