Submitted by Kathy Trujillo

Courtesy Photo
More than 40 young women participated in workshops put on by local Soroptimist service organization earlier this month.

Members of the local Soroptimist service organization and trainers from the Sierra Nevada Region Soroptimist club offered two pieces of training to Hawthorne Junior High School and Mineral County High School students on Sept. 12.

More than 40 young women (representing 90 percent of the female student population in grades 7-9) participated in the day-long workshops, which started with “Break These Chains Live Free” human trafficking prevention. Nancy Becker facilitated the human trafficking portion of the program and she outlined the “ugly truth” of human trafficking, shared stories about victims and explained how trafficker’s work on victims. For many in the audience, it was their first exposure to the statistics regarding trafficking and the prevalence of the activity in Nevada. Curtis Schlepp, former juvenile probation officer and school resource officer offered information from a law enforcement perspective, and students were provided handouts with online resources and helpful phone numbers.

Elaine Cassell facilitated the Dream It, Be It workshop which began with the creation of dream boards. Mineral County School Superintendent Karen Watson provided the supplies for the boards and local Soroptimist members helped with the cutouts and stickers needed for each student to create their board. Mrs. Bea’ Whitney, MCHS Alumni and graphic artist presented her own version of the dream board as an example of how it can be a creative endeavor. Ninth grade student Shannon Straw stated that she enjoyed the dream board creation, “It was fun.” Every young lady created a board that was the springboard for the rest of the workshop.

As the students began to explore careers, a worksheet was completed that helped them identify essential work values. For example, the students were asked how important it was to them to have creative expression, influence, balance, teamwork or independence in their future jobs. This inventory then helped them identify career types and possible professions based on their answers.

The first guest speaker, Kris Stinson from the Human Resources Department at SOC LLC, discussed her personal career choices and future goals. Stinson explained to the students that it’s okay to change your mind and to try new things. She was also a keynote speaker during the lunch break and offered personal words of wisdom to the students, including the importance of finding mentors.

Christine Hoferer, Mineral County Commissioner also spoke during the lunch break. Hoferer stated that she was the fourth woman commissioner in Mineral County since 1911. She discussed how she moved to Hawthorne and how a career in public service has been very satisfying even though it was not part of her original plan.

The group then heard from Tamiya Ferguson, Mineral County Public Health Nurse. She discussed her long road to formal education and how she overcame many obstacles as a young woman. Her final words to the students were “I’m here for you . . . please reach out if you need anything.” Ferguson’s presence throughout the workshop offered reassurance to the youth about both the trafficking and career exploration topics.

After a hearty lunch provided by the local Soroptimist Club, Cassell continued with the Dream It, Be It modules and helped the students understand how to create achievable goals. She outlined the SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-Bound) method of goal setting and not only did the young women set goals, but they wrote down action steps necessary to achieve their goals.

Theresa Schlepp, who recently accepted a position for the Eleventh Judicial District Court and the juvenile probation department, talked about ways the young women could live their dreams. She spoke about how important it is to embrace change and to be a lifelong learner. The importance of family was highlighted as Schlepp talked about how important her daughter, Brea, was to her and the influence her mother had on her life.

As the day concluded the topics of Failure to Success and Putting Dreams into Action were offered. Katie Bradt, a ninth grader at MCHS, said she enjoyed the human knot activity. “It helped us understand teamwork and interconnectedness,” stated Bradt. Each student received swag bags provided by the Dream Team in cooperation with the Mineral County Convention Authority, Barrick Mines, Mary Kay Cosmetics and Gear Up. Thank you cards were given to each participant the next school day thanking the students for being attentive throughout the day and showing respect to the presenters and speakers. The card included a gift certificate for free ice cream to Mr. Beane’s.

Local Soroptimist members who provided meals, oversight and support include: President Priscilla V. Martin; Treasurer Nancy Black and board member Carol Barton and members Bernie Presnell, Kendall Harris, Susan Morrow, Jeanette Cunningham, Jean Peterson, Doris Brooks, Agnes Dockrey, Sharon Hubbard and Anna Morgan. The Dream Team members who provided swag and support were Breanna Hatfield, president and Michelle Hudson, vice president.

Hawthorne Junior High School/Mineral County High School staff and students who were instrumental to the success of the program included: Catrinna Berginnis, Holly Pellett, Sofia Castillo-Trujillo, Abby Dennis, Ngahina Musselman, school district IT and maintenance staff.