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Miriam College is a premier women's college in the Philippines. Founded in 1924, Miriam College offers programs at the basic, tertiary, post-graduate and adult education levels.

The institution supports specialized centers engaged in curriculum development, research, community outreach and advocacy in the fields of social development, peace education, environmental studies and women’s empowerment.

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YouTuber, influencer Michelle Poler inspires students to face their fears

Miriam College (MC) opened 2018 with a talk like no other, featuring YouTuber, Fear Facer, and influencer Michelle Poler.

Known for her project 100 Days Without Fear and for the social movement Hello Fears, Poler gave a talk before 400 girls composed of middle school, high school, and higher education students from Miriam College and other partner schools to teach and inspire them how to face their fears and realize their full potential.

“Miriam College believes that Michelle Poler has a unique and beautiful story to tell that will surely resonate with our students, especially girls.  Not only is she young, but her energy is also infectious and we know that our students will listen well to what she has to say, and hopefully in the process be inspired to face their own fears — especially those relating to their peers, studies, and the future,” said Dr. Rosario O. Lapus, Miriam College President.

 

#100DaysWithoutFear

Titled Girls Be Brave! Poler taps into her personal experiences as a young girl who feared so many things growing up in Caracas, Venezuela, but had to deal with it as a student starting a Master's Degree in Branding at the School of Visual Arts in New York.  She shared how she overcame her own fears to live her life to the fullest.

Poler became popular on YouTube when she began her #100DaysWithoutFear school project wherein she had to face one fear a day for 100 days. She filmed herself on each challenge and posted them daily on her YouTube channel. She braved different kinds of fears from holding a tarantula and skydiving to posing nude for a drawing class and helping people in need.

“You tube can be extremely intimidating but it can also be a very powerful tool that can help you inspire or  teach something to someone from one end of the world to the other, thanks to YouTube that my project resonated with millions. On day 40, I wake up and realize that every website I follow is sharing my story –not only website including celebrities,” she said during her talk.

Her YouTube posts caught up with celebrities like Ashton Kutcher, Zooey Deschanel, Sofia Vergara and Lil Wayne who shared her story through their accounts. In a matter of days, Poler had over 4.5 million views in her YouTube channel.

Since then she has been invited to TedX, Facebook, Google, YouTube, Microsoft, and to schools and universities within and outside of the US, teaching audiences how to tap into their full potential in both their personal lives and their careers.

“You tube can be extremely intimidating but it can also be a very powerful tool that can help you inspire or  teach something to someone from one end of the world to the other, thanks to YouTube that my project resonated with millions. On day 40, I wake up and realize that every website I follow is sharing my story –not only website including celebrities,” she said during her talk.

Her YouTube posts caught up with celebrities like Ashton Kutcher, Zooey Deschanel, Sofia Vergara and Lil Wayne who shared her story through their accounts. In a matter of days, Poler had over 4.5 million views in her YouTube channel.

Since then she has been invited to TedX, Facebook, Google, YouTube, Microsoft, and to schools and universities within and outside of the US, teaching audiences how to tap into their full potential in both their personal lives and their careers.

 

Art and rewards of discomfort

In her talk, Poler expounded on the different categories of fear, one of them being cultural, wherein people fear not being able to meet society’s expectations.

“Society has its own set of rules and expectations so when they tell you ‘don’t do this, don’t write that, don’t say that’ it’s society making our personality fit to their standard. For me life started to feel like a checklist according to society’s expectations. Who am I checking these boxes for? I could be checking these boxes of what society is expecting of me or I could have the courage to make my own set of boxes and pursue those as well: Move to NY, become an entrepreneur, travel the world, and write a book.”

In her talk, Poler expounded on the different categories of fear, one of them being cultural, wherein people fear not being able to meet society’s expectations.

“Society has its own set of rules and expectations so when they tell you ‘don’t do this, don’t write that, don’t say that’ it’s society making our personality fit to their standard. For me life started to feel like a checklist according to society’s expectations. Who am I checking these boxes for? I could be checking these boxes of what society is expecting of me or I could have the courage to make my own set of boxes and pursue those as well: Move to NY, become an entrepreneur, travel the world, and write a book.”

She went on to tell the audience composed of mostly girls and young women to go for the scarier and harder choices as these as most likely choices that lead to one’s growth. “The growth choice is sometimes the scarier one. If you feel the fear you are probably on the right track; the more uncomfortable we feel, the bigger the reward,” she said

Towards the end of her talk, Poler challenged her audience by posing the question: What would you get uncomfortable for?

She initiates an answer by sharing what her experiences have taught her. “They say doubt kills our dreams than failure ever will. Am I afraid to fail, you bet I am but I am 100 % more terrified of not trying at all. I now see fear as an opportunity that can lead us to uncover our next big thing and that is the best that can happen.”

 

Girls, Be Brave! Campaign

Poler’s talk is part of the Miriam College’s “Girls Be Brave” campaign to encourage students, especially girls, to engage in subjects they tend to fear the most like Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. “We want to engage more girls in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math), and to build their confidence so they can be bold, brave future innovators and leaders,” adds Dr. Lapus.

Through Girls Be Brave!, the school will be implementing a series of activities that make the concept of personal courage more concrete (see attached for activities). The campaign is also supported by Project AGELESS or Advocacy for Girls’ Engagement in Leadership, Education, and Social Synergy initiated by Miriam College High School Class of 1992. The initiative emphasizes that in the 21st century, girls and young women have to take courage in threading unknown territories for women such as STEAM.

Miriam College’s STEAM program began as early as 2011 and the school has since continued to host and support innovative activities that engage its students, especially girls, in these areas to prepare them for these fields of the future.

The creation of the Miriam College-Henry Sy, Sr. Innovation Center in 2016, the Philippines’ first integrated makerspace, further strengthens this innovation thrust of the school. “The center allows students to articulate and address the sources of their fears by learning, discovering—and yes even making mistakes—through our center’s state-of-the-art laboratories,” said Dr. Edizon Fermin, Miriam College’s Director for Innovation Development.

Through Girls Be Brave!, the school asserts its mission of forming girls to become women leaders in service, especially as it continues to expand in the south through its five-year old Miriam College-Nuvali campus and soon, in Porac, Pampanga.

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