Female students connect with local women leaders

Staff Writer

Friday, January 18, 2020

A group of future lady leaders at Rocky Mount Prep School met with women leaders in the community to learn more about what it means to be a woman in a leadership position.

These students — 17 Rocky Mount Prep students in grades ranging from eight to 12 — are members of a newly formed Ladies of Excellence club at Rocky Mount Prep. The kickoff event for the club was held Friday afternoon at the Belmont Lake Clubhouse. This event featured a Future Lady Leaders Roundtable that allowed the students to connect with women in leadership positions in the area.

“We want these scholars to be able to develop mentoring relationships with other women in the community who will be supportive of where they want to go,” said Chaunte Garrett, the head of Rocky Mount Prep.

Garrett said she got an amazing response from most of the women contacted to participate in the event.

“Everyone was excited to participate. Most have already engaged with our school community in some form or fashion,” Garrett said. “We have a couple of parents here, some women from the Chamber of Commerce, someone from our partnership with ECU and our partnership with Teach for America is represented. These woman have all come to wrap their arms around us in different ways.”

Some of the local leaders present included Rebecca Parks of Overman and Parks CPAs; Tina Taylor, founder and CEO of Heritage STEM Camps; Tina Garrett and Desiree Dolberry of the Rocky Mount Chamber of Commerce; and Tia Lucas, chief innovator of Dynamik Learning.

Shonakanika Dawkins, a parent adviser for the Ladies of Excellence club, was instrumental in helping to develop the club. Though she has two sons at the school, she saw a need to inspire the young ladies at the school to achieve their dreams.

“I felt this was a need in the community. The girls need to know that there are people in the community who will rally around them,” Dawkins said. “They need to believe they can be what they want to be. Sometimes they need a little nurturing, like from these ladies who came today and from others who are already involved.”

Sylvia Hill, a counselor at Rocky Mount Prep, said she felt the event and others like it will benefit the students in the development of poise, communication and leadership skills.

“I think this club will impact the scholars a lot because they get to learn how to be successful in the community, and that is what we want,” Hill said. “We want the girls to be able to communicate and learn how to talk with different people in the community. This will also give them a chance to ask questions and decide what they want to be in the future.”

Apryl Terry, a 10th-grade student at the school, said she already is learning from the experience.

“I think it is a really good idea for a young woman to actually be able to come out and talk to people with different jobs. They can connect with some people and possibly something will develop out of that,” Terry said. “It is already helping. I wanted to be able to work on my talking and being able to communicate with people — like not freezing up.”

Garrett said she is excited about what the future holds for the Ladies of Excellence program.

“These girls already know from this event that they have a community of support around them and that they can make anything they want to happen, happen right here in Rocky Mount,” Garrett said.