The Initiative has three main goals: encouraging leadership by introducing positive female role models in all walks of life; mentoring our young women to develop skills to prepare them for college and life beyond; and advocating for enhancements at MDP to ensure equity of opportunity in all areas of student life.
It is led by a steering committee of Mater Dei Prep alumna and friends that include Co-Chairs Kathryn (“Kathy”) McLaughlin ’72 and, Kathleen Daly, Mater Dei Prep Associate Head of School; Carolyn Broderick P’21, Dorothea Zando Laux P’17 & ‘19, Christina Hardman O’Neal ’89 & P’22, Debra Mannix, Sue Kiley ’72, and Elizabeth Shaw ‘10, with Kelly King ’03, Mater Dei Prep Guidance Counselor; Debra Serafin, Mater Dei Prep Principal. The committee has been expended to include a Student Liaison Committee of two students per grade.
“The Student Liaison Committee gives our Seraphs the opportunity to represent their peers’ interests, to help communicate issues of importance to the young women of Mater Dei Prep, and to give feedback on what steps can be taken by the initiative to improve student life,” said Ms. Daly. “Their input has enabled the Initiative to address the students’ interests, from providing workshops to supporting athletics. Each of these students are making a lasting impact on student life at Mater Dei Prep,” said Ms. Daly, Associate Head of School. The Student Liaison Committee includes Morgan Hurst ’19, Elizah Mitchell ’19, Claire Gaston ’20, Emily Smith ’20, Chika Efobi ’21, Anushka Sharma ’21, Alessandra Fleming ’22 and Isabelle Hoadley ’22.
As an outgrowth of the Initiative’s work, on March 13th, thirty-five female students participated in an important Women’s Leadership Series workshop to discuss the internship and job search process. The workshop was led by Christine Dykeman, SHRM-CP, PHR, PMP, Employment Counselor at Monmouth County Workforce Development, who counseled female students on valuable tools they can use in their search for a internships or towards a future career. Ms. Dykeman introduced students to job search techniques, the referral economy, job boards, applications, resumes, interview skills and what to wear to an interview. In addition, students learned what is expected by future employers and explored techniques and changing trends Ms. Dykeman’s impactful presentation gave the young women of Mater Dei Prep the confidence and knowledge to take their internship and job search to new heights.
“The Women’s Leadership workshop was very informative and allowed us to gain a deeper understanding of the internship process. We are grateful to Ms. Dykeman for passing down her knowledge and equipping us with the tools needed to succeed as female leaders in our changing world. I am very fortunate to attend a school that values empowering women from the beginning in our adolescence,” said Anushka Sharma ’21, a member of the Student Liaison Committee.
Additionally, the Women’s Leadership Initiative is working to enhance the experience of our female student-athletes by supporting the development of their athletic opportunities at Mater Dei Prep. “We recognize the importance of athletics to our students, not only for their physical fitness but also towards boosting confidence and teamwork, instilling leadership skills, and providing a path to college,” said Ms. McLaughlin, Women’s Leadership Initiative Chair. “We are already advocating for a number goals, including improving facilities for our women athletes, supporting development of our coaching staffs, and providing tools for success of our teams."
Just this year, the Initiative has provided financial support for the purchase of new softball uniforms, new scoreboard, and benches, as well as new track uniforms and warm-ups for our female athletes. All of this has been made possible thanks to a generous grant to the Women’s Leadership Initiative by Ed “Skip” McLaughlin ’74 and Don Froude ’74.
“I am thankful for the opportunities the Women’s Leadership Initiative Steering Committee is providing for our lady Seraphs on all fronts to further prepare for their future” said Principal Debra Serafin.