You are never too young to start thinking about your future.
Those are the words of 13-year-old Eddita Pessima, a seventh grader at Lakelands Park Middle School in Gaithersburg.
They are also words of advice students from across the county heard at the Preparing for Success Fall Forum held Nov. 17 at Montgomery College in Rockville.
Eddita and her friend Yenyfer Alites, 12, also a seventh grader at Lakelands Park, were having lunch halfway through the daylong seminar sponsored by the Montgomery County Women’s Bar Foundation.
“This is a great opportunity to see what you can be when you grow up, so I went for it,” Eddita said.
Students from all county high schools, public and private, were invited to attend. About 170 students attended the forum, which is planned for girls but included a handful of boys. Even some middle school students who heard about the forum from their school counselor attended.
“We don’t turn anyone away,” Savage said.
Saturday’s seminar was the 12th annual Preparing for Success event.
Circuit Court Judge Katherine D. Savage has been involved in the program since the beginning.
“I do it because I love this population of high school-age kids.” Savage said. “It’s important to give [them] concrete things as they go through high school.”
Workshops offered during the day taught students how to get a job and keep it; how to dress for a job; cyber-safety; looking at community college and beyond; and a presentation of “Fun & Amazing Jobs.”
That workshop included presentations from a veterinary technician from the National Zoo, courtroom clerks, a deputy sheriff and women business owners.
“We want to go beyond the usual doctor, lawyer,” Savage said.
Marenda Kyle, 15, a junior at Gaithersburg High School, said she tries to take advantage of every opportunity to help her prepare for the future.
“I came to talk to people about the college process,” said Marenda, who hopes to be an elementary school teacher. “I thought it was a really good program.”
Eleni Hallas, 17, a senior at Walt Whitman High School, Bethesda, said she went to the seminar because it looked like a good opportunity to learn more about what was ahead for her.
“Overall, the whole seminar has been helpful,” Eleni said.
The day included a new workshop this year — one for parents.
Deborah and Vantura Henderson of Silver Spring attended that workshop while their daughter, Vivian, 17, a senior at James Hubert Blake High School, Silver Spring, followed the student schedule.
Topics for parents included sources for financial aid; keeping children safe by knowing their friends; being aware of bullying; and computer safety, Deborah Henderson said.
“Everything was presented in such a nice way, it was very thought-provoking,” she said.
Attorney Rebecca Nitkin has been an event sponsor for all 12 years.
“This is vey important,” she said. “You need to get the message out that they can survive and they can do anything they set their heart on.”