HOUSTON – March 4, 2019 – Before an audience of hundreds of young women from across Aldine and Spring ISDs on Saturday, Dr. Kimberley Booker became emotional as she shared her vision for the inaugural ‘I Am Beautiful–Female Empowerment Summit.
“I can’t even explain without tears in my eyes how happy I am to see you all,” said Booker, a Spring ISD Instructional Specialist and Aldine ISD trustee. “What my mom did for me, I wanted to do for other young women, and that’s why I started Young Ladies of Elegance.”
The free event, held at Aldine ISD’s Davis High School, launched Women’s History Month and served as the first ever female summit to inform and challenge local young women in high school to become leaders, high achievers and change agents in schools and communities. Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia (TX-29) kicked off the day with words of encouragement and reminded the young women of the power of having a voice.
“Please know that many of us are fighting for you and to make sure that it stays that way, and that we don’t turn back the clocks and change the rules,” said Garcia. “That’s my job in Washington. As long as I’m there, I’m going to continue fighting for you because I want to make sure you all get a fair shot so that you can be whatever you want to be.”
Students from every Spring ISD high school were in attendance and had been selected by their high school counselors to take part in the invitation-only event.
“It is truly an honor for Spring ISD to join Aldine ISD in doing the very first Female Girl Empowerment Summit to talk about what you as young ladies have to offer our district, state and our nation,” said Dr. Lupita Hinojosa, Spring ISD chief of school leadership and student support services. “You’ve heard us talk about what women have previously gone through to make this a better place and to be able to step into the opportunities that they have provided for us.”
Before breaking out into workshop sessions, additional guest speakers shared personal stories of their successes, failures, and hardships to encourage students to make a positive impact in their lives and community. Ashley Turner, executive director of Community Relations at Lone Star College and daughter of Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, shared her personal journey of being in the public spotlight as the First Daughter of the city of Houston.
“With any platform comes criticism –– people trying to put you in a box, trying to tell you what to do, or what standards of beauty you should be,” said Turner. “Everyone will have a perception of what you should do, how you should act, what you should say or not say.”
Turner encouraged the young ladies to embrace their individuality and reminded the audience that beauty comes from within.
“It doesn’t matter if your hair is curly or straight –– you are beautiful not because of how you look, but because of how you are on the inside,” said Turner.
Students also participated in panel discussions and interactive workshops that focused on building healthy relationships, increasing self-esteem, boosting health and wellness, and improving college and career readiness. Attendees heard from women law enforcement officers from Spring ISD Police Department, Aldine ISD Police Department and Houston Police Department, along with Prairie View A&M University’s mentoring organization Let’s Talk SIS and the Omicron Tau Omega chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.
“I think the summit is really good, especially as women, because we face a lot of low self-esteem and aren’t expected to be as good or greater than what we are already expected to do,” said Breana Vargas, a senior at Aldine ISD’s MacArthur High School. “This is a good event for women to find their voice, vocation and really find what they’re meant to be, which is astonishing women.”
Alyssa Lynch, a senior at Spring Early College Academy, says she used the summit as an opportunity to meet new young ladies from different schools and find something in common.
“Being a woman is a very powerful thing,” said Lynch. “There’s a lot that comes with it. It’s about building with women and not trying to break each other down.”