Malala Yousafzai, Michelle Obama, and Ruby Bridges were some of the names that came up during a session at the Every Girl CanTM Conference on March 10 when girls talked about their role models.
The conference, which focused on leadership, took place at Montgomery College’s Cultural Arts Center in Takoma Park/Silver Spring and hosted about 80 girls ranging from fifth through eighth grade. The 10th annual event, organized by the Girl Can Learning Institute in collaboration with MC, featured Montgomery College President DeRionne Pollard as the keynote speaker and women panelists who work in government, media, arts and culture, healthcare, business, politics, STEM, sports and education.
“I like science and math. I started building Legos when I was younger and I still do it sometimes. Now I am in science club at school,” said 10-year-old Maddie Desrocher from Silver Spring. She was there with her mom, Rebecca. Desrocher aspires to be an engineer or an author, as she is also an avid fan of fiction literature, especially the Harry Potter series.
Ten-year-old Allyson Siro attends Rolling Terrace Elementary School and is interested in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) and reading. “I have good teachers, they’re really nice and they help me learn more about what I want to learn about,” she said. “I thought it was fun [to attend] and that girls should come to these programs more because they are really strong and powerful.”
During her speech, Dr. Pollard expanded on the message of girls and women’s strength, and added that failure and resiliency are key elements of success. She also noted that girls are sometimes critical of each other. “I can see now—as a grown woman—that strong girls don’t do that. Not everyone is the same and that’s OK. Strong girls accept it when their friends are different.”
Dr. Bess Vincent, MC’s assistant administrative dean of instruction at the Germantown Campus, was there to meet with girls interested in the education field. She and the rest of the panelists were available during the leadership learning loop, a session devoted to one-on-one time with the kids.
College advisor Gloria Bonilla as well as students Marcela Osorio, Priyanka Sharma, and Rashani Ward-Williamson led small sessions with the attendees.