Career Girls Inspire Middle School Girls to Pursue STEM and Their Dream Careers

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From left to right: Charmin Baaqee, Marisa Rodriguez, Career Girls Founder and Executive Producer Linda Calhoun, June Grant and Olabisi Boyle inspire more than 125 middle school girls to pursue their dream careers at the 12th Annual “Attend & Achieve” Back to School Rally at Oakland City Hall.

The San Francisco-based non-profit Career Girls held a workshop Saturday, Aug. 3 at the 12th Annual “Attend & Achieve” Back to School Rally at Oakland City Hall.

The panel and workshop featured six local women who shared their professional jour­neys to inspire more than 125 6th and 8th grade girls to pur­sue their full potential in and outside of the classroom this school year.

The workshop included a discussion about the challeng­es young girls in Oakland face that present potential barriers to achieving academic and per­sonal success, such as what to do when no one is encouraging you to pursue your dreams or how do you find joy in addition to enjoying career success.

The workshop offered tools to help the girls understand their strengths, explore the right career for them and dis­cussed how choosing the right friends aids in their success.

Recent studies show that girls of color in Oakland had “uniquely negative experienc­es” at school. In fact, one-third of the district’s girls are Black, and 2 out of 3 Black girls are suspended. Among all girls, Black girls are most likely to be chronically absent and least likely to graduate. Having pos­itive role models is key to help­ing young girls in Oakland and around the world discover their own path to empowerment.

The workshop included a panel moderated by Career Girls founder and executive poducer Linda Calhoun featur­ing Marisa Rodriguez, director, San Francisco Office of Canna­bis; Lauren Spencer, actor, the­atre instructor & activist; Lynn Reddrick, manager of the Sup­plier Diversity Program at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco; Charmin BaaQee, civil engineer at Oakland’s East Bay Municipal Water District; arts entrepreneur; architect June Grant, design principal at blink!LAB Architecture; and Olabisi Boyle; vice president of Visa’s Internet of Things (IoT) program.

After the workshop, Career Girls offered career explora­tion activities for the 500 el­ementary, middle and high-school girls and their families that attended the rally.

“Career Girls is founded on the dream that every girl around the world, regardless of their background, has ac­cess to diverse and accom­plished women role models that inspire them to reach for the stars professionally and in life,” said Calhoun. “Remind­ing these young women that their dreams can come true is the most fulfilling part of what we do. We’re honored to join other like-minded organiza­tions at this year’s rally.”

As a first-generation col­lege graduate, Linda Calhoun wished she had women who looked like her to learn from when she entered the work­force. That’s why Calhoun founded Career Girls in 1996. Careegirls.org provides 11,000 videos of more than 600 di­verse women role models shar­ing tips and insights on topics like choosing careers, develop­ing the right skills, overcoming obstacles and staying moti­vated. Visit careergirls.org for more information.

Oakland Native Gives Back is a non-profit that addresses chronic absenteeism to ensure all Oakland students graduate from high school – organized the rally. The rally was attend­ed by 1,000 students.

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