Speaking to young girls at Serviam Girls Academy’s first-ever Women’s Career Day last month, Staff Sergeant Mary Kate Hall said she pursued a career in music in, of all places, the U.S. Army. Hall regularly performs with the 287th Army Band.
Saying that there is a world of opportunity in the military that many young girls might not have considered, Hall told the middle schoolers, “I ended up in the Army and the Air National Guard because I wanted to go to college. I knew there was no way my mom could afford to send me to college on her own.”
Hall was one of 20 women with professional backgrounds in science, law, and business, and the military who shared their stories with Serviam students, giving them a window into career goals and the path to achieving them. Speakers included a family court judge, a physical therapist, a physician, a civil engineer, a veterinarian, an ‘improvisor’ from City Theatre Company, and leaders in Wilmington’s business community.
Saying she loves what she does, Hall said she lucked out learning that she could have a career in the Army band. But, she said, landing the perfect job — she participated in several auditions and interviews — required lots of preparation. Her practical advice included where to look for help with college tuition costs. “All military services have access to federally-funded tuition. They can help get you to school to do what it is that you want to do when you grow up. I’m still working on the growing up.”
Professionals demonstrate that all things are possible
Serviam President Peggy Provoznik Heins said some project-based learning programs push her middle schoolers to apply math and science concepts to real-world business situations. And with older students having an eye toward high school, career day was a natural fit.
“Who better to demonstrate to our young scholars than professional women that all things are possible,” Heins said. “We were so grateful that these strong, confident women shared their incredibly interesting career stories with us. This was an eye-opening experience for our students, reminding them of the importance and value of a good education.”
Therapist Dr. Kietra Winn told students that her goal was to pursue a career where she would find joy every day and allow her to ‘give back.’ She joined the Center for Child Development in Newark after earning her master’s degree and later a doctorate in clinical social work. “It was a lot of hard work, but I’ll never say that I want to be challenged again.”
Barclays Managing Director Rachana Bhatt shared that she loved math and science classes in high school and fully thought she would become a scientist or engineer. But an economics class that she took her senior year made her rethink her career objectives. That’s when I thought, “Business sounds interesting, too.” She ended up earning a dual degree in business and engineering at the University of Pennsylvania.
Serviam 8th graders learn about careers they have never heard of
Eighth-grader Adrionna Deloatch said she was surprised to learn that many of the speakers didn’t follow a straight path to professional success. “Listening to them finding their way was so inspiring to me. Some speakers said they went to multiple colleges to figure out what they were doing, and then they finally found their interests and it became their passion. I really appreciated hearing that.” Adrionna is deciding between attending Archmere and Wilmington Christian School in the fall.
Student Jae’lyn Rapier, who will enroll in Mount Pleasant’s International Baccalaureate® (IB) program in the fall, said career day helped her connect what she is learning to real-world experiences. “I got words of encouragement because I asked questions like, ‘Does high school really prepare you for college?'” Jae’lyn says she hopes to become an orthodontist.
Cheyenne Walker will be a freshman at Tatnall School in the fall, where she hopes to take part in the performing arts program there. “I think the speakers the school lined up were really great. They were so interesting and I had never heard of so many of those careers before. I’m not sure I will pursue any of their career paths, but they all proved that they are successful because they love what they do.”
Serviam Girls Academy is a tuition-free, independent middle school serving underserved girls of all faiths in grades 5 through 8. Serviam Girls Academy is almost entirely donor-driven. Their biggest fundraiser of the year, Evening Under the Stars, takes place Friday, April 26th. The event is open to the public, and tickets are still available.