Isha Uppalapati on how it is never too early to start making a difference
Non-profit founder and author Isha Uppalapati is proof that you are never too young to make a difference in your community. A senior in high school from Marietta, Georgia, Isha is on a mission to inspire young minds to become successful leaders. Her nonprofit, A Girl's Frontier, provides opportunities for young girls to nurture their entrepreneurial tendencies. Focusing on education, mentorship and outreach, Isha hopes to provide aid to girls who do not otherwise have access to the financial resources or connections to succeed.
In addition to her business endeavors, Isha recently released her first book, Her Toolbox: Learning to be a Female Leader with Advice from Women in Power. This book, which includes actionable advice and insights, provides young women readers with a blueprint for making their way in the world.
When Girls' Life caught up with Isha, the teen author and non-profit founder opened up about her greatest inspirations, her plans for the future and how other girls can create positive change in their communities.
GL: What inspired you to create a nonprofit?
Isha: Since I was young I have been interested in creating things. My dad and I would often spend weekends brainstorming invention ideas. There were times when my sister and I would decide to start little companies—specifically car washes, lemonade stands and bake sales—and we would *always* strategize the business components of these companies. We would even make websites.
I have been so blessed to have incredibly supportive parents throughout this process. I had so many opportunities throughout my childhood and I just want to give opportunities to other girls who also have great ideas. That is really the reason I started A Girl's Frontier—and I am so impressed by all of the girls I have met through it so far.
GL: How do you hope A Girl's Frontier makes a difference?
Isha: We have a few different programs right now. Because of the pandemic, there are a lot of girls doing online school with limited access to educational resources. We have hosted book drives to help young girls have access to education throughout the year. We have also hosted iPad drives to donate iPads to dedicated young girls who may not have access to resources for online school. We also help sponsor education for girls around the world—including a group through Casa de Abby. This group of girls, who vary in age, are based in Honduras and are the absolute sweetest girls. A Girl's Frontier also has a mentorship matching program where we connect young girls with female mentors to help guide them.
GL: Tell us more about your book "Her Toolbox: Learning to be a Female Leader with Advice from Women in Power."
Isha: The point of "Her Toolbox" was to share the incredible advice that I have gotten from my mentors and other women leaders that I have spoken with. The main thing I want young girls to get from the book is that they are capable of doing anything they want—regardless of the obstacles standing in their way. If they treat these obstacles more like challenges, they will be able to overcome anything to become whatever they want to be. It just takes hard work!
GET TO KNOW ISHA:
All-time favorite movie: Mulan. Talk about female empowerment.
Snack she always craves: Cheese...it's the best.
Song that brightens her day: "Power" by Kanye West. It gets me moving.
Her happy place: The park! It has the best trees for hammocking.
GL: What was it like to write a book as a high schooler?
Isha: I really enjoyed it! In school I had never been a big writing or English person—I was always into math. I honestly enjoyed writing this book, though. It was amazing to talk to women leaders and hear about what they have accomplished and the obstacles they have overcome. I met so many incredible people along the way. Their advice has been so helpful for me and I really hope that it is helpful to whoever reads the book. If there is one thing girls should take away from the book its that they can accomplish anything they put their minds to—no matter what challenges or obstacles are in their way. I would definitely be interested in writing more books in the future!
GL: What is your advice for other girls who want to make a difference in their community?
Isha: Just do it! Even making the smallest difference is a step and can have the biggest impact—even if you just help one person or one community. Find an idea that you are so passionate about that you will never lose that passion. Make sure it is something that fuels you for as long as you are pursuing it. Don't be scared of failing. Don't be scared of making mistakes. Don't be scared that what you're doing is not making an impact—if you put your heart into it, it will.
GL: Do you have any big plans for the future?
Isha: I'm a senior in high school so I'm applying to college right now. I'm very interested in continuing what I have been doing wherever I wind up. A Girl's Frontier has recieved a lot of support and I am hopeful that we will continue to see that support grow. What I'm doing with A Girl's Frontier isn't just in my community or state—it is applicable to anywhere in the world. Wherever I wind up I know there will be a niche for me to make a difference and I am going to carry that with me wherever I go.
Parts of this interview have been edited and condensed for clarity.