When they entered the Girls On the Move Program at the beginning of July, most of the Grave Seven and Eight participants were insecure and unsure of themselves with low self esteem and confidence.
As they graduate today, the girls are leaving with their heads held high and full of optimism.
“It was an uplifting experience for all of them,” said coordinator Marcia Brown. “When they started, the majority were hesitant to stand up and say anything. Now, they speak up and they have a voice. They are empowered and you can see the difference.”
As part of the weekly four-day program that lasted three hours in the afternoon, the girls were exposed to talented women and mentors in the community, including educator Dr. Avis Glaze.
While some of the girls are unsure of their career goals, others were very clear what they wanted to do in their meeting with Dr. Glaze last week at North Kipling Junior Middle School. The choices ranged from registered nurse, chiropractor, veterinarian, criminal attorney, medical doctor and teacher to wedding planner, actress, police officer and pro soccer player.
“When I was your age, I wanted to be a lawyer, but I switched to teaching,” Glaze told the young women. “Always think of a career goal because it gives you something to work towards. Go to your guidance counselor and ask for career explorations.”
Glaze encouraged the participants to pursue post-secondary education and aim for the highest qualifications.
“Employers are no longer looking at the minimum requirements,” she said. “Long ago when I came to this country, a Grade 10 education got you a job with a police service here. Today, you must have at least a high school diploma and even that might not be enough since many police officers now have university degrees.
“I did my first degree in Jamaica and my Masters and doctorate here. As a young Black woman, if I had to compete for jobs, I had to make myself a little more qualified that the people I was competing with. A high school diploma will not get you far, so make sure you are qualified.”