Finding a place to fit in can be a challenging experience for many, so seniors Amaya Garrett and Micha’la Hood co-founded the organization, The Butterfly Effect, to institute a space designed to empower women.
After meeting through a mutual friend their freshman year at the University of Kentucky, Garrett and Hood, The Butterfly Effect president and vice president, respectively, formed a friendship which led to the creation of an organization that would not only impact other young women but themselves as well.
The Butterfly Effect is a women’s empowerment and professional development organization which strives to create a safe space for all women of all identities on the UK’s campus, Garrett said.
As freshmen on campus, the co-founders did not feel involved in campus culture, even after going to numerous meetings for other organizations. This inspired them to start their own club that works toward the inclusion of all women.
“Part of The Butterfly Effect is being open to all, which is something we take very seriously,” Hood said. “We just felt that it was very important to build a safe space for all women, not just a specific race or specific major.”
The organization holds discussions every Tuesday night that focus on personal and professional development topics. “We want our members to talk and feel comfortable enough to speak their opinions,” Garrett said.
These meetings include activities that go along with the topics to engage members in the discussion. In addition to Tuesday meetings, they also hold Saturday bonding events. On top of that, the organization features a mentorship program tailored to middle and high schoolers.
Hood, a Chicago native and broadcast journalism major, said these mentorships are meant to build a community and create role models for young women who are the future of UK.
The pair came up with a name that truly reflects what they represent while bouncing off ideas of what to call their organization in a drive-thru.
Garrett, a public health major and Louisville native, said she and Hood always knew they wanted the name to have something to do with a butterfly. They wanted it to reflect how college students grow and spread their wings while entering the real world.
After starting The Butterfly Effect in fall 2020, the organization faced obstacles due to COVID-19, especially when it came to partnering with schools. “A lot of schools were not even entertaining the idea of mentors coming to the schools,” Garrett said.
Despite these tribulations, the organization secured its foundation and continues to expand across Lexington. The Butterfly Effect currently works with Bryan Station Middle School, Frederick Douglass High School and Henry Clay High School.
“I feel like we have a lot of opportunities in Lexington to continue to be role models, not only at UK but with the younger generation,” Hood said.
While in the process of building their organization, Garrett and Hood said they have been affected as well.
“They [the students] have allowed me to see a different perspective of life,” Garrett said. “They just really impact me by allowing me to see more to life than what I have already seen.”
Through their mentoring and leadership, the founders realize the importance of having a support system in the community.
“Outside of us just being an organization, we’re a sisterhood,” Hood said. “I feel like the support that I’ve gotten from the community is something that has really kept me focused and kept me feeling supported here at UK.”