Members of Soroptimist International of Coupeville are working to provide young women on Central Whidbey the skills they need to be successful — whatever their dreams may be.
The Dream It, Be It: Career Support for Girls program was initially developed by Soroptimist International of the Americas, an international volunteer organization which strives “to improve the lives of women and girls through programs leading to social and economic empowerment” according to the organization’s website.
The Dream It, Be It program focuses on connecting girls ages 14-18 with professional role models in their community, increasing girls’ knowledge of career opportunities and supplying girls with the tools needed to achieve success.
The free program was first implemented by the Coupeville club in October, spanning seven Wednesdays. Seven students attended.
Kathy Sechrist, SIOC member and chairperson for the Dream It, Be It program, said that in hopes of attracting more participants, the next session will be held over three consecutive Saturdays March 5-19. The first two sessions will take place from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., while the third will take place from and 10 a.m. to 3:30 or 4 p.m.
The first two sessions will consist of two modules each, while the third will consist of three modules.
Individual facilitators, the majority of whom are SIOC members, lead discussions for their respective modules. Topics of discussion primarily focus on discovering each of the girls’ individual aspirations and how they may go about achieving them.
“We tell our girls, ‘You can do anything you want to; just go for it.’ But we never give them a path or support to show them how to get there,” Sechrist said.
One of the program objectives is helping young women to develop a plan for overcoming obstacles, Sechrist added.
Another key component of the program is connecting girls with professional women in the community who have overcome hurdles to achieve success in their chosen field.
The October session incorporated guest speakers including the owners of Emily’s Sweets and Treats and The Seaside Spa and Salon in Coupeville, as well as a talk by Julie Swanson of the Washington State Patrol, who has since retired.
Based on feedback from the October session, the program will likely also soon include a mentorship program for more long-term collaboration between community role models and individual students.
“It’s just one more step in the process to support the girls as much as we can,” Sechrist said.
Speakers, and potential mentors, represent various industries, which Sechrist said is particularly important in order to demonstrate the array of opportunities and fields available to young women.
It is also essential in demonstrating the many means by which young people can achieve success, she added.
Though college works well for some, Sechrist contended that it isn’t necessarily the right, or affordable, option for everyone. To reinforce this point, many of the Dream It, Be It speakers represent vocations that do not require a college degree.
Attendees of the previous session expressed interests in careers in fields ranging from cosmetology to the FBI, she noted.
“I’m 65 and when I graduated from high school, I didn’t know what I wanted to be,” Sechrist said. “I’ve been successful in the careers I’ve chosen, but if I had been offered a program such as this before graduating I don’t think it would have taken this long.”
Registration forms can be picked up at the high school counselors office, or by contacting Kathy Sechrist, 757-685-1399 or by email at email@example.com