Women leaders nourish students’ confidence while teaching networking skills

The University of Chicago Women’s Board and the Urban Education Institute volunteer committee welcomed nearly 60 young women from the University of Chicago Charter School’s Woodlawn Campus to the Quadrangle Club on Wednesday, May 8 for an opportunity to network with female leaders in Chicago.

The program, titled Pearls with Power Tea, was as much about learning how to network as it was about networking. Nycole Buckner, a counselor at the Woodlawn Campus, emphasized how important it is to nourish confidence and “soft skills.”

“Getting prepared for college requires a lot of things, but it also requires etiquette,” Buckner said. “It requires talking well, networking skills, knowing how to dress. To prepare and do well in college, these students need to learn how to talk to people.”

Eleventh-grader Shanice Deals, said of the opportunity, “I’m a little shy, especially around these powerful women, but talking with them will help me learn how to maneuver with people who know so much more than I do.”

Another 11th-grader, Priscilla Agbeo, was not at all fazed by the challenge of confronting a room full of Chicago leaders. “It’s a breeze,” she said. “I know my worth so I can blend in with these prestigious women. I want to network with them so I can understand how they became successful.”

Some of the women leaders attending the event were Margot Pritzker, chair of the University of Chicago Charter School Board; Liz Thompson, a University of Chicago Trustee; Sharon Coleman, United States district judge on the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois; and Anne Kimball, partner at  Edwards, Wildman Palmer LLP.

The first half hour was spent with the students and volunteers exchanging cards and introductions. Later, the students sat with the adult leaders, who discussed what they were like at the age of 17. Then, the students shared what they hoped to be like at age 30.

The event culminated in the presentation of a pearl necklace to each student in attendance. The necklaces symbolized their successful participation in Polished Pebbles, a local mentoring program that stresses the importance of good communication skills.

Director of the Urban Education Institute Timothy Knowles spoke after the necklaces were presented, placing the importance of the training these students were receiving in context.

“There’s a body of research called resiliency, it looks at the kids who make it with all the odds stacked against them,” Knowles began. “The kids who make it, it turns out, always have people in their lives. That’s the one consistent thing—the ability to build relationships with people who may not talk or act like you, to cross boundaries. Yes, you still have to do homework, but you have to do this, too.”

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Nearly 60 young women attended the Pearls with Power Tea on Wednesday, May 8 to exchange experiences and aspirations for their future success. The University Women’s Board and the Urban Education Institute volunteer committee jointly hosted the event to teach the young women about networking and other "soft skills."

Photo by Jason Smith

Liz Thompson, a University of Chicago Trustee (right), listens to the young women seated at her table at the Pearls with Power Tea. Thompson co-chaired the tea with other Urban Education Institute volunteer committee members Margie Janus, Priscilla Kersten and Alice Sabl, who also chairs the University of Chicago Women's Board.

Photo by Jason Smith

Anne Kimball, Partner with Edward, Wildman Palmer LLP, chats with an attendee from the University of Chicago Charter School, Woodlawn Campus high school.

 

Photo by Jason Smith

Sharon Coleman, United States district judge on the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, presents the young women seated at her table with strands of pearls to mark successful participation in the networking event. 

 

Photo by Jason Smith

Margot Pritzker, Chair of the University of Chicago Charter School Board, attaches a necklace of pearls on one of the Charter School high school students from the Woodlawn Campus. The networking tea provided some mentoring from women leaders, who shared their experiences and advice with the young students at the Quadrangle Club event.

Photo by Jason Smith

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