Jennifer Bugay, Yampa Valley Bank vice-president and operations officer, speaks to a group of about 10 eighth-grade girls Thursday during the annual Girls to Women career conference at the Holiday Inn of Craig. The Boys & Girls Club of Craig hosts the event with help from a committee of women from the community.

Photo by Bridget Manley

Jennifer Bugay, Yampa Valley Bank vice-president and operations officer, speaks to a group of about 10 eighth-grade girls Thursday during the annual Girls to Women career conference at the Holiday Inn of Craig. The Boys & Girls Club of Craig hosts the event with help from a committee of women from the community.

Girls to Women gives students a glimpse into career possibilities

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Quotable

“If we can start to open some of those doors, or even show them that those doors exist and they can open them for themselves, what a leg up they’ll have.”

— Dana Duran, Girls to Women career conference committee member, about what she hopes eighth-grade girls learn from the annual event

When Dana Duran was a girl, she believed she could grow up to be one of four things: a doctor, lawyer, teacher or a blue-collar worker.

As she learned later, though, her career opportunities were more varied than she was ever led to believe.

“There’s millions of options, and I didn’t figure that out until I went to college,” said Duran, Boys & Girls Clubs of Northwest Colorado executive director.

She hoped the Girls to Women career conference Thursday helped local eighth-grade girls discover a wealth of career options at an earlier age.

“If we can start to open some of those doors, or even show them that those doors exist and they can open them for themselves, what a leg up they’ll have,” she said. “What an opportunity to be more prepared and to have a successful life.”

Duran and other Girls to Women committee members helped put on the annual event in conjunction with the Boys & Girls Club of Craig. About 70 girls attended the conference, which has been an annual event for nearly 10 years.\

Roughly 25 local women spoke about their careers in a range of fields, from health care and education to finance and animal science, during the daylong conference at the Holiday Inn of Craig.

The event was designed “really to push (students) outside of their comfort zone, to ask them to have an open mind and explore other careers and options, (and) just for them to see that there’s a whole world available to them if they just take advantage of it,” Duran said.

This year, organizers added new elements to help eighth-grade girls prepare for adult life.

An etiquette lesson before lunch taught the right and wrong way to use a fork, knife, spoon and other table wear, while a leadership component, complete with a personality test and a game, was designed to help girls “learn about themselves,” Duran said.

A “Dress for Success” presentation helped students learn the basics of professional attire.

Students came prepared, many sporting skirts or slacks and high-heeled shoes.

Teaching girls how to dress professionally — and, by extension, how to present themselves well — was another key component of the event, Duran said.

Kandee Dilldine, a Girls to Women committee member and co-owner of KS Kreations Craft Store and Bakery in Craig, has been involved with the annual conference for longer than she can remember, she said.

Her family encouraged her to explore different career opportunities when she was growing up.

Eventually, her life’s path led her to a short stint as a stay-at-home mother, which she believes is just as valid as pursuing a full-time career, she said.

“There’s nothing wrong with being a stay-at-home mom,” she said. “If you can do it, I think it’s great.”

Yet Dilldine hopes the conference helps students realize a full range of other possibilities await if they choose to explore them.

“I think it’s important that girls know what’s available to them,” she said.

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