Girls Learn About Careers

Phenomenal Womens Conference
By: Todd Martin
Seventh- and eighth-graders learned about a variety of career opportunities Saturday at the Phenomenal Women’s Conference at Shoemaker High School.
Students from five Killeen ISD middle schools and three Temple ISD middle schools rotated through classrooms to hear from professionals in marketing, news, art, business, technology, healthcare, law enforcement and other sectors.
The event, the second of its kind and first since 2015, was tied to a federal grant called Gear-Up that provides college and career preparation opportunities for a cohort of students through middle school and high school.
Providing insight into career options and preparing a pathway was the focus of the event, said Angenet Wilkerson, community relations director for Killeen ISD.
It also allowed the middle school girls to attach real people to specific career fields.
“We have professional women from the community here and they are sharing their stories,” Wilkerson said.
A Killeen Police Department detective showed girls the variety of supplies inside the department’s mobile crime scene unit.
She also gave students the chance to brush various items for fingerprints.
A local artist explained her style of art work and let the girls take a small sampling of her work.
A cyber technology high school teacher displayed broken computer servers so students could see the inside of the hardware and learn how it functions.
Following an opening session, the girls rotated to four career workshops based on their interests, then ended the day with a professional dress fashion show.
Manor Middle School seventh-grader Dezhonne Sampson said she was interested in a session that addressed the mental health field. Participants poked their hand to gauge their own reactions.
She also enjoyed the law enforcement presenters. “I really enjoyed it,” she said. “It showed us job choices, all the opportunities we have,” she said.
“I learned about careers I never thought about,” said Palo Alto eighth-grader Lakyia Wilson. She said she learned about the real estate business, a field she said seemed interesting and something she might enjoy.
“I enjoyed meeting people from different schools,” she said. “It’s been a good learning experience. We are learning a lot that we can use later in life.”
Gear-Up stands for Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs.
In Bell County, services like mentoring and field trips tied to post-secondary education options are provided for this year’s seventh- and eighth-graders at Manor, Nolan, Palo Alto, Live Oak Ridge and Rancier middle schools and at Bonham, Lamar and Travis Science Academy in Temple ISD. The current grant will follow students through high school graduation.