Who’s that Kid? It’s Emily Raleigh, FCRH ‘16


Emily Raleigh, FCRH ‘16, keeps busy as the founder of a company that empowers women. (Courtesy of Emily Raleigh)


Emily Raleigh, FCRH ‘16,  keeps busy as the founder of a company that empowers women. (Courtesy of Emily Raleigh)
Emily Raleigh, FCRH ‘16, keeps busy as the founder of a company that empowers women. (Courtesy of Emily Raleigh)

An ever-busy sophomore with more on her plate than most could fathom, Emily Raleigh, FCRH ’16, is on her way to the top. In the midst of her bustling daily schedule, Emily gave me a minute to share some of her dreams, passions, inspirations and activities. An avid supporter of women’s empowerment, Emily is making waves and inspiring girls both young and old.

In fact, Emily has even made a career out of this. Beginning her senior year of high school at Monsignor Donovan High School in Toms River, N.J., Emily founded her own company and shaped her mission into what she hopes to have for a career. Emily is the founder and “Smart Starter” of The Smart Girls Group, whose mission is to be the “one stop shop for the next generation of superstar women,” and to “arm young women with the tools that they need to succeed in all facets of life on their own terms, all in a unique sisterhood environment.”

Her company does this by publishing a monthly online magazine entitled Smart Girl’s Guide, filled with articles ranging from profiles of inspirational women in history, smart ways to dress, and everyday tips for high school students and profiles of influential and everyday women. It also publishes articles in between issues and has campus chapters composed of over 400 girls across the United States and Europe in 48 states and 24 countries. Emily assures that her company’s top priority is the “sisterhood aspect, which is connecting girls across the globe, [which is] definitely my favorite part about it.”

Emily and her company have received national recognition and have been the recipients of numerous awards, including the 2013 Kenneth Cole Awareness Grant and 2014 Camp Campbell Competition, a competition for female entrepreneurs. She and her company also have been featured in Forbes magazine, The Huffington Post and on Fox News, among several others.

Emily has been central in organizing a conference regarding women’s empowerment to take place this July 9-10 at Fordham’s Lincoln Center campus with sponsors like Microsoft. Thirteen speakers are currently lined up, including designer Kenneth Cole and his daughter Amanda Cole, The New York Times executive editor, Jill Abramson, and editor-in-chief of More, Lesley Seymour.

In addition to her largest commitment with SGG, which she refers to as her full-time job, Emily is also a resident assistant in O’Hare Hall, on the executive board for Fordham’s Entrepreneurship Society and is on the regional board for Compass Fellowship. She is a marketing and communications and media management double major, minoring in visual arts.

Emily’s roots and family, she says, were a major influence on how successful she has become today. Emily comes from a small barrier island on the Jersey Shore called Long Beach Island. In addition to her passions of empowering and uniting girls, she sails competitively and yearns for the beach and water back home.

She discussed some major influences in her life, including her younger sister Sophie and a six year old girl named Yuanmong whom she met while on a mission trip in China. During her senior year, for a Christmas gift Emily wrote a book for her sister, a freshman in high school, in the form of a guide to surviving and succeeding in high school. However, Emily said, “I wanted to do something that would be more than just a book, something that was continuous… I made my [decision] to start The Smart Girls Group. And that’s how it all began!”

As for Yuanmong, she inspired Emily to develop The Smart Girls Group into something more than a hobby and turn it into a business and full out publication. “She came from nothing.” Emily said, “When she saw a Rubik’s Cube in my mission partner’s bag, she picked it up and solved it in less than five minutes. By the time we said our goodbyes…[she] knew how to count to 1,000 in English…and said to me, ‘I am a smart girl.’ It was in that moment that I knew Smart Girl’s Guide needed to do even more.” She knew that she needed a school that could give her the opportunities to successfully carry out her business dreams.

Emily described her first experience at Fordham as a surreal moment that made her appreciate New York and her new school. “I remember going to Times Square on the first Wednesday night at Fordham and that was when I realized how lucky I was to be in New York City and all of the opportunities that gave me for both my business and just for having fun.”

During her time at Fordham, Emily hopes to increase Fordham’s entrepreneurship community toward an equal 50-50 balance of men and women, as she feels it is mostly dominated by men. She dreams of having the ability upon graduation to employ herself and her magazine’s staff as a full-time career.

Emily said, “Hopefully two years from now we are in a place where I can do that. It already is a full-time job for me, and I couldn’t imagine it any other way.”

Emily could not imagine attending school anywhere but New York City. She is proud to call Fordham her school. “Since I was a little girl I wanted to be in New York City and now…it really is the greatest blessing and biggest dream come true. You know you love where you are when you find yourself saying ‘I can’t wait to go home,’ and you’re referring to college.”

From a simple dream to help guide her sister through high school to forming a full-fledged business and online magazine inspiring young women everywhere, Emily Raleigh has certainly come a long way and shows no signs of slowing down.

Robert Frerich is Assistant Copy Chief at The Fordham Ram.