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High school girls aim for ‘Success and Self-Sufficiency’ at Tusculum

from staff reports

Some healthy cooking.

A ropes course.

Makeup.

And changing a flat tire.

Eighteen high school girls from Carter, Greene and Cocke counties spent last week at Tusculum College assembling the tools they’ll need for success in careers and in life during the school’s first “Women’s Search for Success and Self-Sufficiency” Summer Institute.

Designed as a first-generation college student mentoring program, the week-long program was filled with activities and providing a taste of life away from home — and the intrapersonal skills needed to get along with others in a non-family setting.

The program was hosted and coordinated by Tusculum College’s Talent Search program and was funded through an $11,000 grant from the Women’s Fund of East Tennessee.

Participants were all part of Talent Search, which prepares potential first-generation college students to pursue higher education.

Activities were wide-ranging — from public speaking to minor car maintenance.

Personal habits and choices were addressed in such activities as a health and nutrition session and a seminar about personal finance and budgeting. The exercise wasn’t all academic: participants put their new knowledge into practice with grocery shopping, then cooking a healthy meal.

Professionals from Tusculum led a session on diversity and preparedness, including what to wear to an interview and the type of dress expected in a professional environment.

Participants had another opportunity to put their learning into action.

After learning hair and make-up tips from local professionals, they went shopping for a professional outfit and had sessions on etiquette, manners and presentation and public speaking skills. They then took their etiquette, manners and new outfits to a dinner at the Martha Washington Inn and a play at the Barter Theatre.

On the other end of the preparedness spectrum, one session focused on car maintenance and how to fix minor problems, like a flat tire.

Teamwork was emphasized on the group’s visit to a rope challenge course, and students also provided three hours of community service at local non-profits such as the Humane Society.