By ROSIE GITHINJI
MT. VERNON — —
Over 42 girls had the opportunity to hear from five accomplished women and meet many others during the Young Ladies Leadership Luncheon.
Mt. Vernon mayor Mary Jane Chesley, Shawna Hall, a board member of the Rend Lake College Foundation; youth minister Tineka Doggan; pediatrician Marjorie Nwosu of Crossroads Community Hospital, and Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge Nicole Villani were all speakers during the luncheon.
Each woman spoke to the girls, in grades 6 through 9, about the importance of education, ignoring negative comments, being able to turn a dream into a reality and much more.
Angela Moore of Developing New Attitude said the young ladies who were selected were chosen because of their leadership qualities.
Developing New Attitude was founded earlier this year to mentor young people and provide positive reinforcement through a variety of educational programs and activities.
“We hope you are inspired by what you see here today,” Moore told the girls, pointing out there were a range of career paths and people to learn from.
Hall, the first speaker, told the girls it did not matter what they wanted to be, as long as they worked hard to become so.
“The real world is about work,” she told them. “[It’s] about working for what you want. It’s not glamorous working your way up. The bottom of the food chain is where you get started. If you want to be a leader, if you want to be the best, it starts today.”
Doggan, a pastor is also a therapist by profession, said one of the things which made her a great leader is that she never forgot where she came from and as a child, she knew there were great things in store for her.
Villani told the girls each of them were at the beginning of their lives and they have so many opportunities in front of them. She each of the girls need to ask themselves what they are interested in and what they are passionate about.
Villani also encouraged the girls to do as many extracurricular activities as they could, to make wise choices when picking their friends and to find something they love doing each and every day.
“Leadership is knowing you are doing the best you possibly can,” she said.
Chesley began by telling the girls, “Maybe someday you will end up being a mayor or city council member, or a doctor or a lawyer.” She said the way to achieve any goal is through education.
She said there are many qualities that make someone a leader, including listening, communicating and being enthusiastic about the community. She added the two most important qualities were earning the respect of the people you work with and learning the qualities of those same people.
Nwosu rounded out the group of women who spoke at the luncheon. She encouraged each of the girls to be a leader, not a follower.
“You are going to get a lot of doors slammed in your face,” she told the girls. “If you are going to be a leader, be educated at what you are leading in.”
She told the group there is “always a way” to achieve what they want, adding “go for what you believe in.”
Nwosu echoed Chesley when she said education is the key to success and to not allow negative sentiments to hinder their dreams.
“Do not shut down on your dreams,” she said. “And don’t let anyone tell you, you can’t be anything you want to be.”
Destiny D., a sixth grader who attended the luncheon, said she had fun.
“I like the people who spoke,” she said. “I want to be a leader, either by being a teacher or being a firefighter. Probably a teacher.”
Briana Newton, an eighth grader at the luncheon, said Villani was her favorite speaker.
“I want to be a criminal lawyer when I grow up,” she said, adding she was inspired by all the women who spoke at the luncheon.