Kofi Montzka and Stephanie Petersen, staff members from Minnesota School of Business-Brooklyn Center, showed a group of young women at Project DIVA in North Minneapolis positive avenues to travel down in their futures, focusing on career options. Project DIVA strives to provide mentoring and education to young women between the ages of 13-19. Every Saturday, the organization has an organized program, and the first Saturday of the month is career day.
Montzka, a paralegal degree program chair at Minnesota School of Business (MSB), began her presentation with an inspiring story about how she came to be who she is today.
“I had many challenges relating to my family when I was growing up,” Montzka said. “I tell young people about my life in an effort to inspire them. When I was in high school I was introduced to attorneys who I could relate to and I thought, ‘If they can do it, so can I.'”
All of the girls were extremely engaged in Montzka’s paralegal presentation; it was obvious that they could relate to her. Montzka was honest and funny but found a way to be serious when necessary. She discussed the different areas of law, making sure to emphasize areas of law that the young women might now know about. In the presentation, she incorporated comedy clips, a video clip about a law student who benefited from knowing his Fourth Amendment Rights, and a vignette about prenuptial agreements that her own students had created.
Montzka wrapped up her presentation with a debate about hate crimes and bullying. She had the young women engage in a debate about whether an actual case should be considered a hate crime or not. Montzka and Petersen were both impressed with the girls’ level of participation.
Petersen, MSB’s massage therapy program chair, and four of her students gave an interactive presentation about massage therapy. Each of Petersen’s students introduced herself, shared some background on why she got into massage, and explained what she likes about the field. The young girls heard four completely different stories about when and why each massage therapy student decided to go to college.
After discussing what massage is and who might need a massage, Petersen led the young ladies in a couple of exercises. The girls were able to feel on each other where some muscles are located and learn a couple of techniques to use on headaches. The massage students gave chair massages for the last half hour, and the young girls loved it!
Both program chairs could tell that the girls took the career day seriously.
Petersen said, “Of all the events we’ve done over the years, I think this one was my favorite. I was so impressed with these young ladies. They cooperated and participated so enthusiastically. They were very smart and had a lot of fun with us. I think we ended up being more grateful for the opportunity than they were because their attentiveness made us feel so special.
Montzka added, “I really enjoyed meeting the young women. They were incredibly smart, motivated, and funny. I was inspired by them.”
Project DIVA (Dignity ~ Integrity ~ Virtue ~ Available) provides mentoring and education to increase self-esteem, self-worth, and self-regulation of young women, 13-19. Organized in February 2008, Project DIVA’s goal is to educate and mentor young ladies on how to maneuver through dangerous cycles of teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases while developing healthy habits of academia, emotional, social, and fiscal responsibility.