BATON ROUGE, La (BRPROUD) ––– More than 300 female high school students spoke with local business leaders for Junior Achievement’s Leading Ladies seminar on Tuesday. 

Selected by their school leaders, these students came from all over the capital region to learn vital life skills they may not normally get in the classroom.

“While they have a great education system here, and kids are learning the typical classroom stuff like math and science, there’s not always time to really talk through what those essential life skills are,” says President of Junior Achievement Baton Rouge and Acadiana Paula Dawson.

Students met with more than 70 mentors to learn about opportunities in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) careers and financial literacy. According to recent census data, women only make up about 27% of STEM careers, so programs like this hope to bridge the gap and inspire young girls to join STEM.

Bridget Kaigler and Greta Gordon are mentors with Junior Achievement and they say that many kids leave high school never learning how to manage their money.

“It’s important to earn money, but it’s also important to make sure that you save money as well,” says Kaigler. “All of us just need to have these tools and this knowledge, and regardless of where life takes you, at least you have the knowledge to move forward.”

Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome stopped by the event to inspire the students, saying that setting goals and going after them will get you where you want to be.

“Experiences like this are so important for our young students because if they can see it then they can achieve it,” says Broome. 

Although this was only the first event of its kind for Junior Achievement in Baton Rouge, they already have plans for next year.

For more information on Junior Achievement, visit their website here.