by Kristin Lubbers
Earlier this month, middle school girls from Lamar, Granada, Holly, Wiley, McClave, Eads, Campo, and Pritchett schools attended the Girls in the Middle Conference held at Lamar Community College. The day was packed with fun-filled activities related to career exploration, following a Survivor theme.
The conference began with a welcome by Dr. Linda Lujan, Lamar Community College President, followed by keynote speaker, Lauren Jones.
Jones shared her own personal journey in career exploration, starting at a very early age when her love of the sea led her to dream of being a marine biologist. However, her career plans took a very different direction after a family tragedy launched a new dream of becoming a licensed school counselor. Jones' address was one of great inspiration and motivation, encouraging the attendees to work hard in the face of obstacles to achieve their goals.
Jones currently works with the Colorado Community College System as the Career & Technical Education Program Director for Special Populations, Counseling & Equity.
After the keynote address, conference attendees broke into groups depending on their interest in a specific field of employment. The girls attended two different break-out sessions, highlighting a variety of careers including Agriculture, Banking, Law Enforcement, Military Services, News Reporting, the Oil & Gas Industry, Education, Zoology, and Health Care.
These groups were led by some of Lamar Community College's finest female students: Taylor Almaguer, Michelle Batista, Angel Cascamisi, Marissa Castanos, Hannah Coin, Brittany Hoekwater, Patricia Lira, Monea Ortiz, Christina Potter, Adrianna Ruggieri, Jordyn Scritchfield, Jenaye de Seve, and Gabrielle Tsinijinni.
After a quick lunch provided by BJ's Burgers & Beverage, the girls moved into the afternoon activities. First, they met once again with Lauren Jones who walked them through career aptitude testing, helping each to narrow down the different career fields they might be interested in pursuing.
To wrap up the day, the middle school girls were divided into four teams to compete in a Survivor-style relay race to win bragging rights and cookies.
"We had some exciting new professions to present to our girls this year," said Tori Hawks, a Girls in the Middle board member. "At the end of the day, it was great to hear the middle school girls coming and telling us about their new dream job. And the college students were great role models for these young ladies. You could tell at the end of the day it was another successful Girls in the Middle!"
Plans are currently underway for the 2018 conference.
A special thank-you to the presenters who donated their time and expertise to share their careers with the girls: Natalie Bond, farm loan manager for Farm Service Agency; Jenni Diaz, zoologist with Cheyenne Mountain Zoo; Lisa Dominquez, retired US Marine; Katie Pelton, news reporter for KKTV; Ali Kinter, project manager for Zedi; Dr. Linda Lujan, LCC President; Marsha Turley, detention sergeant with the Prowers Sheriff's Office; and the nurses of Southeast Colorado AHEC including Della Abeyta, Marie Manzanares, Gail Martinez, and Eve Muniz Valdez.