|Some of the girls who attended the GIRL conference.|
Danielle Blunt, the founder of GIRL, and the other panelists spoke about importance of empowerment, leadership, self-esteem, academic success, and community service. Blunt founded GIRL to help prepare and motivate minority girls for leadership and career success, and she also runs programs at the Wedgewood Community Center in Annandale.
The girls learned about the skills they’ll need to pursue in-demand 21st century jobs in such areas as cyber security, entrepreneurship/business, hospitality, social media, forensic science, business intelligence, medicine, engineering, geospatial intelligence, law, government, and graphic design.
The participants were recruited by Alejandra Caballero, a community developer with the Fairfax County Office of Neighborhood and Community Services, and Computer Clubhouse Managers Laylan Salih, of the Willston Multicultural Center in Seven Corners and Jill Turner of the Gum Springs Community Center in Alexandria.
“What inspired me most about the conference is the speakers; they all came from different backgrounds and all overcame different obstacles,” Annandale High School student Brook Getachew said. “It showed me that success is not limited to one path and that opportunities come in all different forms.”
Lisseth Chavez, from the Willston Center, said GIRLS “made me realize that there are a lot of opportunities out there to be successful. I also learned from the conference that the more you volunteer at different jobs and organizations the more you have an idea of what profession you want to pursue.”
Among the messages the speakers brought to the girls: “The world needs you and your ideas,” “When someone says you can’t do something, use that to help you get a jump start on your goals,” “No knowledge is ever wasted,” “The investment you make in your life today will pay large dividends in the future.”