Above, Mayor Eric Garcetti snaps a selfie with sisters Lynne and Gio Kim at the inaugural Young Women’s Assembly. More than 300 L.A. Unified students attended the event.

KCAL9/KCBS2 reporter Kristine Lazar, second from left, poses with students Aniyah Pleasant, Andrea Orellana and Jacquelyne Pandurro at the Young Women’s Assembly.

Hundreds of bright and promising female students from L.A. Unified high schools participated this week in Mayor Eric Garcetti’s inaugural Young Women’s Assembly, bringing with them their hopes and dreams as the city’s next generation of leaders.

During the daylong series of workshops, panel discussions and leadership training sessions, students received advice and, more importantly, inspiration from women leaders in the business, entertainment, finance, technology and public sectors.

“Women have always been a driving force in L.A.’s growth and prosperity, and we are strengthening that legacy by empowering women and girls in our time,” said Garcetti, who addressed the audience along with his wife, Amy Elaine Wakeland. “This conference is about taking stock of where we are and setting new goals to build on the momentum that this moment in history has put before us.”

Andrea Orellano, a 17-year-old senior at Fremont High School, was among the students selected by Local District administrators to attend the conference at the University of Southern California. She was swept up by the excitement of the day and inspired by the speakers to fulfill her long-term goal of becoming a cardiovascular surgeon.

L.A. Unified students, from left, Gio Kim, Madeline Keipp and Jordyn Weiber attend the inaugural conference.

“There was so much energy here,” she said. “Everyone was sharing, encouraging and confident.  One thing I learned is that you can have some fear in what you are doing but still exude confidence.”

Aniyah Pleasant, 16, a senior at Middle College High School, said she was grateful for the real-world advice offered during panel discussion, like information on how to use social media to build their professional profile.

“All these women, in their successful jobs, helped us understand how we need to position ourselves for success and land those jobs,” said Pleasant, who wants to become an obstetrician.

Women’s achievements, challenges and opportunities are spotlighted during the conference at USC.

Jacqueline, 17, from Reseda High School hopes to become a pedestrian and found so much encouragement during the day.  “This has been a great experience, not just for me, but for everyone here.  We have learned that if you dream it you can achieve it.”

Garcetti was introduced by Gio Kim, 17, from Eagle Rock High School and a member of the Mayor’s Youth Council was honored to introduce the mayor to the podium for his remarks.

“It was a great environment that supported and encouraged young women to break social barriers and to achieve whatever they want,” she said. “It was a place of inspiration that reflected the struggle of women in the past years. Every year, women advance more in society.
“Whether it be on the playground or at work, women have the power to be all that they are. No none should be able to stop us from fulfilling our dreams.”

L.A. Unified students also heard from one of the District’s highest-ranking women, Chief Academic Officer Frances Gipson, who oversees the Division of Instruction.

“As students embracing today’s experience,” Dr. Gipson said, “don’t forget the power of embracing  what you learn today and what you will provide to others here, with family, with community, and your LA Unified community.”