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June 26, 2014

Passing on leadership skills

Girls learn at CEO Camp

TERRE HAUTE — Bernice Helman shared what she has learned about life and leadership, while students Cheyann Hyde and Sarah Rozmin eagerly listened.

They sat at a table in the Le Fer Ballroom at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College on Wednesday. Helman talked about her experiences, while Hyde and Rozmin shared their aspirations.

Helman is vice president at Coldwell Banker Troy Helman Realtors.

Hyde and Rozmin are Girl Scouts and high school students who participated in a four-day camp this week, Camp CEO, which teaches girls about leadership and empowerment.

The camp, part of a national program, paired the Woods with the Girl Scouts of Central Indiana.

The program is “a natural fit for the college,” said SMWC President Dottie King. For 174 years, the women’s college has been about preparing female leaders and “pushing women forward, making them believe there’s nothing they couldn’t do because of their gender and eliminating the glass ceiling.”

Fifteen middle- and high-school girls, most from Terre Haute, participated. They took part in activities that focused on strengths and self-esteem, and they learned ways to build leadership, communication, networking and problem-solving skills.

On Wednesday, several female executives attended, serving as role models, offering advice and doing activities with the students. They also listened and learned from the leaders of tomorrow.

During a meet-and-greet, executives and students got to know each other.

Later, they participated in two activities, one involving Legos and a “saboteur,” while the other was called “Build the Tallest Free-Standing Tower.”

They also had lunch and participated in a leadership roundtable.

 Hyde, who will be a sophomore at Terre Haute North Vigo, said that through Camp CEO, “I feel like I’m gaining a lot of new information on how to be a leader. We learned about how to do handshakes and how to be confident about yourself,” she said.

Students also learned “there are other personalities out there you have to understand and not to judge too quickly.”

Hyde wants to be a “good role model for kids that want to do music,” she said. In college, she hopes to major in music and minor in theater.

Rozmin, who will be a freshman at Terre Haute South Vigo, has leadership skills she wants to develop, she said. She’s learned it’s important to understand people’s personalities “so you can accommodate to their needs as a leader and help them lead as well.”

She tends to be an outgoing person and has learned she needs to be patient with, and listen better to, those who aren’t quite as extroverted, she said.

Hayley Tren, who also will be a freshman at South, said that through Camp CEO, “I’ve learned more confidence and a way to show myself. We’ve learned a lot of etiquette and how to act in an interview.”

Helman participated in Camp CEO because she believes it’s important to help prepare future leaders.

“I get a little nervous when I look to our community and I wonder who our next set of leaders are going to be,” Helman said. “I think as mentors, we’ve sort of failed in helping cultivate an environment that we can help these young kids become good leaders.”

As far as sharing advice with the students, Helman said, “I’m a firm believer there is plenty of opportunity out there. But you determine that destiny. You’re the one that can embrace these opportunities. Don’t sit back and wait for it to happen. You have to make it happen.”

Jeanette Winchester, owner of Simple to Elegant, said her advice to future leaders would be to remain open-minded. “There are so many opportunities out there that they don’t even realize yet.” They shouldn’t be afraid to ask questions and shouldn’t let successful people intimidate them.

She participated in Camp CEO because “I want to be part of providing for leadership in our community after I decide not to work anymore. I want our community to be left in good young leaders’ hands.”

King hoped to convey to the future leaders that “the pathway to their future probably isn’t paved and marked with road signs. It’s going to be filled with lots of forks in the road, and twists and turns and bumps. There’s just not one way to succeed. The adventure of your life can take you a lot of different directions, and you can still get to a leadership position.”

Deborah Hearn-Smith, CEO of Girl Scouts of Central Indiana, said the Girl Scouts are already leaders among their peers. Through Camp CEO, they learn what it will take to become a leader, executive or CEO in their future careers.

“It’s critical for young women to see there are women who are leaders and who can talk to them about the challenges and rewards that leadership brings,” Hearn-Smith said.

Sue Loughlin can be reached at 812-231-4235 or


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