Raven-Symoné Plans It Forward with Merck and Her Campus

We’ve all got dreams and the ambition to achieve them, but what about direction? Merck has partnered with Her Campus to help young women navigate their way to success with Plan It Forward. Considering any potential obstacles like loan deadlines, grad school application cut-off dates, and even unplanned pregnancies are critical to avoiding detours on the way to the top. A recent survey found that about half of young women not planning to have children in the next year or at all said it's important for them to hold off on having children until they are able to achieve their personal goals. The multi-talented Raven-Symoné has become the project's plan-bassador to help young women develop a clear roadmap for wherever they want to go in life. Glam sat down with the starlet to talk about the program, her starring role in “Sister Act” on Broadway, and her personal style.

So how did you become a part of Plan It Forward?
Well, Merck contacted me, and I think they understand that I love doing things for young women and young teenagers, or even young adults, that need to be encouraged to live their life to the fullest that they can. So they told me about the HerCampus.com and about Plan It Forward, and I’m said, “Oh my goodness, I’d love to be a part of it.” And giving this message out to those people brings me joy because they always ask me, “How do you make it in your life? How do you make it?” And this is definitely something that’s a part of my life. Planning and knowing the road that I want to take to get to where I need to go.

How would you explain the program to someone who didn’t know about it?
Well, first, I would tell them it’s a website on HerCampus.com. And on the website, you have all kinds of information dealing from life, beauty, career, schooling, contraception, family planning, and on this, you can click around for more information. And there’s also something called “What’s Your Plan?” and it all ties into planning it forward and helping people become the best that they can. There is a road map – I call it applications – but there’s a road map screen that you can type in what you would like to do and [enter the] information that it asks, and in the end, it prints out this whole entire map of where you need to go and what directions you need go in, whether you want to go to college, whether you want to start your own company, and anything else that you may have dreams of becoming. And “She’s the First” is another section of it where you learn about this wonderful, wonderful foundation that helps girls in other countries become the first in their village or neighborhood, meaning the first to go to college, or the first to start up their own company, things of that nature. And Merck gave $25,000 to help them do that, and you can help as well.

What’s your best piece of advice for a girl who’s really confused about her direction in life, whether they’re in high school or in college?
I think my advice to them is whatever topic you’re discouraged about, there’s an expert for that, and there’s a website to go to that will help you figure out at least where to start. For instance, if you have questions about health or contraception, or family planning, you can talk to your doctor and you can also find information on HerCampus.com. If you want to get an education [and] you’re thinking, “Well, my parents never went to college, what do I do? How do I start?” And if you didn’t get to talk to your counselor in school, you can go on this website and they can help you; they can point you in the right direction so that you can get all the information that you need to even know where to begin. And I think that the girls that are a little discouraged of not knowing what to do for their future, that’s what role models are for. Everything can be a job, everything can be a life plan – you just have to make sure that you know what you want. So, you’ve got to find it first.

Congrats on your new role in “Sister Act” on Broadway! How has your experience been so far?
It’s going very, very well. I’m in my third week, and the cast and crew and the Broadway community are very loving. I’m having a great time!

After your run on “Sister Act,” what’s your next step?
My next step is to take a vacation – plain and simple.

Since you’ve been in the city, have you had a chance to do any shopping yet?
No, I stay in my house, and I go to work. I can’t do that much because it’s a lot.

Since you’re busy, do you get a chance to do any online shopping?
No. I really haven’t bought anything because I have a plan. My plan is not to spend any money while I’m here – save up as much as I want to because I want to go on a very long vacation. I’m not the type of person who even though I have something, I’m going to go spend it just because. So one of my goals this time is to save money and to keep my hair the same. I know that sounds weird, but normally, I change my hair all the time. And with being in this city, away from my home, I thought, “You know what, I’m going to stick with something longer than just a week.” So, I have goals for myself, very short-term, but, yeah, that kind of goes in that category.

You’ve always had a distinctive style, are there any particular style staples that girls should be aware of this season?
The things that fit you; the things that make you happy, which is why I get in so much trouble a lot because I just like to wear what I like to wear [and it's] not necessarily what’s in style. I don’t like looking like something. I’m not the type of person who looks and thinks, “I’m going to get that style.” I think, “I’ll just take those shoes and mix it with this.” I like to think of myself — right now, I always switch it up — like if Kurt Cobain and Janet Jackson had a baby, and it was me. So a little punk rock, a little R&B, you know, a little hip-hop, and a little country.

What are your top beauty items that you always have in your makeup bag?
Mascara. I always have my Lancôme Galatée Confort — I don’t know how to pronounce it, but it’s a cream cleanser. And I always have a nice liner.

For more information and to download your Plan It Forward Course Creator and Personal Roadmap, please visit HerCampus.com/PlanItForward.