Contributed by Isabella Judge, Summer 2018 Pathfinder and Communications Intern
One of the most exciting events here at GEN is the Pathfinder Leadership Summit — a week-long program for girls entering grades 9-12 at our office, packed full of workshops and activities.
This year, 31 girls from across Austin and the surrounding areas joined us for Pathfinder. Over the week, they learned about healthy relationships, resume-writing, public speaking and interviewing, time management, college admissions and scholarships, resiliency, and many more incredible topics in workshops presented by GEN staff and special guest speakers.
In addition to the fun workshops, the girls were able to participate in site-visits to local companies like FaceBook, South Congress Hotel, and Chateau Bellevue. One of the most exciting parts of Pathfinder are the two Power Chat sessions- mini speed-dating-like rounds of one-on-one networking with our amazing career women volunteers.
I sat down with Priyanka, who participated in Pathfinder for the second year in a row, and asked her a few questions about her experience.
- Tell me about one relationship you formed through Pathfinder that you believe will last into the coming school year(s)
- I grew really close to Orianna, a fellow Pathfinder attendee. Although she had also been with me during the 2017 Pathfinder summit, we hadn’t grown as close then as we had this year. We seemed like polar opposites; I was energetic and outspoken, while she was more reserved and soft-spoken. I never imagined we would click like we did. At Pathfinder, we learned together, laughed together, and cried together (not to mention, we ate a whole lot of food together).I felt comfortable sharing some of the most vulnerable parts of my personality with her, and she was only accepting and attentive. I communicate with Orianna almost every day now, on the phone and over text. We help each other through bad days, we fight demons together, and we’re ready to support and empower each other through the coming school years.
- What was your favorite memory from the week?
- One of my favorite memories from the week was visiting the Chateau Bellevue. I met some bold, insightful women during the power chats there (and at the GEN Office) and they gave me new perspectives on the life of a student, the life of an advocate, and the life of a woman. I loved exploring the chateau with the other girls too; we came up with stories about how it was haunted by ghosts of medieval centuries. We took in an unfamiliar location and situation and made the most of it by being curious and making each other laugh. All of that made up a memory I will not soon forget.
- How will you apply the skills learned in Pathfinder to your experience in high school and beyond?
- I’m so grateful for the advice on studying, networking, relationships, and advocacy from Pathfinder. It will help me grasp new opportunities and stay professional and successful through high school and college. What I think impacted me the most, though, was my newfound experience in public speaking. After writing and giving my speech on becoming an astronaut, my confidence skyrocketed (pun intended). I feel more comfortable talking to larger groups of people and expressing myself in a way that’s comfortable and meaningful to me. Pathfinder helped me discover and expand upon the public speaking potential that I had since the beginning.
Pictured above are Priyanka (second from the right) and Orianna (far left). Both received Pathfinder awards; Priyanka earned the title of “Team Player” for her willingness to jump in and help out wherever she was needed and Orianna earned the “Gentirely Dedicated” Award for being our first-ever 3-year Pathfinder participant!
To learn more about programs like Pathfinder, check out the page here!