A Life-Changing Experience: Girls’ Career Institute

Douglass Residential College on the Rutgers University Campus was abuzz with 185 enthusiastic high school students from all parts of NJ at the 73rd annual Girls’ Career Institute (GCI). The excitement was thanks to the yearly program sponsored by any of 130 local women’s clubs affiliated with the NJ State Federation of Women’s Clubs (NJSFWC).

This year’s delegates, who are completing their junior year in high school, arrived Monday, June 3rd to experience “college life” for a few days. Delegates were selected based on their interest in gaining insight into attending college and learning about various career options.

Participants attended lectures and workshops led by a diverse group of New Jersey professionals and had a taste of dorm life and food served in the dining hall. During free time, delegates participated in such things as Zumba, swimming, crafts, and service projects. The largest service project was learning about and preparing kits for “Days for Girls”.

After-dinner activities included a Talent Show and Spirit Night. Closing ceremonies were attended by many parents and included a Fashion Show and a performance by the GCI Chorus. All activities provided a wonderful opportunity to network with other young women from throughout the state, potentially helping them develop long-term friendships.

Delegates from previous GCI experiences had this to say about their mini – college attendance:

“GCI was something that I can only describe in one word, “ineffable.” Ineffable means “too great or extreme to be expressed in words. I didn’t feel empowered as a woman. Going through my daily life, I would take things for granted that women have been fighting for every day. I went to GCI and that all changed. The seminars and speakers were so inspiring. Being a woman in this day and age is something to be proud of, and I never saw that before GCI.”

“I can’t stress enough how much of a positive experience I was able to have being in the GCI program. Thank you for giving me this opportunity that led to enlightenment.…that led me to being comfortable in the choices I make and being confident with myself. This experience will forever be in my memories and will affect the decisions I make concerning college and how I see myself.”

“Not only did I make amazing connections with housemothers and fellow delegates, I discovered my uniqueness, learned that I am strong, a leader and am passionate about pursuing a career in law and politics thanks to the GCI speaker.”

A GCI alumna provided this advice to this year’s GCI attendees: “Put everything you have into this opportunity and get everything you can out of it because it is life changing.”

GCI 2020 will be June 1-4. Local clubs wishing to sponsor a girl should watch for sponsorship forms in September. Sponsorships are due at Headquarters in January.