Young women find ‘opportunity for unparalleled growth’ in Grasmick-led TU cohort

By Arthur Smith on February 4, 2020

Two dozen high school students comprise the first cohort of Towson University’s Outstanding Young Women Leaders program.

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Members of the first cohort working with Nancy Grasmick during the program launch.

Twenty-five young women—one from each Baltimore County public high school—found engaging programming and opportunities alongside mentors and standout peers at the launch of the inaugural Outstanding Young Women Leaders program at Towson University on Jan. 31.

The year-long program is spearheaded by alumna and TU Presidential Scholar Nancy Grasmick and the Women’s Leadership Collective, which provides leadership skills and experience to high school and college-aged women through to their professional lives.

“The Outstanding Young Women Leaders program will provide a full year of leadership activities and events on the Towson University campus and in the community,” Grasmick said.

Through December 2020, the Outstanding Young Women Leaders will meet and interact with TU administrators, faculty and students and connect with a female corporate mentor.

Held in the Minnegan Room, the afternoon’s agenda was led by Elizabeth Berquist, director of professional learning at Baltimore County Public Schools (BCPS) and Keiwana Perryman, assistant director of leadership in TU’s Division of Student Activities.

They led interactive activities that challenged the young women to think about leadership, communication styles, core values and personal branding before a listening to panel of female leaders from the corporate and non-profit sectors discuss the importance of mentorship.

“I’ve never had a professional mentor,” said Carmelli Leal, a junior at Eastern Technical High School. “Being in this program and mentored by professional women is an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.”

Students participate in young women's leadership program

To be eligible for the program, the young women had to meet academic, leadership and community service requirements and be nominated by their principal. Members of the TU Women’s Leadership Collective selected a finalist from each high school after reviewing applications and school transcripts and conducting interviews.

“This was a rigorous process. For those of us who had the honor of reviewing so many resumes from interested students, each of you really stood out,” Grasmick said at the launch. “I want to begin by congratulating all of you. You're really stars.”

Leal applied after being urged by an adviser.

“Being in high school, there is opportunity for unparalleled growth," Leal said. "Being part of this program will allow me to network with like-minded women."

Following the three-and-half-hour session, TU President Kim Schatzel hosted a dinner for the participants in her suite at SECU Arena. Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Melanie Perreault and Deputy Director of Athletics Tricia Brandenberg also attended and spent time with the young leaders.

“It’s been exciting to hear the depth of their achievements and aspirations for leadership and how they’re going to work to accelerate their knowledge of leadership,” Grasmick said. “We can feel so good that Towson University is offering this program and nurturing such potential amazing leaders for future success.”

Read more from The Baltimore Sun: Towson University launches women’s leadership program for Baltimore County students

This story is one of several related to President Kim Schatzel’s priorities for Towson University: TU Matters to Maryland and Diverse, Inclusive Campus and Culture of Philanthropy.