All posts by Sock Robot

Virginia Krakowiak

Cool Girl Virginia Krakowiak 911 Dispatcher and Animal RescuerName: Virginia Krakowiak
Age: 37
Location: (Live) Camas, WA & (Work) Portland, OR
Occupation: 911 Dispatcher

While Virginia Krakowiak may not wear a cape or a mask, this 911 dispatcher and animal rescuer certainly saves the day. Between answering emergency calls and founding the pilot project On-Call Community Rescue for Animals, Virginia spends her time aiding humans and critters alike.

The path to becoming an emergency phone operator originally came about through hard labor…literally. In her twenties, Virginia worked as a farmhand, carpenter, and bartender.

“I wanted a little more job security, higher pay, and most importantly – health insurance.  I come from a family of paramedics, firefighters, and nurses and when I saw the job posting it just seemed to make sense,” she explains.

The pedigree and her perseverance paid off, although she’s the first to tell you that it isn’t easy.

“I remember a ten-minute call where I gave CPR instructions to a man who came upon a multi-fatality rollover accident. He ran directly to the youngest and most traumatic of the patients and for 10 minutes did everything he could to save the life of a stranger, an 8-year-old girl. When paramedics arrived, they took over for him we said our humble goodbye. I then immediately took a 911 call from a woman who wanted police to do something because a particular grocery store was no longer accepting checks,” Virginia says. “I always think I’ve really heard it all, and I’m often reminded that I have not.”

Cool Girl Virginia Krakowiak with rescued ducks.The job requires putting her emotions to the side, and adapting from call to call. Over time at her job that she began to notice the need for a specific type of emergency response: animals in peril. It was from these animal-related calls that Virginia came up with: On-Call Community Rescue for Animals, or OCCRA. Virginia is partnering with several agencies and bureaus to develop this group that will dispatch rescue when the calls involve injured, lost, or otherwise jeopardized creatures. (Keep an eye out here for updates!)

“Basically, I wanted to help these agencies fill those gaps with a group of trained volunteers who would be available at all hours to respond to the calls that are left with no response,” she explains.

Butters the duck in his cast.And when it comes to saving animals, Virginia’s pal Butters can attest to her talent. Butters and his brother are ducklings who found their way to her from a local feed store. Butters had been beat up by other ducklings, and his neck was weak and his leg was disfigured. She didn’t think he’d last longer than a week…but, with her care, Butters began to thrive. After six months, two casts, and loads of physical therapy, Butters is now a year old and thriving. He spends his days trying to jump on Virginia’s goats, and nibbling on all kinds of goodies like worms with her chickens.

Cool Girl Virginia Krakowiak's Goat MangerAlthough her days are long and action-packed, Virginia is able to share her experiences with her Harbor Pilot Firefighter boyfriend. When she’s not working as an animal savior or 911 dispatcher, Virginia is tending to her many animals and their abodes. She’s currently trying to adopt a sheep from a local sanctuary, and adding siding to the goats’ manger.

Virginia’s biggest goal, outside of starting her non-profit OCCRA, is to focus on her work with Oregon Humane Society Technical Animal Rescue. As part of the OHSTAR team, she and other qualified members respond to high-angle rope rescue calls in Oregon and Southern Washington.

Cool Girl Virginia Krakowiak High Angle Rescue

And what advice does she have to other young women looking to make their mark on the world?

“Be kind, be loving, treat people with respect and patience….try and find a way to slow down, breathe, and practice kindness.”

Words to live by! For all of her work helping animals and people, and for her tenacious dedication to bringing assistance resources to her community, we think Virginia Krakowiak is one very Cool Girl!

Violet Kilmurray

Cool Girl Violet KilmurrayName: Violet Kilmurray
Age: 17
Location: Wisconsin
Occupation: Student, Camp Staff, Women’s March Wisconsin State Co-Chair

“Hate only fuels more hate, but love can always conquer,” Wisconsin high-school student Violet Kilmurray declares. This young activist, social justice warrior, and Girl Scout is not only drawing attention to inequities that affect marginalized groups, she is also the seventeen year old co-chair for Women’s March Wisconsin.

Violet has been dabbling in activism throughout her childhood. “My family taught me to present myself to the world in a way that I was proud of,” she explains.

Being a Girl Scout since the age of five, she has been aware that girls add a unique and unparalleled skill set and perspective, and that, if someone could benefit from having an ally, it’s a privilege for her to help give them a voice.

“Girl Scouts taught me that it is okay to ask for help, but it is good to be independent,” she says. “It also showed me many strong female role models, and taught me that women and girls can do anything that men and boys can.”

Not being content to simply be a Scout, Violet began attending protests before becoming a teenager.

CoolGirl Violet Kilmurray Wisconsin Women's March Logo

“The first protest that I attended was in Madison, Wisconsin at age ten or eleven,”she remembers. “Scott Walker, the Wisconsin Governor, was passing bills that took away some of the unionization rights for many workers in the state, and especially targeted teachers. My mom is a Special Education teacher, so she and my grandma took me and my younger brother down to our state capitol to protest. That was really inspirational for me because I saw all of these people coming together and standing up for what they believed.”

Violet’s big break into activism has been this past year with Women’s March and Women’s March Wisconsin. After hearing about the Women’s March on Facebook, she decided to attend. On January 21st, 2017, Violet, her mother, and one of her best-friends attended the march in Minneapolis.

“The march was amazing,” Violet remembers. “I felt inspired and empowered. This was something bigger than me, and I was proud to be a small part of it.”

CoolGirl Violet Reclaiming Our TimeAfter the march, she kept up with the movement on Facebook. She wore red in solidarity on the Day Without a Woman, and supported the other events that took place over the spring and summer. In late August, Violet began to see posts about the Women’s Convention.

“From the moment that I heard that Women’s March was hosting a convention in Detroit, Michigan I had my mind made up that I was going,” she says.

At the Women’s Convention, Violet saw the national Women’s March Co-Chairs in person and was able to hear them speak. She witnessed legends like Maxine Waters sharing encouraging and motivating ideas. And it was there, at the Women’s Convention, that Violet decided to break into the state caucuses.

“The point of these caucuses was to get together with our states’ chapter leaders and talk about events that the states had done throughout the year and where to go from there. When the fifteen of us from Wisconsin got together we were told that we didn’t have any official state chapter. So we decided to start one,” she recalls.

Violet and Co-Chair
Violet and Co-Chair

Her caucus planned their Inaugural Assembly for the weekend of November 17th in Wisconsin Dells. In the few weeks that her group had between the Convention and the Inaugural Assembly, Violet, her co-chair, and several other members, headed the planning of the Assembly. Today she remains the co-chair of the official state chapter of Wisconsin.

As a young woman of color, Violet works to change the systematic disenfranchisement that affects many underrepresented groups. She actively strives to bring attention to issues such as gerrymandering and voter suppression.

This coming year, chapters of the Women’s March are organizing a Power to the Polls campaign that will help register marginalized voters and rally those voters who are registered to show up and vote.

“In 2018 elections we want to win back the government so that it is truly for the people,” Violet says.

 

CoolGirl Violet Kilmurray speaking to a crowd.

After she finishes high-school, Violet is looking to travel, do more social justice work, and eventually get into teaching. So what advice does this brilliant young woman have to share with other growing girls?

“Be fiercely and unapologetically you, and let your light shine. It’s okay to be independent, it’s okay to not always be perfect, and it’s okay to sometimes be bossy and get things done. Love yourself, and others around you, and show your love to the world.”

For her relentless pursuit of change, equality, and justice, we think Violet Kilmurray is one Cool Girl!

Riley Silverman

Riley Silverman HeadshotName: Riley Silverman
Age: 36
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Occupation: Comedian/Writer

Riley Silverman is hilarious. This writer and comedienne extraordinaire has been slaying stand-up for over a decade, and making audiences laugh, ponder, and get inspired through her wordsmithing gigs and outspokenness.

Growing up in an Ohio suburb, Riley wanted to be an inventor, generally speaking. “I just wanted to [be] someone who could think of impossible ideas that could then be a reality. Like time machines and stuff like that,” she says. “Once I learned how hard science actually was, I shifted gears toward performing and writing, and never really left that.”

By the young age of nineteen, Riley was hitting the open mic scene. “I wasn’t even sure I’d be allowed into the club because they had a 21+ policy for customers,” she recalls. “It was my dream for most of my childhood, to be a comedian, so it was just kind of a thing I knew I had to do.”

Riley Silverman Stand-up Comic and WriterAfter years of making a name for herself as an active comic, she moved to Los Angeles to pursue her goals. She’s been relentless, releasing a comedy album, Intimate Apparel, writing for a MaxFun podcast, and even being featured on a show that presented the diverse range of female comics living in LA.

After being an avid listener to MaxFun podcasts, and even getting guest appearances on some of their shows, she had the opportunity to apply for a writing job at International Waters, a show of their’s that is a UK vs US comedy panel. She got the job, and one year later was promoted to head writer. Every month Riley writes two shows alongside a British writer. “Mostly it’s a lot of notes to each other over email and in Google Drive due to the time difference,” she explains.

All of this isn’t to say that the life of a star has been all puppies, kittens, and rainbows for Riley. She still fights against transphobia, and the pervasive closed-mindedness of some fellow citizens of the Earth. “I still struggle every day with people not seeing me for who I am and it’s hard not to internalize that over time.”

But, not one to battle silently, Riley puts money where her mouth is. Whenever she gets a chance to be a part of a benefit show or a project where she gets to select a charity, she picks Trans Lifeline.

“I managed to raise over four thousand dollars for them last summer the day that Donald Trump announced his plans to ban trans service members for the military,” she says. “I was just angry and feeling helpless and I figured a lot of other folks were too, so I just was like “Well this is the thing I can do today.”’

When she’s not hitting the stage with her stand-up, writing for International Waters, SYFY Fangrrls, or any other of her numerous projects, she’s stepping out of the TARDIS. “I got pretty into cosplaying the last several years, especially for Doctor Who,” she says. “I’m slowly working on making a female version of every previous Doctor for cons and stuff, but since they also cast Jodie Whittaker as the next Doctor, I’m shifting gears just a bit and working on nailing her outfit as close to screen as I can.”

So what does this wordsmithing, time-traveling comedy champion have to advise other young people wrestling with their authentic identity or trying to climb the ladder from a creative foothold?

“I think very few things in life are forever, even when they seem like it, for better or for worse. Know that nothing bad has to last, you can find ways to get out of bad situations, but also know to appreciate the good stuff while you have it and not take it for granted either.”

Some great advice from Riley Silverman, who we think is a very Cool Girl!

100 Cool Girls

Since we initiated our Cool Girl movement in 2009 we’ve featured scientists, athletes, artists, entrepreneurs, hopers, dreamers, and doers. We’ve had the pleasure to meet and get to know a lot of amazing women of all ages doing amazing things. And as of December 2017, we hit 100 Cool Girls!

But, who is a Cool Girl? A Cool Girl is someone who defends awesome: an everyday superhero! Someone who exudes positivity, and leads by example. Cool Girls make a difference in their communities and the world, challenge the norm, and aren’t afraid to be themselves.

We’d like to take this momentous occasion to highlight some individuals who have made a lasting impression. Each and every Cool Girl is inspiring, but if we included them all this post would be, well, 100 Cool Girls long. So, please use this as a teaser of truly extraordinary women and then take a look through the whole blog.

Know some inspirational women yourself? Nominate them to be a Cool Girl. They may get featured here, get some cool socks, and might also get some support for a project or charity of their choice.

If you just want to give a shout out to a really awesome woman in your life, you can also leave a comment.

Graphic Novelist and Cool Girl Lucy KnisleyLucy Knisley
Graphic novel artist & author
Featured 2016

Lucy has been drawing since she was a kid, publishing comics since she was 19, and published her first graphic novel when she was 21! A lot of her work is autobiographical including growing up with her chef mom (Relish), jet-setting around the world (Age of License), and her work in progress about becoming a parent (Kid Gloves). Read more.

“Other girls and women in cool professions are the best and greatest resource you can possibly imagine. Hold up your fellow lady, and your fellow lady will hold you up!” -Lucy Knisley, Cool Girl

Professional Fighter, Writer, Teacher and Cool Girl Roxanne ModafferiRoxanne Modafferi
Professional Fighter, Writer, Teacher
Featured 2014

Roxanne started practicing Tae Kwon Do in grade school after watching Power Rangers and trained hard to make it onto The Ultimate Fighter 18! She’s triumphed over injuries and ill-timed food poisoning to not only win fights, but teach and write (Memoirs of a Happy Warrior). Read more.

“I was greatly influence by TV superheros who always did the right thing no matter how troublesome, and saved people.” -Roxanne Modaferri, Cool Girl

Irene Gabashvili
Founder of Aurametrix, Inc
Featured 2012

Irene realized there was a serious need for people to be able to alleviate symptoms for certain chronic ailments and conditions on their own. She developed Aurametrix which is like a digital nurse that looks at all of the different details that can contribute to a person’s symptoms in order to figure out what parts of their life are making them feel better or worse. Read more.

“Believe in yourself, dream and aim high. Don’t be afraid to ask successful people for advice.” -Irene Gabashvili, Cool Girl

Vice President of Tri-North Buidlers, Inc and Cool Girl Anna SternAnna Stern
Vice President of Tri-North Buidlers, Inc
Featured 2012

Anna is Vice President of one of the largest construction companies in the country. Not only is she a powerful figure in a male-dominated industry, she helps host events like Kids Building Wisconsin, which bring attention and support for the construction workforce she oversees. She also supports events for Women Building Wisconsin, an organization that helps connect women within the construction industry and find newer members mentors. Read more.

“I would say the best advice would be to find a good mentor. I’ve been blessed to have great mentors throughout my career and have benefited from their guidance, experience, and willingness to stand up for me.” -Anna Stern, Cool Girl

Artist, Activist and Cool Girl Lindsay AmerLindsay Amer
Artist, Activist
Featured 2017

Lindsay created her YouTube channel Queer Kid Stuff to bridge the gap in theater and education for LGBTQ+ kids. Lindsay creates fun, easily accessible videos made for children featuring inclusive, queer storylines. She powers through online harassment to push for “a kinder and more equal future.” She does have a lot of supportive fans, though, growing every day! Read more.

“If you love it, do it and be it. Don’t listen to what other people want you to do, or think, or say, or be. Listen to yourself and your wants and needs and just do you. You’ll be so much happier for it.” -Lindsay Amer, Cool Girl

BMX Champion Payton and Cool Girl "P-Nut!" RidenourPayton “P-Nut!” Ridenour
Being a kid!
Featured 2012

Payton has been riding since she was 5 and started competing in BMX at a high level when she was 7 and even qualified for the World Championships. She’s traveled all over the United States racing and making a name for herself. She advises other girls interested in the sport: (Read more.)

“They should know that this is an aggressive sport. You need to dress for the crash and not for the ride. But most of all, you need to keep it fun.” -Payton Ridenour, Cool Girl

Co-Founder Petal and Cool Girl Julie WagneJulie Wagne
Co-Founder Petal
Featured 2016

Julie co-founded Petal, which fosters a partnership between artists, designers, and weavers in West Africa and San Francisco. She and her partner Ibrahima are committed to providing resources to tribal villages and communities, to exceeding fair wages, giving security to families, and protecting the cultural heritage of the Fulani people that inspires their textile creations. All this while helping provide education for children in West Africa. (Read more.)

“If you want to do something, do it. Believe in yourself and keep going!” -Julie Wagne, Cool Girl

Writer, Developer, Activist, Founder and Cool Girl Sharon LinSharon Lin
Writer, Developer, Activist, Founder
Featured in 2016

Sharon founded two non-profits to educate girls about technology, has written for publications including Huffington Post, and has started hackathons to spark creative development across communities and industries…all this before she graduated High School. Sharon wasn’t done inspiring other students to pursue computer science, so she also founded BitxBit Camp, which partners middle schoolers with older mentors and opportunities to develop projects. (Read more.)

“Never lose hope of the goals you have, and never let anyone else talk you out of them by saying you’re not good enough, or that you’re not meant for this. Seek out mentors if you can, or find older girls who you admire, and befriend them.” -Sharon Lin, Cool Girl

Biology Lecturer and Cool Girl Joan ManasterJoan Manaster
Biology Lecturer
Featured 2010

Ever wanted to see Gummi Bears get liquefied by sound waves? This Cool Girl has you covered. Joan works as a lecturer for students studying for their Masters of Science in Teaching Biology, but she wants to reach as many people as possible when it comes to the wonders of science. She thinks it’s especially important that women and girls see science as exciting and are able to see more women in STEM roles. She’s fueling this push with her website and Twitter. (Read more.)

“I find myself with a strong desire to have more women in science be seen and heard, as I think this could really influence young ladies. I hope to accomplish this by creating something of an Internet ‘science channel’ featuring video segments that highlight women in science, and to challenge more of them to be visible in this realm.” -Joan Manaster, Cool Girl

Polished Girlz Founder and Cool Girl Alanna WallAlanna Wall
Polished Girlz Founder
Featured 2015

Alanna founded Polished Girlz to bring nail parties to those who couldn’t treat themselves to a nail salon. This non-profit visits those hospitalized due to illness or those with special needs who might not be able to paint their own nails and does it for them! While bringing them a little color and company, it also teaches the importance of frequent hand-washing to reduce infection transmission and the potential for resulting hospital visits. (Read more.)

“For girls facing any challenges, I would like to tell them that they are strong and brave and that I am honored to be able to make you smile even if it is just a little while.” -Alanna Wall, Cool Girl

Megan C. Valentine-Shafer

Name: Megan C. Valentine-Shafer
Age: 25
Location: Chicopee, MA
Occupation: Licensed Pharmacist, Recent Graduate and currently Job Hunting.

Chicopee, Massachusetts native Megan Valentine-Shafer has always been creative and compassionate. As a child, her mothers fostered her imagination. One of her moms in particular crafted and included her daughter in her creative pursuits.

“Some of my favorite gifts and experiences with her involve either something she made, or something that I helped her make, including things like a wonderfully hand-made dice bag from my table top games, and a quilt made out of my old band t-shirts,” Megan recalls.

As a student, Megan became intrigued by the idea of assisting others, especially in the medical field. But once she figured that out, she also realized her peeves.

“Part way through high school, I found that I really wanted to help people, and that I was interested in going into medicine of some kind. An issue arose, though, when I discovered just how squeamish I was,” she explains. “This lead to me realizing that most of the “well known” medical professions weren’t for me, because I couldn’t handle seeing the sight of viscera.”

But this feisty student didn’t let her dream get discarded. In her junior year, her chemistry teacher also worked as a pharmacist. “It was at that point I realized I had been overlooking a major part of medicine. It was like the angels sang out in an immaculate chorus, that “This is it! This is what I was meant to be! I can help people, and not feel sick to my stomach!”’

Recently Megan graduated school and became a licensed pharmacist, but in spite of the image of a white coat and a smile, Megan’s other identities get a chance to come out and play when she partakes in one of her favorite hobbies: cosplay!

“The summer before I started college, and I went to my first nerd convention, Connecticon. At this point in my life, I hadn’t realized cosplay was an actual thing people did, for fun, and I fell in love with it the moment I stepped through the doors.”

Seven years later, Megan has been cosplaying at almost every con she’s attended, dressing up as characters such as Theresa from the “Fable” video game series, Tsukimi Kurashita from “Princess Jellyfish,” Chiaki Nanami from “DanganRonpa 2,” a blue-team Engineer from “Team Fortress 2,” and the dessert witch “Charlotte” from the series “Puella Magi Madoka Magica.”

Although Megan is currently job hunting in an area that is competitive, and her resources are limited due to this as well as her student loans, she remains optimistic. She’s already writing a list of “to do” cosplay characters for when her financial situation is a bit more flush, and the best part of all is that she’s not doing it alone!

“I also fell in love with my fiance over cosplay, who supports and does this with me as well! We’ve been together for a little over 5 years now.” (Fiance not pictured below.)

Beyond her search for a job and her creative pursuits, Megan keeps her sensitivity and her perspective. To other young women, she offers this advice:

“Keep your aspirations high, and your passions strong. Even if those passions aren’t conventional, or may not be something “feminine” or “ladylike,” keep them as strong as anything, and don’t let anyone get in your way. The world today can put up barriers, make things seem impossible, make goals seem unattainable; keep at it, though. Keep plugging away, at your own pace, so that one day, your dreams will become reality. It won’t always be easy, but it will be worth it in the end.”

For her cosplay creativity and pharmacy prowess, we think Megan Valentine-Shafer is a very Cool Girl!