Building Skills, Networks Focus of Annual Conference
Last weekend, GSHCC welcomed more than 100 girls and some pretty amazing professional mentors for the 3rd annual Girls Leading Our Way (GLOW) conference at Cosumnes River College.
While the date was April 1, this conference was no fooling around. From learning interview skills to exploring robotics, the girls in attendance got a good sense of the cool careers available to today’s young women, and some advice on how to successfully chart their courses.
GSHCC’s “girl experience” team, in conjunction with sponsors Intel, US Bank, SMUD and Nehemiah Corporation, put together a full-day experience for girls in grades 9-12, focused on four 21st century skills: creativity, critical thinking, collaboration and communication.
“You are capable of great things” was the focus of the event, a unique opportunity for high school girls to build networks with each other as well as female professionals in the Sacramento community.
At the opening session, participants received some guidance from Senior Girl Experience Specialist Madeline O’Neil, who served as the emcee for the event.
O’Neil set the stage for a productive day, by announcing:
“Whatever your special spark is, we are here today to allow you to take a closer look and learn how to channel your skills into an actionable future.”
World-class athlete Jamie Whitmore gave a keynote address that focused on the power of determination and a positive attitude. She encouraged girls to meet their challenges head on, while telling her inspiring, personal story of triumph after tragedy. Ten years ago, Whitmore conquered a cancer diagnosis and loss of part of her left leg and went on to continue her career as a decorated athlete.
She showed the audience that dreams can come true, even in the face of seeming insurmountable odds. Following her remarks, girls lined up to meet Jamie, enthusiastically posing for photos with her and her two gold medals.
After the first set of workshops, girls were treated to a presentation by Erica Manuel, part of SMUD’s community engagement team, who professed that her role in helping SMUD figure out new and exciting ways to help make our community a better place means she has the best job in the world.
During the four leadership tracks, it was obvious that the girls were confidently moving toward the next phase of their lives, considering their future careers. One participant enthusiastically told GSHCC Outdoor Experience Manager Heidi Truitt: “I love camp; I want your job!”
The robotics exercises encouraged hands-on exploration, led by pros from Intel.
The opportunity to build the girls’ networks was a key portion of the GLOW conference as well. Girl Scouts CEO Dr. Linda E. Farley delivered closing remarks during a networking dinner that allowed girls the chance to meet for informal discussions with professionals. Her advice was heartfelt and personal.
“Opportunity comes in different shapes and forms, and sometimes opportunities present themselves when you least expect them. I encourage you to answer when opportunity knocks–don’t be afraid to walk through the door, even if you’re a little nervous about the journey.”
She continued, encouraging girls to keep the day’s momentum going. “You’ve decided to take an active role in your future. I encourage you to continue on your journey as a leader, maintain the relationships you’ve started today, develop your network, and join arms to take action in your home, schools and communities,” she said.
“Keep going, open the door, step through and follow your path. You are capable of great things.”