On November 13, a panel of strong women from around the state met together in Ledyard High School’s library to discuss all things female. They talked to each other and the audience about the struggles of being a woman in the workforce and gave advice to the attendees to use for the future. The forum was run by three of Ledyard’s clubs: More Than Words, who created the project, along with Amnesty International, and Cupcakes and Causes. The entire library was filled with the unity of women and the sweetness of cupcakes.
Panelists Superintendent Dr. Jennifer Byars, President of Women of Hope Ministry and Ledyard High School teacher Corinne Thompson, Chief Operating Officer of L+M Hospital Denise Fiore, Professor at the Department of Education Leadership at CCSU Dr. Penelope Lisi, Political Director Sarah Gonong, Senior Principal at Vizient, Inc. Kathy Galullo, and Athletic Faculty Manager of Woodrow Wilson Middle School Deborah Petruzzello, delivered powerful responses to the questions that facilitators, Hannah Battle, Nayeli Contreras, and Savannah Houdeshell, asked the panel. Each facilitator respectfully represented one of the three clubs stated previously: Hannah for More Than Words, Nayeli for Amnesty, and Savannah for Cupcakes and Causes. The three, along with teacher Kurt Jannke, organized the forum which inspired young women from not only Ledyard, but other schools to attend the event. Principal Amanda Fagan was also present as the moderator and contributed feedback during the forum as well.
The room buzzed with the sound of future leaders mingled with the sweet scent of cupcakes. There were six questions asked, but the most powerful one asked was the last one: If there was one message you could say to all the girls in the room, what would it be? Each panelist responded with their own unique answers:
Corinne Thompson responded by saying “have a vision, an idea, a goal, and do not let anything prevent you from reaching that goal.”
Deborah Petruzzello left girls with “you have to find your passion. It’s not a straight line you may go all over the place, but once you find it go for it.”
Dr. Penelope Lisi kept it simple stating “you can never go wrong with education, it will serve you well and it will give you credibility.” She then left attendants with the question “What do you want to be known for?”
Sarah Gonong gave an empowering statement: “Say yes to opportunities, if you don’t see them, make them.”
Kathy Gullulo provided “you always need to maintain a high level of caring, compassion, but most importantly morality and ethics.”
Denise Fiore told girls to “give back to others and don’t be afraid to fail.”
Dr. Jennifer Byars concluded with “Be kind to yourself; you are gonna fail and you can’t beat yourself up over it because in the end the person who picks you up is you.”
It is statements like these that filled the forum with inspiration and an air of power. Each of the women present provided their own intelligence and experience to the forum making the night, one to remember. Women need to stick together and it is moments like these that shows that strength. In the words of Mrs. Fagan “fire is lit by someone who saw the strength.” And strength is exactly what this forum had.
**Editors Note: A previous version of this story erroneously stated that YUGA was part of the organization of the panel.**
Sarah Moynihan, Staff Writer
Senior Sarah Moynihan is a staff writer for the 2018-2019 Colonel. She is a member of the LHS volleyball team, Key Club, and one of the co-presidents for Amnesty International. In her free time, she can be caught practicing volleyball, reading, or watching the latest movie. And if you see her in the hallways of school, she is probably laughing at her own joke with her best friend Nayeli by her side.
Mackenzie Peluso, Staff Writer
Sophomore Mackenzie Peluso is a staff writer for the 2018-2019 Colonel. She is a cheerleader and often volunteers for school events. Her goals in life are to learn Italian and watch every Marvel movie in order. You can often see her wearing checkered Vans or a striped sweater.