Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Glamour profiles Morehead-Cain scholar

You expect to see Hollywood's elite starlets and the catwalk's newest supermodels in Glamour magazine.

But this month, it was Charlotte's own Amber Koonce who made her way onto those glossy pages. Koonce, who went to Providence and is now a 21-year-old senior at UNC Chapel Hill, was named one of Glamour's Top 10 College Women because of her success in academics and her charitable work in the community.

Koonce is a double major in public policy and Afro-American studies, as well as a Morehead-Cain scholar. This summer she participated in Princeton University’s public policy and international affairs junior summer institute. When she graduates, she hopes to work for UNICEF or Amnesty International.

One of her greater contributions to those in need is her work with BeautyGap, a charity she founded after a trip to Ghana in 2009. Her mission: To provide dolls of color to girls of color, in hopes of increasing self-love and self-awareness. The program aims to promote a standard of beauty that doesn't rely on Western culture ideals.

"While I was in Ghana, I saw that the dolls that were most readily accessible to the young girls throughout the country looked nothing like them and had blond hair with blue eyes," Koonce said. "I began to take pictures each time I saw a girl with a white doll to document this phenomenon."

Koonce came back to the United States and formed her charity. She said she came up with the organization's name after she learned about the concept of beauty in Africa.

"One of my African studies professors, and mentor, Dr. Waithera, taught me that throughout Africa the standard of beauty is (measured by) the gap between a woman’s front teeth," Koonce said. "(It) is known as the “beauty gap.'"

She said she learned African women are sometimes pressured by American dentists to close the gap between their teeth. Through her charity, Koonce said she hopes to promote self-love.

Most of the BeautyGap dolls are delivered to young girls in Ghanaian orphanages, while some dolls have been collected through a UNC Chapel Hill organization and delivered to a Kenyan orphanage, she said.

Koonce is currently collecting dolls for the holiday season. Donations can be made by contacting BeautyGap online.

Doll donations can be shipped to:
BeautyGap, Inc.
P.O. Box 470744
Charlotte, N.C., 28247

To read Koonce's advice to Young Achievers in the Charlotte area, visit the Young Achievers page online.


Mike Whitehead said...

More stories on young people like this! There are so many incredible teenagers doing amazing things. Put articles like this on front page. Encourage young adults to step out like this.

Send dolls.

Send her congratulations.

Way to go Amber!
Mike Whitehead