University News

WNE University Partners with Girls Inc. to Present TeenCon 2022

Published: August 22, 2022 | Categories: All News
Girls Inc. participants wearing red t-shirts

Over 50 hand-chosen teens from four Girls Inc. northeast affiliates (Albany, Holyoke, Long Island, and Philadelphia) joined together in an inaugural three-day conference for rising 11th and 12th grade teens on August 12-14. The conference, held on the Western New England University campus, aimed to introduce the teens to a hands-on/minds-on weekend of post-secondary discovery and inspire them to venture out of their comfort zones.

WNE's Assistant Vice President for Marketing and Communications, Mercedes Maskalik, welcomed the group and invited participants to "Try new things, and grow into the person you are meant to be. When you are confident and understand who you are, you become more effective collaborators who go on to lead more purposeful and productive lives." Maskalik added "At Western New England University, we ask our students to discover their 'why' - their purpose, their passion, and what skills and talents they can bring to leave the world better than they found it."

The conference was kicked off Friday evening with an inspiring keynote presentation by Royelles - Gaming for Girls CEO, Founder and Chief Girl Crusader,  Mukami Kinoti Kimotho, who is "leading the charge in creating an inclusive metaverse anchored in fierce female avatars and real-life super(s)heroes in science, tech, engineering, the arts and math," according to her bio.

Mukami is driven by the belief that everyone deserves to be a bold, fearless, and undaunted architect of their destiny. She is at the forefront of a movement to create a safe, inclusive metaverse that creates value for young gamers beyond entertainment by tackling some of the greatest challenges facing Gen Z and Alpha around mental health, self-esteem, and limiting mindsets that are disproportionately impacting girls, particularly those from underserved communities.

TeenCon 2022 offered over 25 conference blocks including College-Themed workshops, Life/Trade-Themed workshops, as well as opportunities to explore personal brand development, resume writing, and self-care. Participants also had the opportunity to experience college life by living in the dorms, eating in University Commons, and touring the 215-acre campus including the 1,500-seat Golden Bear Stadium.

Alumni of Girls Inc. of the Valley (Holyoke) Janira Portorreal, Katelynn Cruz, and Amy Bonilla shared their success stories and what being part of Girls, Inc. has meant to them.

Girls Inc. inspires all girls to be strong, smart, and bold. Girls Inc.'s comprehensive approach to whole girl development equips girls to navigate gender, economic, and social barriers to grow up healthy, educated, and independent. Girls Inc. responds to the changing needs of girls through research-based programs and public education efforts that empower girls to understand, value, and assert their rights.

"We are thrilled to have Girls, Inc. on campus this weekend," said WNE Executive Director for Admissions Outreach and Recruitment, Chris Wystepek, who presented a workshop and was on hand to answer questions. "Events like this help students to discover their unique value proposition and define their space in the world. These are important tools for success and happiness in whatever they choose to do."