This past October, our partners at Be a Leader Foundation hosted their 13th Annual Taking Steps Towards College Success Virtual Summit. From October 22-23, over 800 students logged on to participate in the virtual summit. The two-day event was completely free and open to all high schoolers across the state and provided resources and workshops to help prepare students for life after high school.
On the first day, students were introduced to the event by keynote speaker, Anna Maria Chávez. After the intro, students participated in opening-day activities before they were free to choose from over 40 different classes and workshops to join in over the next two days.
“With COVID still going on, we wanted to reach our students in a meaningful and impactful way to help inspire them and give them the knowledge and the tools to navigate how to get in and through their post-secondary education,” Be a Leader Foundation Development Manager Lana Shapiro said.
Day Two arrived and sessions began at 9 a.m. There was something for everyone at the summit. Classes focused on a variety of postsecondary options including financial aid, building a personal brand, empowerment, leadership, FAFSA, applications, career exploration, and even one-on-one college advising.
While it was the second annual virtual summit, Be A Leader is no stranger to virtual events. Since the pandemic began, BALF has shifted its events and in-person workshops into online successes. They host a series of online events throughout the year focused on the postsecondary process.
The shift to online has been a challenge for students and programs alike, but Lana and BALF are seeing the positives in the situation. In their second year of hosting the summit, registrants and participation have increased from the year before. While they look forward to hosting in-person events in the future, the virtual summit brings along other benefits.
“With a virtual event, we get to reach so many more students that we may not have been able to if we did an in-person event here in Maricopa County. We are able to work with students in places like Tucson, Yuma, and Flagstaff,” Lana said.
Be a Leader hosts a variety of free workshops for high school students from 9th-12th grade. Visit their website to learn more about these opportunities.