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GHS hosts soft skills training for female juniors, seniors

From left to right: Guest speakers Linda Hamilton, Lois Robinson, Ann Steiner Gregory and Amy Bryan spoke to junior and senior girls of Greenville High School on the importance of positiivty, professionalism, financial responsibility and education respectively Tuesday morning at GHS’s auditorium.

From left to right: Guest speakers Linda Hamilton, Lois Robinson, Ann Steiner Gregory and Amy Bryan spoke to junior and senior girls of Greenville High School on the importance of positivity, professionalism, financial responsibility and education respectively Tuesday morning at GHS’s auditorium.

The junior and senior young women of Greenville High School were treated to tea, brunch and a side of advice Tuesday morning at the GHS auditorium.

The event, titled Always a Lady, came courtesy of the Butler County Schools Career Academy, which focuses on preparing students for the workforce and all of the challenges that it entails.

Four guest speakers covered four core tenets of becoming a successful woman, both in the pursuit of a college degree or a trade and beyond.

The juniors and seniors were dressed in formal interview attire, and though none of them left the auditorium of Greenville High School with a job offer, one could argue they left with something just as valuable.

Guest speaker Ann Steiner Gregory spoke first on the matter of financial responsibility, which she argued is a subject that one could never think about too early.

Her first piece of advice was one that her audience could put into action immediately. Get a job, get a job, a checking account and a savings account and start learning now.

“To me, starting there is the most important thing you can do in terms of getting your finances, and then later in life, your credit,” Gregory said. “If you can’t balance and manage the money that you currently make, then it will be really hard to manage borrowed money.”

Gregory also polled her Facebook friends on the advice they would give to their 18-year-old selves, and the response was overwhelmingly unanimous.

“Stay away from credit cards,” Gregory added. “There was a good debate about using a credit card to build your credit versus how much trouble they can get you in, and I think there’s a happy medium. 

“But for the most part, I think that until you can develop some healthy spending and budgeting habits, I would steer clear.”

Butler County Board of Education member Linda Hamilton spoke next on the power of positive thinking.

“Negative people are afraid of change,” Hamilton said. “Positive people are ready for new experiences.  Attitude is the engine that drives your life.”

She added that positivity could be likened to the old expression, “garbage in, garbage out,” meaning that putting negative energy into the world would only result in negative outcomes.

Another board member took the stage next as Lois Robinson spoke on the subject of professionalism.

“Professionalism is much more than your professional look,” Robinson said. “It might get you the job, but it won’t keep you on the job.”

Robinson added that professionalism does not mean wearing a suit and tie or carrying a briefcase, but rather being able to communicate effectively and having a strong work ethic.

She also said that self-confidence is a good thing, and not a source of shame.

“Self-confidence is admitting mistakes,” Robinson said. “Arrogance does not equal self-confidence.  Arrogance is thinking you’re better than others. Self-confidence is giving yourself credit for the good and the bad.

“Professionalism is very likely the difference between being successful or not. 

You’re getting great preparation today.  When your moment comes, seize it.”

Butler County Schools superintendent Amy Bryan rounded out the quartet of speakers.  But Tuesday morning, she spoke to the crowd of junior and senior students not as the superintendent, but as a fellow product of Butler County.

Though she admitted things had changed since her time in their shoes.

Her first point was that college is no longer the ultimate solution to a successful life.

“My conversation with my daughter, who is now 26, was ‘where will you go to college, not if you’ll go to college,’” Bryan said. “My conversation with my son, who is 19, wasn’t the same, because times have changed.”

“I’m a college graduate, but I have to pay mega-bucks to have a skilled person to come to my house to fix the air conditioner, plumbing and most kinds of things.  Those skills now are paying very high wages, where you used to have a college degree to do that.  So my conversation now with my son is ‘what will you do?’

Bryan shared the process of preparing her daughter for college by researching everything about her daughter’s university of choice during her junior year in high school, including admissions requirements, scholarship offers and the achievements that she had earned throughout high school.

She learned in that process that a single point difference on an ACT score rewarded her daughter with a $5,000 annual scholarship.

Bryan’s advice also included surrounding oneself with smart and successful people and also pursuing dual enrollment or community college to mitigate the growing cost of college tuition.

But her final advice was perhaps her most important.

“Be the best lady you can be,” Bryan said. “Do not be dependent on a man.  Sometimes, you may have to work harder than a man for the same job.”

She likened today’s equality standards to an old quote from Ginger Rogers, part of an iconic duo with Fred Astaire from the 1930s.

“Ginger Rogers did everything that Fred Astaire did.  She just did it backwards and in high heels,” Bryan said.

“Be prepared to work harder for the same opportunities.”