Lauren Fontana attended Regina Dominican, a Catholic High School located in Wilmette, Illinois. Lauren currently lives in Chicago and is a LCSW and Clinical Director at Urban Wellness.
Tell us a little about your experiences attending an all girls school. What did you love the most? What would you like others to know about this experience?
When I think about my experience at an all girl school I feel grateful for that time. I am grateful I had the opportunity to be myself in a learning environment and that I did not feel the pressure to act a certain way or look a certain way and was instead encouraged to be myself and share my views. I loved that I got to be apart of a community and that we had a shared experience of what it meant to attend an all girl high school. I loved that we were supported by our teachers and that we were encouraged to speak up and to stand up for what we believe in and I love that it made me be a woman who believes in empowerment and who can advocate for herself when needed. Attending an all girls school was an amazing experience and I am happy that I have the ability as a clinician who works with adolescent females to encourage them to advocate for themselves and to develop an understanding of the importance to use their voice in a powerful and meaningful way.
What is your greatest memory of attending your school?
My greatest memory of attending Regina Dominican High School would be attending our high school socials. Socials were small and causal dances that would occur throughout the year with other high schools (and yes… Boys were there!). I remember that at every social they would play Madonna’s ‘Like a Prayer’ and all the Regina girls would come together and sing and dance to the song. I still am reminded of that sense of community when I hear that song and am taken back to being in high school and feel proud that I was able to have that experience.
What would you say the biggest difference you see in yourself versus girls that did not attend an all girls school?
I remember sitting in my college orientation and listening to a student talk about campus rules and regulations and those they were addressing an issue of safety. I cannot quite recall what was said but it was something that did not sit well with me as it sounded, as the standards for the women on campus were different. To my parents surprise I shot my hand up and stood up and questioned this rule and began to explain how women and men should not have different standards and should have equal rights and challenged their thoughts. I remember sitting down and talking with my mom about how that was my all girl high school education and experience coming out and feeling proud. That was the beginning of understanding how my experience at an all girl high school would impact me and shape me to be the person I am today. I shorty learned I was not afraid to raise my hand in class (a class with boys too). I was not afraid to advocate for myself or to challenge thoughts or beliefs that seemed unfair or unjust. I learned that I did not feel the need to be someone I was not or that as girly as I am that I did not need to spend hours getting ready to enter a leaning environment. I realized that those around me who did not have the experiences of attending an all girl school were not as likely to speak up for themselves or not as likely to stand up for others. I recently spoke with a past teacher who stated ‘there is something really special and unique about learning and being able to make mistakes in front of your peers of the same sex and not in a co-Ed environment’ and I could not agree more and again could not be more grateful I had that experience.