Second annual PYLUSD Women in Industry event promotes themes of confidence and perseverance to future leaders

Women in Industry panelists and student moderators pose for a photo on stage.Women in Industry panelists and student moderators pose for a photo on stage.

On Tuesday, October 16, the Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District (PYLUSD) hosted the second annual Women in Industry event, an inspirational experience geared towards empowering the next generation of leaders through future-ready learning.

A large group of students, families, community members, and District employees gathered in the PYLUSD Performing Arts Center (PAC) in order to learn from this year’s respected panel of female captains of industry who represent diverse professional sectors.

The evening began with a video compilation of advice and quotes from last year’s panelists including Deputy Superintendent, Candy Plahy. Quickly following, a powerful video outlined the enormous impact that women inventors have on the world including Maria Pereira who made heart surgery adhesive, Ada Lovelace who made the first computer algorithm, Yvonne Brill who made satellite propulsion, and so many more.

PYLUSD teacher, Susan Sawyer, then welcomed the auditorium and thanked honored guests in attendance such as Board of Education members, Executive Cabinet members, and various District and school site administrators. The event’s emcee, Robin Osborn, who served as a panelist at last year’s Women in Industry event, then introduced the seven PYLUSD Career Technical Education (CTE) academy and pathway high school students that served as hosts and moderators for the evening.

This included Kylie Smith from El Camino Real High School, Krista Eliot from El Dorado High School, Caitlin Dempsey from Esperanza High School, Hannah Frey from Parkview School, Lizbeth Silva and Shea Slonkosky from Valencia High School, and Sarah Chen from Yorba Linda High School. Ms. Dempsey then had the honor to introduce the evening’s keynote speaker, NASA Engineer, Deidre Healey.

Caitlin Dempsey.

Caitlin Dempsey.

Healey took the stage as the 2014 launch of NASA’s Orion spacecraft played for audience members to witness. Healey reminisced on the day Orion launched, and also shared about her journey as a young girl mesmerized by space to a successful aerospace engineering executive.

“I had failures along the way, and there were setbacks. All of you will face these kinds of challenges at one time or another in your lives,” she shared. “But you preserve. You get through it, and wow, is it worth it.”

Healey ended her keynote address with words of encouragement. She was met with a loud round of applause.

Keynote speaker, DeeDee Healey.

Keynote speaker, DeeDee Healey.

The conference panelists and student moderators then took the stage for brief introductions and to begin the Q & A portion of the evening. Panelists included Healey, Amy Kaufman, Terri Giamarino, Lindy Sum, Katie Bongiovanni, Shannon Alfaro, Natalie Garcia-Montoya, Julie Farbaniec, Maryann Garger, Gina Woullard, and Savina Dhupar.

The question and answer portion of the evening began with a speed round question asking panelists to answer, “What did you want to be when you grew up?” The panelists’ answers ranged from lawyer to teacher to detective to race car driver, as shared by Healey.

The students then went on to prompt individual panelists with individualized questions such as, “What helps you keep your organization on the cutting edge?” and “What strategies might help recruit more young women into the work force?”

Question after question, the crowd listened attentively in order to absorb the thoughts, experiences, and advice that the panelists so eloquently shared. Following all of the individualized and speed round questions, the panelists received a large round of applause and cheers from the crowd.

Sawyer then thanked the panelists, students, and various individuals in attendance once more. Sawyer also presented two lucky students in the audience with a brand new Google Chromebook donated by event sponsor, USA Softball of Southern California. The crowd exited the auditorium to enjoy a small reception with baked goods prepared by the Esperanza Culinary Arts program.

Following the event, strong feelings of confidence and determination could be felt beaming from all individuals, both women and men, who attended.

The second annual PYLUSD Women in Industry event could not be made possible without the willingness of the panelists, students, and a large committee of District personnel including Dr. Nancy Watkins and Susan Sawyer.

Event sponsors included Career Girls, The Traction Expert, USA Softball, and the R.E.A.C.H. Foundation.

To watch a replay of the entire event, please follow the link below.

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