In May, two incoming USC students were named among the 150 winners of the 2018 Coca-Cola scholarship program, an annual competition that selects students across the nation to receive a $20,000 college scholarship.
As recipients of the scholarship, freshmen Talie Cloud and Estephanie Garcia attend various events and make media appearances to inform the community of the Dear Future Community Challenge in Los Angeles, which encourages young adults to submit ideas that increase the number of women in public service careers.
As part of the campaign, Cloud and Garcia attended a Los Angeles City Hall meeting last week and shadowed two female councilmembers, Nury Martinez and Monica Rodriguez, to promote the challenge. Cloud, a neuroscience major, said she learned about the challenges female councilmembers face in a male-dominated field.
“Hearing their experiences of things they were able to accomplish as women, and as women of color specifically, was really enlightening and [understanding] the power dynamics even within their personal relationships and how that’s shifted as a result of their service,” Cloud said.
Until Oct. 15, any person between 18 to 24 years old in Los Angeles can submit ideas for the challenge online, according to Carlos Illingworth, director of public affairs and communications for Coca-Cola North America. There are several other Dear Future Challenges held in different cities, as well as a national competition.
After reviewing the submissions, Coca-Cola will choose 17 winners and give $30,000 to local nonprofits that will work with the winners to make their ideas realities, Illingworth said.
Illingworth also spoke about why Coca-Cola created the Dear Future Community Challenge.
“We’re very inspired by young adults and their energy and optimism and potential to give back and improve their communities,” Illingworth said. “So the goal of this challenge is to do just that -— to improve the local communities across the country and inspire young people to come up with solutions to address pressing issues, like getting women more involved in public service.”
Garcia, an environmental studies major, said the Dear Future Community Challenge in Los Angeles will bring more attention to gender gaps and disparities in fields like public service.
“As we’ve been seeing politically, women have always been underrepresented,” Garcia said. “I think it’s important to have that perspective and have that voice … in the system so that [women] can bring in their experiences to change what they’ve seen that other men haven’t.”
Cloud said she also sees the importance of having more women in public service careers to represent female perspectives on issues like abortion and the wage gap. These women can also inspire the next generation of girls to enter male-dominated fields like the public service sector, Cloud explained.
“Ideally in society or in public power you want to see equal advantages for everyone to have access to the public sector and public leadership,” Cloud said. “It’s very important for girls growing up to have access to these role models and to see that it is a possibility for women.”