Come April, Michigan State University’s Breslin Center will have emptied of Spartan basketball teams, but will open its doors to a completely different audience: young girls.

Suzy Merchant

Spartan women’s basketball coach Suzy Merchant plays an important role in planning and implementing empowHER.

On April 28-29, the Broad College of Business and Suzy Merchant, MSU’s women’s basketball coach, will host the second-annual empowHER Leadership Retreat, a grassroots initiative developed to reach young girls at the right time and give them the skills they need to take on personal and professional challenges in their lives.

empowHER was created to provide fifth- through ninth-grade girls from diverse backgrounds with the tools to find confidence, passion, and purpose. Merchant has a hands-on role in planning the retreat, leads motivational conversations during the time the girls are on campus, and participates in break-out sessions alongside the participants.

The 2017 retreat will kick off with keynote speaker Allison Schmitt, an eight-time Olympic medalist who advocates mental health awareness in the wake of her personal struggle with depression. Schmitt’s cousin, April Bocian, was recruited by Merchant and in her memory empowHER was created. Following tremendous success last year, the Broad College planned for a retreat of a greater scale by increasing attendance from 150 to 300 girls, and by adding three new breakout sessions: Loud and Body Proud, Self-Defense and Fueling Up With the Right Foods.

Learn more about the empowHER Leadership Retreat by visiting the event’s website.