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Humans of BRAVE: Rachel Eleiott

Today's feature is Rachel Eleiott, Cromwell High School Social Studies teacher and BRAVE's new Service Learning Coordinator! Rachel played a large role in our very first international service learning trip to Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic. We are very thankful for all of the amazing work she put in and we cannot wait to see what else she has in store!

Meaghan talked with Rachel after our trip to the Dominican Republic about bravery in her personal life and in the context of her service learning experience. Read on to see what Rachel had to say! 

What do you believe it means to be BRAVE?

Um...I believe every morning when you wake up, all the choices you have in life -- I would say making the right choice is what makes you brave. Always putting your best foot forward and tapping into your potential every single day -- and also not worrying what other people feel or think about you.

What is the BRAVEst thing you have ever done?

The bravest thing that I ever had to do was love myself enough to know I could do anything, I could be anything, I could achieve anything for myself. I always had a tendency to let other people tell me what my worth was and it took me 28 years to realize that all I needed was within me.

What was the  moment that this manifested for you?

Traveling for me. But last summer when I decided to go by myself and teach English in a foreign country --  it taught me more about myself than any college education or any other life experience.  

How did you see BRAVEry exist among and within the humans you met in the Dominican Republic?

I mean it just comes down to choices and it seems like the people I met they choose to be happy, to do something in their community. They choose to open their homes and their hearts and their life experiences and that takes bravery because here (in the USA) people are so afraid to show their emotions or be vulnerable or you know connect to other people. And it just seemed there (in the DR) that bravery was in every fiber of who they were. Not to say that they had perfect lives at all but just the teachers and the children and people like Karina they made a choice and that was to be brave and to be themselves.

To learn more about Rachel, follow her blog here!

Meaghan's Message - Time Abroad!

If you're lucky enough to intern for BRAVE, it's likely that you know Meaghan likes (is obsessed with) Ed Sheeran's newest album. Skip ahead to the first time I watched the newest Meaghan's Message (totally not five minutes ago...), waiting to see which Ed Sheeran song she'd picked. My bet was on Galway Girl because she put that song on during conference prep (read: forced me to listen) for what seemed like 16 hours straight (and concurrently, it's the only one I know). I was wrong though, she chose the song Barcelona. I am not bitter at all. And that's totally not why I'm bringing up her luggage going missing (no worries she got it back!). 

This month, Meaghan talks about the importance of travel in her life. I know that everyone says they want to travel, but Meaghan actually makes it happen. A lot. It doesn't matter her current situation, she prioritizes traveling and so it comes to fruition. It's one of the things that makes Meaghan so cool. Sunglasses emoji. I hope y'all can make some time this summer to go somewhere, whether it be Barcelona, or a state away. 

So without further ado, here's the June edition of the super awesome, highly anticipated (by me, because I'd been living vicariously through the travel pics Meaghan uploaded to Google Photos. Thanks Meg that was not torture at all!!!)  Meaghan's Message!

Rewind: Spring Wrap Up

Hello brave humans!

With the closing of the university semester comes the close of BRAVE programming. Take a look at our rewind video featuring highlights from the 2016/2017 school year!

Want to stay in touch with BRAVE throughout the summer? We're still here! Subscribe to this blog up top, as well as our social media platforms (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat: @girlsarebrave) to stay connected and inspired throughout the break! 

Thank you all for your support!

Stay brave y'all,

Serena :)

Meaghan's Message - 30 Day Challenge

Hello beautiful brave humans!

Meaghan decided to make herself a 30 day challenge to create more balance in her life. This one is focused on 30 days of fun, because we don't often make time for fun. Sad face. Meaghan explains her reasoning behind this challenge pretty well in this video, so go watch it! Except the part where she says I can't count to 30. That is untrue. In fact, out of the 3 kinds of people in the world (those who can count and those who can't) I am the former. 

I've listed Meaghan's full list below the video, so check it out! Then go make your own 30 day challenge! Make sure to tag us @girlsarebrave and use the hashtag #BRAVE4Balance :) I'm making one! Here's a sneak peak:

#1 - Wipe the tire tracks off my face from Meaghan throwing me under the bus 

#2 - Buy some math flashcards

#4 - Cry


Totally kidding. I am salt-free. Like McDonald's.

That's it for today my friends!

Peace out,


Try a new food 

Attend free art/performance event 

Go for a walk 

Batting cages 

Don't check email for 24 hours 

Purchase something new 

Listen to new music 

Rediscover music you love 

Read for fun 

Road trip to another state

Penny flip driving 

Play basketball at the park

Sit out on the porch for sunset

Eat ice cream

Juggle a soccer ball 

Take 1 creative picture everyday 

Go to the beach

Get a library card 

Go to a book store and browse 

Laser tag 

Pet a dog 


Go see live music

Go to the movies 

Visit friends 


Stretch/ meditate 

Get a tattoo 

Go bowling 

Pay it forward 

Positive notes to the public


Humans of BRAVE: Rachel Tessler

Hello brave humans!

Today's Humans of BRAVE showcases an individual who is empowered by her choices by choosing to see the good throughout a struggle. How do you empower yourself through your choices?

Have a day friends :)


Rachel Tessler, the brave human on the right, pictured with our fab intern Lucia!

Rachel Tessler, the brave human on the right, pictured with our fab intern Lucia!

“It started when I was 4, I got bitten by a tick on my face and I was undiagnosed with Lyme for two years; had quiet seizures, not concentrating, really exhausted. At 6, it got really bad; I had spots on my face. I didn’t go to school full time. I missed many subjects. That’s why I still feel there are gaps in knowledge that I have. I couldn’t do sports, I couldn’t do what the other kids were doing. I couldn’t play at recess. As a kid, you don’t know what to do in order to work around that, especially if you don’t have the resources. That’s when I turned to theater at 9 years old. I was getting more entranced in all that and I found a group of people. As I got older, I realized that I can do the other things that other people can do. I can’t let being sick hold me back. I managed by just pushing through and asking for help when I needed it, I tried to find ways to show that I was a hard worker. I sought out what I needed to move forward. I always asked for help, I always tried really hard on assignments and my grades would go up and I would call people to get information. Also, seeking help from friends helped, especially in college. They helped me realize the potential I have to manage and lead. I didn’t think I would be where I am today. Personally, I didn’t think I would be at UConn or at a school like this. With my persistence and my ability to manage what limits me, I was able to do it. I still struggle, I still have tics, I’m still tired. But over time, I learned how to manage it and be the best I can be. I always used to think what would happen if I didn’t get sick. I constantly had that thought going through my head. I recently only stopped having that because I was really happy with where it led me. I don’t think I would have the same personality growing up the way I did. I like to think I am an empathetic person and I don’t think I’d be as empathetic if I hadn’t gone through it. It led me to theater and I’m super thankful. I was exposed to that because I couldn’t run and it led me to those people who are doing good in the world. I’m more exposed to good now because of what happened.”

BRAVE Spotlight: Deanna Saracino & La Clé

Hello there BRAVE folks! Today I'd like to highlight a super awesome company started by a super awesome human! La Clé is a company that makes products with the mission of look good, feel good, do good. I really love their refocus bands, so I reached out to the founder, Deanna, to talk about bravery and leadership and all that good BRAVE stuff :) 

1. What is your favorite quote?  Why? 


I love quotes and anything that touches a nerve when you read it. I'd have to say I gravitate towards quotes about failure and action most. 


My favorite is by Will Rogers: 


"Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there".


2. What is the story behind La Clé?


La Clé came out of a failure for me. A few years back, a start-up I was working on totally fell apart. I had surrounded myself with toxic people and wasn't in a good mindset. I had to remove everything that was toxic from my life and I was left with a choice. Give up and get depressed about it or refocus my time and energy into something good. That fun saying "Rock bottom is where I build my foundation" sums up pretty much what happened to me. I had always wanted to build a brand and develop a way to allow people to do more good and feel good. Building La Clé was a saving grace because it allowed my to gain back control of my life, helped me figure out what I want and reminded me what good old fashion hard work does. 


3. Define what bravery means to you. Can your provide an example from your work?


Bravery is all about your actions. It's about the risks you take and not being afraid to make decisions. Bravery is about making mistakes and making them fast. Learning how to adapt, learn and grow while you make decisions in motion. Even if it is the wrong decision. I always say...

a wrong decision is better than no decision. 


When I started La Clé I had no clue how to build my own business and what that actually meant. I learned as I went. I was constantly faced with 2 choices 1. give in to my fears and insecurities and or 2. keep pushing myself to figure it out as I went. 


4. Do you believe you’re a leader? Why or why not?


Heck ya! I love that I was blessed with a passionate, go getting, entrepreneurial spirit. It has served me well my whole life. A large part comes from all the years of playing soccer and being on teams and another part from my upbringing and always having to work hard for what I wanted. Nothing ever came super easy, but I found very early on, things came A LOT easier to me when I committed myself and worked hard for it. That is my solution to pretty much everything I want. Out work everyone else.  


5. What advice would you give young girls? How does La Clé embody this?


Learn what you love to do and invest yourself in that. Work hard. Out work others. Keep working until you find a way to get what you want. Road blocks? figure out how to get around it. When all your friends are sitting on the couch binge watching netflix or snap chatting for hours on end, don't do that. Instead, teach yourself new things. Take time and work on finding something you love. Invest in what you love and be the best you can be at it. If you work hard enough you can create whatever life you want for yourself.

BRAVE Leadership Conference 2017!

Hello brave humans! 

This past Sunday was our first ever BRAVE Leadership Conference. The whole event took months of planning, and years of ideas forming in Meaghan's brain before it came to life. I really want to make a joke about our Event Planning intern Lucia being flustered, but she handled everything so flawlessly that there's no joke to be found! A modern day tragedy in my life. She really is a rockstar, and the conference would not have happened without her so shall we all give her a round of applause? I'm expecting you do at least one power clap from your seat right now. Did you do it? Don't lie, I'll know...especially you dad because I'm looking right at you.

At the conference, we had a wide variety of AWESOME humans present and attend our conference (I am sooooo not biased) as well as a beautiful performance by UConn's own Rubyfruit. Check them out, their music puts my family's chorus of happy birthday to shame! Although, the bar is set pretty low for that one. 

The whole day was full of good vibes and thought provoking conversation, and I got to wear a butterfly headband, so honestly what more could you ask for? Oh I know, a fun video! That's what you could ask for. A group of us worked on a call to action video that we would like to share with you. We hope it keeps the good vibes rolling so even if you didn't attend our super mega awesome conference, you can join us in feeling inspired and empowered. Sound good? I mean honestly you don't have a choice, I've already attached it. I've also shared some of my favorite pictures (with commentary, of course) from the event down below! (Peep that headband. I major in fashion and cool.) If you'd like to view the entire album, here is our (brand new) Flickr page! Yay technology.

I'd like to leave you with a challenge my friends. Figure out your non-negotionables, and then live brave! Sounds so simple, right? If you'd like, you can share your experiences with us via the hashtag #liveBRAVE. Either way, take some time to recognize the ways in which you are already living brave, and additionally the new ways you can start being brave. For me, it's remembering to speak up, and then actually following through. I often find bravery in the small, every day actions. It is there for you too :)

That's it for today y'all! Stay brave!

Peace out,


The interns! What a cute bunch. Not biased.

The interns! What a cute bunch. Not biased.

Is this not an incredible picture? Love it.

Is this not an incredible picture? Love it.

Rubyfruit slaying us all with their talent. 10/10.

Rubyfruit slaying us all with their talent. 10/10.

Not many of you know this, but Meaghan is actually a professionally trained orchestra conductor! Look at that focus. Just kidding, she's just really into her speech. and it blew our minds, per usual.

Not many of you know this, but Meaghan is actually a professionally trained orchestra conductor! Look at that focus. Just kidding, she's just really into her speech. and it blew our minds, per usual.

RT :)

RT :)

The rockstar that is Lucia, belting out the national anthem before kickoff. Wait no, actually she is speaking lots of nice words. But I had you for a minute didn't I?

The rockstar that is Lucia, belting out the national anthem before kickoff. Wait no, actually she is speaking lots of nice words. But I had you for a minute didn't I?

Group huddle! Meaghan was opposed to the idea of swaying and yelling WHAT TEAM like they do in High School Musical. This is why she's in charge. 

Group huddle! Meaghan was opposed to the idea of swaying and yelling WHAT TEAM like they do in High School Musical. This is why she's in charge. 

Meaghan's Message - March 2017

Hello brave humans!

How are y'all doing? I hope you're just dandy. If not, may I recommend a short video to brighten your mood? And if you are dandy, definitely watch this video. It'll upgrade your mood from dandy to super dandy. I have now said the word dandy so many times, it no longer seems like a word. Let's move on.

Have you ever found yourself sitting at home, sweatpants on, drinking diet coke (such a Meaghan thing to do) and thinking "I wonder what Meaghan's favorite book is?" Well have no fear, this video is all about the bravest human we know :) A few interns and I asked some hard hitting questions, and we managed to have a little fun in the process. Okay, so a lot of fun...

We hope you find this video super grool. You know, like cool but you meant to say great at the same time. It's totally fetch. 


Peace out my friends,