Education - Page 7 - Opportunities, from page 1

- Page 7
Opportunities, from page 1
seminars. They are open to the public, and talks include resiliency, performance reviews, resume help and advice on professional photos. The institute includes alumni in its speaker roster to discuss career preparation, finding a mentor, and even dinner etiquette.

“The program evolved as we participated in WOW – Women of the World,” says Oglesby. WOW is a world-wide festival that celebrates women and girls as a force for positive change. The Baltimore event, sponsored and hosted by Notre Dame of Maryland, drew an attendance of about 1,200-1,500 people. World-wide the model was reproduced in 30 countries. Oglesby says The Women’s Leadership Institute also executes The Busta Forum, an annual lecture series featuring women in business sharing stories about their careers and insight into their professional fields.

The next WOW conference is scheduled for March 7, 2020. The Women’s Leadership Institute also reaches out to high school-aged women with a summer leadership workshop.

At University of Maryland, the School of Public Health practices what it preaches. The Gymkana Troupe, a gymnastics and acrobatic group, inspires healthy lifestyles using performance and mentorship skills. The troupe travels to appearances at school assemblies, halftime shows and community events to perform astounding acrobatic circus acts and promote an anti-drug message to students.

Josh Montfort, director of the Gymkana Troupe, says any currently enrolled University of Maryland student, regardless of major, can join the group – no experience necessary. Studentathletes on the team pledge to be 100 percent drug-, alcohol- and tobacco-free. They learn gymnastics and have fun together.

Montfort says there is a place for everyone. “When we perform, the kids in the audience relate to people in the show, and there are all Opportunities, from page 1 types.” He explains that coaches, all of whom are former troupe members, work with new recruits to develop strength, footwork and a good fitness schedule. They have all the safety equipment necessary, as well as plenty of spotters. “Some acts require more strength, others require grace. It helps if the student played sports, but it’s not necessary,” Montfort says.

“It’s a very encouraging group. There’s always something you haven’t done. Don’t be afraid to try something,” Montfort notes. “You don’t learn anything if you’re not failing!” Even a competitive gymnast who joined the team learned a few things, Montfort counters. “She had never done a fire ring, but she did it here. She had never stacked chairs and climbed on top of them, but she did it here.”

He says team members are responsible for the entire show, from packing up the truck at home base to striking the set after the performance. The Gymkana Troupe does an average of nine road shows each year. Every performance requires a 24-foot moving truck that Montfort says is packed “Jenga-style” by the 65 team members, usually the night before a show. It takes over an hour to load the truck with the necessary mats, ladders, mini trampolines, rings, high bars and other props used in the show. The team meets 90 minutes before start time at the first of two shows on Fridays. This allows time to unload everything and set up the stage area. “Each person has an area they supervise. They do everything, including the announcing of the acts and performing in several acts themselves,” Montfort explains. They then pack up the truck and move to the second show of the day and repeat. “By the time we get home and unload the truck, we usually have had a 10-hour day!”

The acrobatic performances bring home the message that you can have fun without abusing drugs and alcohol. It, along with the Networking and Women’s Leadership programs, show that hard work and commitment can result in some pretty amazing experiences.