Summer is when some high school students sleep in, relax on the beach and have fun with friends.
But for 29 Chatham, Bryan and Liberty County girls, taking a week to hear from professionals about preparing for their future was more fun than the beach.
WTOC news anchor Dawn Baker has founded a nonprofit called Dawn’s Daughter. The organization aims to encourage teenage girls to reach their potential and develop tools to be leaders.
Two girls from Liberty County, Cecilia Taylor and Sequoia Eldridge, participated in the inaugural Leadership Academy at the Savannah Arts Academy from June 13 to 17.
Taylor, a rising junior at Liberty County High School, heard about the organization’s academy from school counselor Debra Motley. Motley encouraged her to apply because she saw Taylor’s potential, even though at first Taylor did not see it in herself.
"It seemed like a really great idea, and it was interesting how she saw me as a leader," Taylor said. "And I did see myself as a leader, but I didn’t know if I was going to be a strong one. And after this experience, I know I can be."
Many of the girls agreed that the academy was helpful. During the academy, they heard from leaders, business owners and professionals, including Chatham County Clerk of Superior Court-elect Tammie Mosley, model and Savannah State University senior Shauni Rawls and Mackey Linton, founder of School Kids Against Bullying.
The speakers’ topics ranged from financial planning and preparing for college to walking with confidence and using social media.
Eldridge, a rising Bradwell Institute junior, found out about the academy from her church’s youth pastor. The next day at school, she asked a guidance counselor about it, and learned six other girls had already applied.
"Maybe it’s going to be something I can use in the future that will help me to be more of a leader than I already am," she said.
In the future, Baker said she hopes to have a shuttle between Liberty and Chatham County so more local girls can participate.
Taylor and Eldridge said the academy was amazing. They encouraged other girls to attend.
"You get to know Dawn Baker," Eldridge said, "and she is going to lead you in the right path."
Dawn’s Daughter will accept applications for the 2017 Leadership Academy next spring. Ninth- and 10th-grade girls should see their guidance counselor if they would like to participate.
"The Dawn’s Daughter Leadership Academy is pretty much the best way to go in being a leader," Taylor said. "And as you write the notes down keep them and use them throughout your life."
Dawn’s Daughter is on Twitter @dawns_daughter and Instagram @dawns_daughternonprofit.