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Career success the focus of ‘Dream It, Be It Conference for Girls’

Soroptimist International of Indian Rock hosted the first annual ‘Dream It, Be It Career Conference for Girls on March 3rd at Spring Mill Manor in Northampton.

Those among the 23 registered high school students who attended the free, day-long conference learned how to match careers to values, set achievable goals, and overcome barriers to success.

Erin Welsh came to the conference to learn about careers and how to attain them. “I’ve learned about prioritizing, managing challenges and getting through obstacles and setbacks,” said the Archbishop Wood High School senior. “I’m a stronger woman and ready to take on the next years…being whoever I want to be.”

During the interactive, empowerment-directed sessions, such as the Game of Life, students learned ways to recognize and handle sexual harassment, family obligations, bullying and gender discrimination.

For Mercedes Sanoja-Suarez, 16, the conference was helping her learn how to navigate a career path in the male-dominated field of computer science.

While the Central Bucks South student said she knows she’ll need to overcome gender barriers, she also realizes that her passion will be driving her forward. She said, “When your job is something you have passion for, you’re going to be doing something that makes you happy.”

Marie Volterano, of Huntington Valley, was one of several inspirational speakers who shared their life stories and the paths to their chosen careers.

Having gone through the trauma of losing everything in a house fire as a teen, she struggled as a student in high school. “I was told I may as well forget college,” she said. Yet, through her resilience and perseverance, she completed her education and went on to law school.

Today she is a successful corporate attorney.

Nancy Montvydas, senior director of development with Soroptimist International of the Americas, explained the ongoing role of the Dream It, Be It program. “Our goal is to help girls in secondary school reach their goals by providing the professional role models, career education and the resources they need to overcome barriers and become strong, successful, happy adults.”

Soroptimist International of Indian Rock is a chapter of the global women’s organization, Soroptimist International, whose members volunteer to improve the lives of women and girls through programs leading to social and economic empowerment.

PHOTO CAP: Shermin Mangat (left), of New Hope-Solebury High School, and Mercedez Sanoja-Suarez, of Central Bucks South, exchange ideas about careers and the paths to achieve them.