Summer LeadHERship Summit empowers student leaders

Aspiring female leaders listened intently to the powerful words presented to them on a Saturday morning at the Summer LeadHERship Summit.

The group of high school girls sitting in the South cafetorium on July 24 was small, but a strong and uplifting energy could be felt throughout the room.

The summit was presented by the Board Room Project, a non-profit organization that seeks to invest in the future of young girls and professional women. The event was open to middle school and high school girls and introduced them to business, board, and community sectors.

“So, the idea that we are bringing women from all professional backgrounds to lead and really influence our next generation is something that we have all been needing throughout this country, so we are quite excited for the work,” Founder and Chair of The Boardroom Project Salena Guipzot said.  “We are excited to have individuals from banks to physicians to a local business owner. The fact that we have local support really means that these women want to be that representation for these young girls.”

Dr. Lizette Goodloe, co-founder of Behind the Whistle, is a Harlingen alumna who worked to bring this opportunity to the Harlingen area.

“We have some fantastic ladies that are going to be speaking to you,” Superintendent Dr. Alicia Noyola said at the start of the event. “These ladies have shared the same initiative you have, ladies that have taken on the challenge to put themselves at the very top level so they too can not only advance themselves but other ladies around them. So, I hope that what you take from today is that whatever your dreams are, whatever you are already dreaming of becoming, it is possible.”

The day was filled with many inspiring messages and advice.

 “Well, it’s called leadHERship, so I am guessing it is really just going to help with our confidence and leading things or speaking out in the public,” Harlingen School of Health Professions senior Juliandra Adriano said. “I know we are going to be doing college applications in twelfth grade, and this can probably help with that.”

The Board Room Project aims to prepare young women to become more present and successful in non-profit and corporate boardrooms across the country.

“Without leadership, everything just falls apart,” Harlingen School of Health Professions senior Sofia Peters said. “Leadership is definitely important in the medical field. You need to be a strong leader to be able to get the work done in an efficient manner.”

Of course, the girls who attended this summit learned about the importance of leadership, but they also got to have one-on-one conversations, ask questions, and network with female leaders in the community.

“I like taking charge and sharing my ideas with everybody, so I thought this was a good opportunity to get more experience with that,” Harlingen High School sophomore Haiden Perales said. “I want to be a physical therapist. Leadership in this type of position is important because your clients need to see that you are able to balance out everything, and they need that positivity. They need encouragement, so that’s why it’s really important.”

One part of the event included a panel of professional women who discussed obstacles, shared personal stories and advice, and talked about the importance of perseverance and finding work-life balance.

KVEO news anchor and reporter Sydney Gray was one of the panelists.

“I think it’s important you remain confident in everything you do and what you say when you speak to people,” Gray said. “Confidence will carry you very, very far. So, keep that and work on that. Also, you can make a difference anywhere in the world and you can bring it back home and better your community.”

The other panelists were Dr. Lisa Pena, co-founder of Labeled & Loved; Michelle Franco, owner and manager of Pooches Corner; and Lauren Campbell, Vice President of the Harlingen Area Chamber of Commerce.

The event featured many other speakers and even included the BlazHER Project, a program that provides access to professional attire for young leaders.

The group of students left the Summer LeadHERship Summit that day with fresh ideas, new connections, and a better understanding of what it takes to be successful as a female leader.

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