To inspire, to empower, to nurture…that’s what Regional Medical Center set out to do when it held its first ever Day of the Girl Empowerment Expo. Regional Medical Center invited high school aged girls from East San Jose and East Palo Alto who were interested in a career in science and healthcare.

They came ready to listen…ready to learn. Olani Dodoo was one of the high school students who came through our doors at Regional Medical Center.

“I’m interested in healthcare, I want to be a nurse primary healthcare because I’ve been in the hospital a lot,” said Olani.

Olani had a blood disorder when she was little and has been curious about nursing ever since. She and 70 other high school students interested in science and healthcare careers came to Regional’s Day of the Girl Empowerment Expo. Yes, there was a photo booth for fun, but the real opportunity here was to hear and connect with female leaders from Regional who shared their career journey.

“The most difficult thing for me was having a seat at the table and believing I belonged there,” said Nanette Logan, Chief Nursing Officer.

Linda Nguyen, manager of surgical services, shared with the girls when she was growing up, she was told that she was too quiet and wasn’t confident enough. Linda explained how she was able to change that mindset. She now tells herself, “I am smart, I am good enough. If I put my mind to it, I run the world.”

Earlier in the year, Regional Medical Center held a career day for students here on the Eastside who were interested in science, technology, and healthcare. More than 100 teenage boys showed up, but only four girls attended. That’s why the hospital held this event specifically for young women.

Jes Wolfe is the CEO of Rebel Girls, a brand that empowers young women to dream big, provided the keynote speech. “Women have been changing the world since the dawn of time and women in healthcare are incredibly important. I think it’s wonderful that a hospital puts on an international Day of the Girl celebration that is meant to inspire and encourage and help them find their own path and build their confidence to do that,” said Jes.

The girls had an opportunity to visit various booths and hear from hospital leaders in various departments such as the emergency room, radiology, and the laboratory. They also received hands on training.

“It was really cool, yeah. I want to keep on learning new things,” said Camila Gallardo, an 11th grader.

The day also provided networking opportunities for these students. Many go to school in the same neighborhood where Regional is located. Others came from East Palo Alto and are in Envision Your Pathway…a program that helps students facing barriers to ongoing education and workforce.

“They’re all going to take something away from this experience whether that be a connection, a broader network, a memory, again a certificate or just an idea of that’s a role I know I can attain and I know it’s possible for me,” said Kendra O’Donoghue, Executive Director of Envision Your Pathway.

And that impact may go a long way. Melissa Harte is the Vice President of Trauma Services and co-chair of the Women’s Colleague Network which is responsible for organizing the event.

“Walk away with knowing that you have a community of support right here, right here in the neighborhood. All of these people want to help you and support you to do great things, said Melissa.

The experience was eye opening for Olani who was thrilled to meet black leaders such as our Chief Nursing Officer and Chief Executive Officer.

“For me it was really inspirational because there are not a lot of black people here and wow they look like me and they did that. They were able to do that. That was inspirational to me and I want to be just like them in the future,” said Olani.

And that’s what this day was about…stirring up excitement and motivating our future generation.