The Step Up Sisterhood

Helping young women see their endless possibilities.

It’s officially Women’s History Month! And we’re celebrating the next generation of barrier-breaking women by highlighting Step Up alumna, Nicolle Echeverria, to learn more about her journey to become a lawyer against all odds. Read on to hear her story and how Step Up is working to inspire young girls to achieve their dreams.

Picture of Nicholle E. at a Step Up event

When Nicolle Echeverria was very young, she was inspired by a novella where the protagonist was training to be a lawyer. Although this novella character faced discrimination because of her culture and where she grew up, she stopped at nothing to achieve her goal of becoming a lawyer.

Seeing this kind of determined woman sparked something in Echeverria. While she had considered being a lawyer, she wasn’t 100% sure if it was the path she wanted to take — but the novella made her realize that if she set her mind to it, she could do anything she wanted in life. 

Echeverria’s story is one of many young women and girls who are a part of Step Up (no, not the 2006 dance film). Step Up is a nonprofit organization that works with girls and gender-expansive teens who may be facing systemic barriers and strives to unlock their potential by empowering them to become confident, career-focused, and ready to join the next generation of leaders.

Echeverria was first introduced to Step Up in high school. “After the first meeting, I wasn’t sure if Step Up was for me because I knew what I wanted to do — study law, go into law, own my own law firm, or work for the government,” Echeverria says.

Nicholle E. with her Step Up sisters

But other opportunities started to come through the program: Field trips to different conferences and different industries, exposing her to other opportunities, and meet-ups in downtown LA where they would talk about resume and cover letter writing to help prepare for internships. 

Over time, she found her place in the program and reflects on it with an emotional tenor in her voice and a happy tear in her eye: “In almost every Step Up meeting, you meet these women who care about you and want to help you. It’s amazing to have a support system. I know I can always count on them. And after every meeting, you’re always inspired. Seeing them help us makes me want to help others well.”

Today, Echeverria is officially considered a Step Up alumna, but she’s also a junior at Cal State Long Beach where she’s pursuing a major in political science and a minor in legal studies. She’s exploring the different types of law, and currently, Criminal Law is sparking her interest. 

Throughout her college experience, she’s maintained her relationship with Step Up facilitators. “Many of us are first-generation college students,” she says. “And we don’t necessarily know how to navigate college. Step Up still invites me to workshops and offers networking opportunities. They also invited me to do a panel with girls from other states. This really helped me realize that I’m not alone.” 

The sisterhood that Step Up has created is a strong one with lasting bonds, and with alumna like Echeverria, it’s only bound to grow stronger from here.

AURA is proud to be a partner of Step Up, contributing $10,000 annually to support young women like Nicolle Echeverria and to help them see the world as one with endless possibilities.