For the last two weeks of school, 90 young women were seeing their futures open up in front of them at Danforth, Westside Academy, and Frazer Middle Schools. The Syracuse Women’s Commission, in partnership with the Mayor’s Office and the Syracuse City School District held a two-morning Career Exploration workshop series for middle school girls on June 6th, 7th, 12th, and 13th. The purpose of the workshop series was to expose young women to information about the wide range of career opportunities available to them, and inspire them to strive for success on whatever path they might choose. Participating students were selected by their teachers and principals based on need and interest. Professional women from the Syracuse community representing six vastly different career fields spoke in small group sessions with participants about their about their careers in 20 minute sessions. Professions represented were attorney, police officer, firefighter, social worker, engineer, architect, gallery director, business owner, restaurateur, nurse, news anchor, photo journalist, and property maintenance manager. Girls were given the opportunity to ask questions, share their own career aspirations, and discuss their own challenges and hesitations with each speaker group.
With many professions still largely dominated by men, the series sought to show participants in a focused environment that there is nothing that they cannot do if it is something they are interested in, enjoy, and are willing to work towards. Additionally, Mayor Miner addressed the young women at all three schools, sharing stories of her experiences in school, her challenges with math and shyness, and her rise to her current career through courage and self determination.
As the series came to a close, participants left with new perspectives on just how many careers there are available to them. Asked to fill out a questionnaire at the end of the second day with their thoughts on the speakers, the program, and their ideas about their futures, their thoughtful responses showed that many of the girls left feeling empowered. One young woman from Danforth Academy asserted “I feel like I could be and do anything. I am unstoppable.” Many came out determined to pursue new and exciting careers in fields they claim they never before considered. Other responses included:
“I think that now I can do anything I put my mind to and choose any career I want.”
“I feel that I can be what I want to be and do what I want to do.”
“I’m starting to think about different career paths because there are so many more than I thought”
By learning from the example of successful women in the Syracuse community, it is the hope of the Mayor and the Commission that participants will see their own futures as bright and full of potential and possibility as they really are. The Syracuse Commission for Women will continue to plan events that benefit the women and girls of Syracuse, and plan to organize career exploration series at more schools this fall and next spring.
To learn more about the Women’s Commission, visit: http://www.syracuse.ny.us/Syracuse_Commission_for_Women.aspx.
***A huge thank you goes out to Tops Friendly Markets for donating snacks and water for workshop participants!***