Female role models inspire students at career day

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - By Jade Storms

An ambitious career day took place on Thursday at all-girls St. Andrew's Priory school, where middle schoolers and ninth graders had the chance to meet career super stars.

The school featured female role models that included a nationally known TV chef, the first female to become a Honolulu firefighter, a missile squadron commander and a legendary state auditor. There was a total 28 speakers on campus that were divided into six panel sessions.

Kathy Perkins is the Director of Institutional Advancement and Alumni Relations at St. Andrews, and was excited about the school's approach to this year's Career Day.

"What we're trying to do is give the girls an opportunity to talk to a variety of women and a few men, who are Priory dads, about various careers that they might be interested in," Perkins said. "We also have Priory graduates that are attorneys, doctors, and commanders in the Air Force. We're just trying to give them a whole different view of the potential available to them."

Among the super-star lineup at the priory included Le Anne Wong, who has a highly rated cable show called "Food Crawl" and was also a finalist on Bravo's Top Chef reality show.

"I think for young people they should have role models that they can look up to and can ask questions," Wong said. "When you're in your early teens you kind of don't know what's going on in the world or all that's out there and it's always good to have somebody who's walked the path and gone through all the hurdles."

The most important message that Wong wanted to convey to young students was to stay positive even in a competitive job market, and above all, to stay in school and study hard.

"All those things in high school that you think are not important like English, Math, and Science really do come in handy later on in life, and I'm a cook so I'm using math and science daily," Wong said."I think there's so many wonderful options out there for the young women of today that you can really make dreams come true."

Students also had the chance to talk with Marion Higa, who retired last year, but was Hawaii's most respected public watchdog who served as a state auditor for 21 years. She took on audits of HTA, the Hawaii Superferry, the state Highways Division and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.

"Career Day is something where students will actually see people in those lines of work, they can see people one on one, and they can find out what it took to get to where they are," Higa said. "I think there's a lot that they'll find out that they'll never get from a classroom."

Higa also emphasized to young girls that you don't always end up where you first started, so it's important to always be open to other options.

Perkins said St. Andrew's selected these role models because they are great examples of women who have broken down barriers in a predominately male dominated career and or are a leader in their field.

"I believe in the motto, "you can't be what you can't see," Perkins said. "And that's why we brought a diverse group of women speakers on campus today