“Celebrate, Connect, & Inspire.” On March 6th, 2020, five female EHHS students: Doreen Alberino, Avarose Anastasio, Stephania Korenovsky, Amy Nieto, and Naiiya Patel were invited to attend the Women and Girls’ Day at the Capitol field trip. The trip was in celebration of International Women’s Day. The day was full of exciting events based on engaging young girls.
From EHHS to Hartford, CT, the students were curious about what the day would hold. The first step after check-in included opening messages from Lieutenant Governor, Susan Bysiewicz; Attorney General, William Tong; State Treasurer, Shawn Wooden; CT Budget Chief, Melissa Mccaw; and Executive Director of the Commission on Woman, Children, and Seniors, Steven Hernandez. They greeted 150 high school juniors and seniors and women leaders from multiple professions. Each speaker discussed the importance of women working in different fields, including the CT state government. Lieutenant Governor Bysiewzc started by acknowledging the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment. She mentioned the importance of young females voting in the Connecticut state primary and the 2020 presidential election. Their remarks set students on the right note for the day!
Walking into the Hall of the House of Representatives brought smiles to everyone's faces. It was a truly stunning experience to sit in the same seats as real legislators. Ms. Liz Krebs from Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame led a presentation about important women in the suffrage movement from Mary Seymour to Alice Paul. While waiting for the House Minority Leader, Ms. Themis Klarides, female leaders within the audience led an impromptu discussion about themselves in their fields. Moved by the message of empowerment, college students to educational instructors talked about their struggles in male-dominated fields. The main activity of the hour was the voting simulation. The room was split into two sides, one representative of men in the 1920s and one of the women in the 1920s. Only the male side was allowed to vote on the question, “Should women be allowed to vote?” The exercise demonstrated the struggles women faced having their voices taken from them. Lastly, Ms. Klarides lectured on her experience in the male-dominated field of politics. She spoke to the young women in the room and encouraged them to find a mentor who they could depend on.
Career/Health & Safety Fair
Next on the schedule was the Career/Health & Safety Fair. Thirty different organizations provided information about critical services for women and girls. There were dozens of recruiters from a variety of professional fields where women are traditionally underrepresented. The girls were given the option to explore careers in coding, actuarial science, engineering, and construction. One of the tables, the Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine provided high school and college students information on internships based around genomic medicine. Junior Doreen Alberino found the fair to be the most exciting aspect of the trip. She claims, “There were so many different places for me to visit. Each table gave so much information in such little time and let me look at all these different fields that I hadn’t thought about before.”
Girls With Impact
For the last event of the day, we went back to the Hall of House of Representatives. CEO and founder of Girls With Impact, Ms. Jennifer Openshaw, prepared a breakout session in creating a solution for a problem within our communities. Students were first asked to brainstorm ideas within their interests, passions, and skills. From there, they found a ‘need’ within those skills. The idea behind the breakout was to turn a passion into an impact and learn how to successfully launch their idea with the help of Girls With Impact. Through collaborative work with our neighbors, we reviewed each other's ideas and gave feedback. The breakout ended with everyone creating a vision statement for their own project; a concise statement that would capture the vision of our ventures in the next 5 years.
Developing these ideas took a lot of thought and required students to be passionate about what they wanted to create. The topics ranged from helping undocumented immigrants to raising awareness about teenage mental health. Within EHHS, junior Stephania Korenovsky has begun the process of making her idea a reality. Stephania during the breakout session planned on creating a campaign to raise awareness about Ukrainian dance culture using social media platforms; “I wanted to show off a meaningful part of my culture that I feel like isn’t widely known in my community whatsoever.”
Despite COVID-19 canceling the remainder of the Ukrainian dance season, Stephania still “[Tries] to fit dance into my life every day from something as simple as practicing at home. Even though so many of our events are canceled, I still hope to achieve my goal.”
Every activity of the day was based around engaging girls in their community. The trip provided resources to young girls but beyond that was a memorable day. The excitement of the Capitol was a truly unique experience!