'Girl's Great Race' begins at the finish line
Thirty-two young, wide-eyed, potential graduates of the University recently spent a day racing around campus with no competitive thoughts in mind.
"I came to see what it's like," 16-year-old Mary Tarin said. "I want to go here."
She was a part of Camp BPW: Building Powerful Women, presented by the Business and Professional Women's organization. The camp for girls ages 12 to 16 consisted of members of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northern Nevada, the Children's Cabinet, and The Boys and Girls Club of Truckee Meadows.
"This is the fifth year we've done the camp and the first time ever in the West," said Jamillaah Carmichael, the 2007 Camp BPW Chair. "We wanted to provide young women in Northern Nevada with a safe, nurturing experience and a well-rounded quality program emphasizing fun, friendships, self-esteem, creativity and community service. This particular day-long camp experience enables the campers to discover their full potential and provide them with tools needed to strengthen their identities as young women."
As part of the day's activities, University of Nevada Honors Program students sponsored a "great race" to introduce the girls to some of the campus' accomplished athletes and female faculty in medicine, science, the arts and the humanities.
"We have quite a number of nationally regarded women faculty who are doing incredible work," said Tamara Valentine, director of the Honors Program and Nevada State Coordinator of the American Council on Education's Office of Women in Higher Education. "When the girls meet our faculty, we hope they will choose to come here to pursue a great education that can open all kinds of meaningful career and lifetime opportunities for them."
Valentine said 60 per cent of the University's Honors Program students are women, and their majors range from biochemistry and international business to mechanical engineering and physics. "Their average GPA is over 3.7."
The girls began their early summer morning a bit sleepy-eyed and dubious. They listened to introductions and participated in a program called the Reality Store, which is designed to teach basic skills in financial and career planning, goal setting and decision making. During their lunch of pizza and salad, they listened to three honors students talk about their achievements and future plans.
" I couldn't have come here without scholarships," said Deanne Leonard, a recent graduate with a degree in psychology, the University's Spring 2007 Herz Gold Medal Award winner, which is presented to the graduating senior with the highest grade point average. The senior scholar, also a winner on "The Price is Right" (a 2007 P.T. Cruiser), is headed to medical school.
"You have to live your dreams and work really hard. I want to be a surgeon, so I spent one summer creating diagrams and charts and making up anatomy tests for myself. Now I'm job shadowing some actual doctors and really learning and enjoying it."
Anneka Hooft and Imani Hahn, also Honors students, echoed Leonard's feelings. Hooft is a recent biochemistry graduate and is also on her way to the University's med school. Hahn is in her fourth year of undergraduate studies in biology and Spanish and has becoming a doctor in her sights as well.
Then the "race" was on and the girls split into groups. The agenda included a visit to the medical school, the Keck Earth Science and Mineral Engineering Museum, a session of jewelry-making, a meeting with women's soccer coach Terri Patraw and executive associate athletic director Cindy Fox and some hands-on experience with magnetic poetry.
By late afternoon, the girls joined horticulture experts in the University's Cooperative Extension program at two rose gardens on the campus. The project was to plant additional roses in the University's Honor Court and in the Merriam A. Brown Rose Garden in front of Getchell Library. Many of the girls said they had never planted anything before, so Master Gardner Wendy Hanson of the Cooperative Extension program was on hand to give advice.
"The University was designated a state arboretum by the 1985 Nevada Legislature," Hanson said. "With more than 450 roses in four gardens on campus, it's important to know roses around the world are crucial for the environment and are also used in medicine in many herbal therapies and are used in cosmetics, too." Hanson also explained a new plaque was installed in the Merriam A. Brown Rose Garden to commemorate the occasion.
When asked about her future again, 16-year-old Mary Tarin said she could see pursuing a career in law enforcement and criminal justice. Tarin currently attends a charter school in Reno and hopes to arrange a trip back to campus soon.
The day ended with an awards dinner and special speaker, Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority's President and CEO, Ellen Oppenheim.
The special camp was supported by BPW/USA, the University of Nevada's Honors Program and Committee on the Status of Women, Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority, City of Reno Mayor's Office, John Ascuaga's Nugget Casino Resort Hotel, and Franklin Covey.