Plattsburgh State was chosen as one of five colleges and universities nationwide to receive a 2017 Higher Education Civic Engagement Award from The Washington Center for Internships and Academic Seminars. The application was sent on behalf of the ShineOn! Program, by Center for Community Engagement Coordinator Julia Devine.

The program, created by associate professor of public relations Colleen Lemza, is a free overnight workshop for third-through-fifth-grade girls from Clinton County held on the PSUC campus.

About 200 girls are mentored by 45 college women during the program. The girls rotate through a dozen mini-workshops on such topics as media imaging, social media safety and diversity, according to the PSUC official website.

“It’s basically designed to build resiliency in young girls. We have seven different workshops, and they build character strengths,” said Madison Winters, a member of ShineOn!’s planning committee.

Winters said that because they won the award, they received a scholarship that pays for PSUC students to receive the award on Monday, Oct. 2. The ShineOn! select few will fly out of Burlington to D.C on Sunday, Oct.1 with all their expenses paid for.

“Getting any award is cool, but getting it from Washington D.C. and it’s something where there’s over 75 schools that applied and only five get it,” said Imani Burroughs, PSUC junior and Chair of ShineOn!

Along with five committee members, Lemza, Devine and PSUC President John Ettling will be attending the award ceremony. Burroughs said she is also hoping two alumnae show up for the luncheon.

“We get that kind of pat on the back feeling for it. It gives us a push to be able to bring our program to every corner of New York State. Every girl in New York State can shine,” Burroughs said.

As far as the conference they have set a day to April 14. Their past conferences have been successful as well, including several workshops to motivate young females. The first conference was held in 2011, where the inaugural ShineOn! conference was held on the Clinton Community College campus with close to 90 fourth and fifth grade girls, according to its website. Approximately 30 PSUC student leaders acted as mentors for the day-long workshop, which was held in conjunction with the Girl Scouts of Northeastern New York. At the time the budget allowed funding for 75 girls, but thanks to additional support from the Noon Rotary Club and the PSUC Student Association, they were able to accommodate the remainder of the girls, according to its official website.

For Burroughs, she said her favorite part of their annual conference is when they do a pow wow at the end, where they all countdown and yell “One, two, three, ShineOn!.”

“All the girls say shine on, but they’re saying it with such power, and they’re hugging each other. It’s just amazing to see young girls be so happy with each other,” she said. “These days, it’s all about social media.”

Before Lemza approached Burroughs of joining, Burroughs had already worked with children in the past, so she was excited for the program once she heard about it.

“What makes our program stand out is that we use college women as mentors,” Burroughs said.

Winters on the other hand, heard about the program through her sorority sister and loved the concept of it. As the event planner, she said they have to plan the entire conference from start to finish, including the meals, the workshops, the presenters and the shopping. She said all of the work they put in is worth it at the end of the day.

“For me, my favorite part is walking into the gym at the end of the day when the conference is over and seeing all the little girls and their reactions,” Winters said. “They have huge smiles on their face.”

Email Kavita Singh at cp@cardinalpointsonline.com

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