Claira Chong 

Age: 17

School: Xavier College Preparatory 

Year: Junior

City: Phoenix




Reading, writing and arithmetic are all important – there’s no denying that. But Claira Chong saw that the everyday curriculum high school students received wasn’t providing the practical knowledge students really needed when they entered adulthood. 

Together with a friend, Chong founded EmpowHerX in 2010. The club for girls has monthly meetings on topics ranging from personal finance to self-defense, all covered by annual dues of $75.

“We realized that there was a pretty significant gap in practical knowledge, life knowledge,” said Chong, 17, a junior at Xavier College Preparatory. “We’re doing this totally independently. This is a community-wide organization, so we have a wide variety of members, girls from different schools. This is important information for our lives.”

Past sessions have offered guidance on college finances, understanding consumer credit and professional networking. Based on member feedback, the group also has expanded monthly topics to include cultural and societal topics.

“Most recently we spoke with a woman who emigrated to the United States when she was 15. She’s from Montenegro,” Chong said. “She talked to us about her experience getting adopted to the American culture.”

EmpowHerX currently has 45 members and accepts new members throughout the year. 

“There have been a lot of great things coming out of being able to start an organization from the ground up, having a dream and making it a reality,” Chong said. “Now we’re seeing the needs of our members and adapting to that.”

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