Empowered women empowering young women

Published 11:25 am Friday, December 23, 2011

Jessica Vance, Chianti Cleggett and Noelle Cooper are empowered women empowering others. (Contributed)

By BETH CHAPMAN / Community Columnist

Three young women have made a positive and powerful impact empowering young women in Alabama to reach their dreams.

In 2008, Chianti Cleggett shared her dream of starting a conference to empower teenage girls with her friend, Jessica Vance.

Both young women were unemployed when they decided it was time to get started on fulfilling her dream. They did, and three years later the rest is history.

Vance invited friend Noelle Cooper to help them.

The trio has since orchestrated three conferences and is planning the fourth one for March 2012.

“The cause strikes dear to my heart since I was the first in my family to graduate from college. I was clueless on how to apply, where to apply.” said Vance.  She said she didn’t know the difference in the University of Alabama and Alabama State.

Vance was either lucky, worked hard or both because she ended up graduating Summa Cum Laude from Auburn with a bachelor’s in the science of marketing and an international minor in human studies.

Not all young girls are so fortunate or have the information available to them to do the same.

Vance, Cleggett and Cooper wanted to educate young girls about their options and the need to become educated and productive women. They wanted to equip, encourage and empower them to do so.

Their first conference was held at the McWane Center, hosting 50 girls who were chosen to learn about science, college planning and financial planning.

Each year the topics change but always include college planning to teach the attendees the importance of furthering their education, dreaming big dreams and making them come true.

This year’s conference will be held on March 31 at Regions Park. There will be one keynote speaker and various breakout sessions such as entrepreneurship, community service and healthy living. Entertainment, a catered lunch and a goodie bag are included.

Girls ages 14-19 can apply to attend and 75-100 will be chosen for next year’s conference at no expense to them.

Monetary awards are given to attendees in the fields of community service, arts and entertainment, entrepreneurship and empowerment.

“Bringing girls from all areas of Alabama together and allowing them to dream bigger than their biggest dreams — now that is fulfilling,” said Vance.

To learn more about the 2012 conference, please visit YoungWomensEmpowermentConference.com.

Beth Chapman, Alabama’s secretary of state, is a Shelby County resident and writes a weekly column for the Shelby County Reporter. You can reach her at bethchapman@bellsouth.net.