Valley Focus: Young Women's Conference Aims To Inspire Youth

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Calling all 6th through 12th-grade girls! The 9th Annual Young Women's Conference is open for registration but you have to act fast. The daylong event is March 24th in Livingston. Register by Monday, March 19th.

Patricia Zarco is mistress of ceremonies for the conference and the project director for UC Merced's Center for Educational Partnerships. She joined Valley Focus host Margot Kim to talk about this great opportunity for girls. Here are excerpts from the interview that aired March 18, 2018:

Margot: Let's talk about the Young Women's Conference. And what is its overall mission?
Patricia: The mission of the conference is to -- It's dual-focused. It's, one, to provide young women an opportunity to learn of the opportunities, both in career and academic opportunities that exist for them as they approach adulthood,
but then also to help them through workshops and by meeting and interacting with women leaders to help them become the best version of themselves. And, so, we tackle topics like self-esteem, emotional intelligence, social-media
responsibility, car maintenance, self-defense. And so there's a variety of opportunities for women to learn from a variety of areas.
Margot: And we certainly heard about the Central California Women's Conference, a way for businesswomen and community leaders to network. Why is it important to start with young women, with a conference that is similar in
Patricia: That was really where the conversation began about its need. Martha Nateras, who is the founder and president of the Young Women's Conference -- she wanted to create an opportunity for women as young as the
sixth grade to really learn as early on. You know, it's about preparation, understanding what career options you have. In the Livingston area, we have a high population of first-generation students that will be pursuing careers, and
many of them don't know the ins and outs or "How do I prepare?" And, so, what we're able to do is introduce them to people who could possibly be future mentors, educators. And we're really hoping that that opportunity not only
uplifts women in the Central Valley but also prepares them for the future.
Margot: You touched on some of the workshops that will be offered there. And the challenges for young people, and especially women, in this day and age, are so much more than generations ago, especially social-media

responsibility, some of the other issues that, certainly, our society is tackling now. Why is it important to get young women and educate them at this early age to prepare them for that, when they face that in the
Patricia: I think that any community should be focused on the betterment of the next generation. And these are our future leaders and these are the people that will be students at university campuses and hold positions in
public office. And so what do we do to prepare them for that and to give them the resources to be able to navigate through that as seamlessly as possibly and so that they thrive in whatever environment they pursue as they
approach adulthood?
Margot: And there's opportunities there for the young ladies that are coming to this conference. There's some scholarship opportunities, as well.
Patricia: Yes. Scholarship dollars are available to seniors in attendance, and so applications will be given to seniors at the conference that day. There is a deadline, and then, of all the scholarship applications, we go through and
we pick out candidates and we issue them scholarship dollars that will hopefully cover the cost of textbooks, food, and any other costs that they need for their education.
Margot: Anything helps.
Patricia: Anything.

Margot: But it's a day of fun, too.
Patricia: Oh, it most definitely is.Our breakfast and lunch are provided through a volunteer chef, who really wanted the girls to understand, one, that the culinary arts is an opportunity for young women, as well, but then, you know, to
feel a little classy and being able to have that well-balanced, chef-designed lunch. And so it's fun and it's most definitely a day where, by the end of the day, girls that didn't know each other in the morning are taking pictures with
each other, possibly meeting their future dorm roommate at whatever campus they go to. And so we just really wanted to provide a venue and a place for that. And Andres Zamora, from Livingston Union School District, has been a huge
champion of our efforts. And he opens up his campus to us and provides whatever support that we need. We also receive tremendous support from Allan Peterson, superintendent of Merced Unified School District.
And this is something that, across the Merced County and Central Valley, we get feedback of, "Oh, we're talking about this in our class. We're organizing girls to come." And so it's been really well-received, and I'm very, very much looking forward to it.
Margot: Now, there's still time to sign up.
Patricia: Oh, most definitely. Registration closes Monday, but you can register at, and that will give us an idea of how many wonderful young women to anticipate.

Register for the 9th Annual Young Women's Conference

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