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Teen girls peer into future

Event shows young women a few of the potential professional opportunities that await them

Posted: May 24, 2009 9:49 p.m.
Updated: May 25, 2009 8:00 a.m.
More than 50 young girls spent Saturday morning mingling with working women and learning about potential career paths.

Local Girl Scout Lauren Estrada, 16, organized the Career Day for Girls. The event, hosted at His Way Community Church in Valencia, brought together 20 career-minded women to inform young girls on an array of professional possibilities such as pediatric dentistry, teaching, law practice, actuarial, architecture, marketing, law enforcement and more.

"We learned a lot more jobs we weren't familiar with, like packaging engineering," said Caroleen Bitar, 14, who attended the event with her sister, Deana Bitar, 12.

The Bitars, of Porter Ranch, had a couple of options in mind for the future when they entered the career day, but they attended to be more prepared when it comes time to actually choose a career.

"It's going to come up sooner than we think," Caroleen said. "We just thought we'd come and see what the options are and talk to people in those jobs and see what they like."

Rio Norte Junior High School student Rachael Tiemann, 14, wants to be a pediatrician, but she was able to learn more specifically about pediatric dentistry from Dr. Carla Abboud.

Rachael's mother, Brenda Tiemann, answered questions any of the girls had about pediatric speech and language pathology.

"They've been (asking) really great questions: What kind of schooling? What made you go into speech therapy?" Tiemann said.

Assistant Professor of Journalism Lori Baker-Schena, from California State University Northridge, said she makes sure to tell her students and those looking for a career, "Number one, figure out what your passion is, find a mentor who understands that passion and figure out how you can channel it into a career."

As a Girl Scout of five years, Estrada organized the career day to earn her prestigious Gold Award, the highest award she can receive as a scout. To receive the award, Estrada had to complete a 65-hour project that benefits the community and leaves a long-lasting impact on girls in the community.

She thought a career day geared towards sixth- to ninth-graders would do just that.

"As a sixth-grader, I had no idea what I wanted to do when I grew up," she said. "So I wanted to give these girls a chance to learn about different fields and talk to women in these different careers they may not have even heard of before."

After researching venues, contacting 20 different working women and getting the word out to local school districts and Girl Scout troops, Estrada said her project amounted to about 70 hours of work. Estrada herself is a junior at Hart High School, interested in business management or engineering.

"I'm really proud of Lauren for organizing this Career Day for Girls," said her mother, Vicki Cho Estrada. "Other organizations have put on similar events on a larger scale and I think her project came out just as well."

Jennifer Henningfield, a field-education coordinator in the department of social work, said career days should be more common for girls and boys.

"I don't think we do a good enough job preparing them for finding a career," said Henningfield, who works for California State University Northridge. "They know what jobs their mom and dad do, and maybe aunts and uncles, but they just know their immediate scope sometimes.


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