Girls to Women event offers career advice, healthy habits |

Girls to Women event offers career advice, healthy habits

Margaret Hair

— In two career-oriented workshops Tuesday morning, eighth-grade student Arielle Gold learned to keep her options and her mind open.

The annual Girls to Women workshops for eighth-grade girls outlined the steps toward a career choice for Gold and other participants. Gold said she learned to "go into it with an open mind, and don't be set on something for your future — see how it feels and if you actually want to do it because you can always change your mind."

Instilling that attitude is one of the goals of Girls to Women, which offers career and lifestyle seminars to girls getting ready to go into high school, event chairwoman Melissa Calhoon said.

"I think our main goal for this is to just open their eyes to different options open to them for whatever they decide to do after high school. … We would like to expose them to as many options as possible," Calhoon said.

Eighth-grade girls from schools in Steamboat Springs, Hayden, South Routt County, North Routt County, Rangely and North Park participated in the annual event at The Steamboat Grand. Now in its 12th year, the Girls to Women conference involved about 130 students, Calhoon said. Local nonprofit New Frontiers for Girls and Women presents the event.

Participants chose two of 19 career-focused sessions to attend in the morning and one of 10 lifestyle sessions to attend in the afternoon. Career topics included agriculture, food service, law, photography, writing, spa services, human resources and emergency services. Lifestyle topics included relationships, self-defense, communication, yoga and healthy habits. To choose topics, event organizers looked at a survey conducted a few years ago and took suggestions from students at the 2009 event, Calhoon said.

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Hailee Russell, a student at Rangely Middle School, said she learned how to take the first steps to pursue a writing career in her first workshop of the day. Shya Redna, of North Park Middle School, said she learned the road to becoming a doctor is a long one. Ellie Bender, of Steamboat Springs Middle School, said her morning sessions taught her how to be an individual.

Sonja Macys, director of Yampatika, opened the day with a keynote speech. After showing a few slides of herself as an eighth-grader, Macys covered her path from school to Mexico to Steamboat Springs. In her speech, Macys tried to encourage Girls to Women participants to keep learning, to experience life as it happens and to participate in their communities.

Before ending the day with lifestyle workshops, students filled out a theoretical monthly budget in an exercise called "Reality Bytes." Taking into account student loans, rent, utilities, car payments, clothing, transportation, health care and other expenses, students got an idea of how much they would need to earn in a given month to cover it all.

— To reach Margaret Hair, call 871-4204 or e-mail