Northwestern students discuss college, self-respect at Evanston forum


Jeanne Kuang/The Daily Northwestern

Panelists Jessica Gorman, Grace Carmichael, Dena Shibib, Christine Newton and Darlene Reyes speak to Evanston young women about health, friends, college and living well at the Young Women's Mentoring Luncheon at the Lorraine H. Morton Civic Center.

Jeanne Kuang, Reporter

Two Northwestern students were among the participants at a Saturday forum to help young Evanston women develop plans for their futures.

Medill senior Ryan Arrendell moderated the event, held at the Lorraine H. Morton Civic Center,  2100 Ridge Ave. Weinberg sophomore Darlene Reyes served on the panel, which discussed advice for local teen girls on a variety of topics including growing up, attending college and staying healthy.

Other panelists at the Fleetwood-Jourdain Center’s inaugural Young Women’s Mentoring Luncheon included Chicago teacher Jessica Gorman, Evanston Police Department Det. Grace Carmichael, medical resident Dena Shibib and nonprofit worker Christine Newton.

Panelists discussed  interpersonal relationships and the importance of self-respect. Gorman and Shibib both told stories of unhealthy, one-sided friendships in high school and college.

“It was hard trying to find that voice that I felt that I didn’t have,” Gorman said. She said she was able to choose friends who cared about her after “growing up and becoming more confident.”

The panelists also answered questions from those in the audience, and several attendees asked about balancing schoolwork and a social life, as well as the difficulty of deciding on and changing majors.

Reyes described her views on college as a current student and explained that she chose a school far from home to explore her options.

“I need to focus on me,” Reyes said. “I needed to discover who I was.”

Several Evanston Township High School students in attendance said they took pieces of the women’s advice with them as they left the luncheon.

ETHS senior Lauren Hammond said she learned from the speakers that failure has its benefits when it comes to “growing as a person and becoming a better person along the way.”

For ETHS freshman Arielle Pearce, the forum instilled values of personal independence and goal-setting.

“You have to make college what you want it to be rather than going along with what everybody else does,” she said.

Kim Jenkins, Evanston’s assistant youth and young adult program manager, said the idea for the luncheon was brought to her by Tim Rhoze, artistic director of the Fleetwood-Jourdain Center. She said they intentionally invited women in education, law enforcement and medicine in the hopes of finding further inspiration and “another outlet” for the girls.

She and the other organizers plan to make the luncheon an annual event and to find panelists from different fields in the Chicago area each year.

Jenkins said the collaborations between NU and Evanston give the girls something to aim for. She also credited Reyes for putting the program in touch with several NU students who served as additional mentors at the event.

“They have a lot of support and a lot of help here no matter what they want to do in their lives,” Jenkins said.