When the reaction to a keynote speaker is "wow," clearly something went right.
And "wow" it was after four women who've found success in various fields spoke to about 75 girls at Metea Valley High School during Women's History Month.
"The girls basically said they were blown away and so inspired," said Jennifer Rowe, dean for the class of 2020 at Metea, who coordinated the second annual event.
The Women's History Month Workshop aimed to connect girls nominated by their teachers to peers they haven't already met, to professional women within their school who can serve as role models, and to inspiring ladies from the broader community with stories of success, Rowe said.
The students heard from Aisha el-Amin, associate dean of student services at the University of Illinois at Chicago; Taneshia Davis, specialized youth services coordinator for 360 Youth Services in Naperville; Tracey Conrad, a retired public school administrator from Columbia, Missouri; and Kristen Ziman, the first female police chief for the city of Aurora.
"Every one of the speakers, even though the titles were different," Rowe said, "they all came back to personal stories of obstacles and how it's so important to have that network of amazing women to help you get through."
Aside from the four main speakers, participating students got to network and share lunch with roughly 20 other professional women in fields such as politics, education, policing, libraries, law enforcement, business, therapy and physics.
Students also received a copy of the book "Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race," which has now been turned into a movie.
Rowe said Aurora Alderman Scheketa Hart-Burns provided copies for the girls and attended the workshop March 9 at the Aurora school as one of the professional guests.
For a handful of students, the event even served as a stage. A group from Metea's a cappella choir Muses performed, as did two students who are members of the school's speech team.