The hugs I got on Tuesday are still giving me an endorphin high.
Earlier this week, I wrote about a mentoring event being held at Lincoln High school — one that organizers hoped would help young women meet lifelong mentors that would give them valuable advice, feedback, and encouragement.
The event, called “Breakfast With A Bunch of Beauties,” was presented by the Be You Tiful Girls, Dallas ISD trustee Bernadette Nutall, and sponsored by Urban Specialists.
I didn’t say it at the time, but I had already signed up to attend. Try as I might to just report about Dallas ISD, I will admit that I’m unwilling to just let my experience with the district be a tell, and not a do. And as a woman who has had her own share of mentors to provide guidance and advice over the years, it’s far past time for me to pay that forward.
I’m also ashamed to admit I’ve never been to Lincoln High until this week. I’ve been to many schools in the district, all over, and I’ve talked to teachers at Lincoln. I’ve heard trustee Bernadette Nutall wax ecstatic about Lincoln.
That pride is definitely justified.
Tuesday, I met some of the brightest, smartest, driven young women I’ve had the pleasure of talking to in a long time. I heard hopes, dreams, and sound logic about why one college was a better choice than another.
I met a future veterinarian, a future WNBA star, two future broadcast journalists, and a future teacher (or social worker, there’s a bit of a tug-of-war there). I met mothers who were clearly invested in shepherding their daughters academic and career dreams to reality.
And I loved every single second of it.
The event, which was planned in hopes of connecting students with mentors, also gave advice on how to dress for a job interview and stand out in the business world — including a great fashion show about work-appropriate wear, and what not to wear.
Co-organizer Nikisha Handy told me the preliminary count of mentors who attended was 125. “I had no idea there was that many women there — I’m happily shocked,” she said.
“The energy felt wonderful at the event and I received a lot of positive feedback,” she said, adding that this was the first time a mentorship program like this for young women had been held.
The auditorium (and later the gym) was full of smiles, too. Forget the stereotype of the surly teen — these young women were seeking those connections actively. Repeatedly, I was approached by a student ready to talk about their goals, my experiences, and ways we could work together to help reach those.
“The young ladies were extremely happy,” Handy said. “They were giggling and laughing and much happier than I had ever seen them be before while on campus.”
“They really appreciated the connections they made, and overall had a great time and gifts galore, so I believe the event made them feel appreciated.”
“There was a huge opportunity for women to connect with one another, and that was a huge incentive for the possibility of a mentor connecting with someone else that could be their mentor,” she added. “The networking that I saw with the mentors was so inspiring.”
If you missed the chance to take part in Tuesday’s event, Handy says more are in the works.
“Many of the women had interests in us creating more events like this to be on the weekends,” she said. “I am currently planning to ensure that we make that suggestion a priority.”
Bethany Erickson is the education, consumer affairs, and public policy columnist for CandysDirt.com. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.