CHARISSA EGGELSTON
FEDERAL WAY PUBLIC SCHOOLS
WORKSITE LEARNING 
COORDINATOR

 

WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO LEAD IGNITE IN YOUR DISTRICT?
I requested to be Federal Way School Districts IGNITE Coordinator because I believe in the mission and vision of IGNITE.  Being a woman of color working in schools, I am aware of the data related to young women of color who are not being exposed to traditionally male dominated careers.  I am also passionate about exposing diverse young women to opportunities they may not have been exposed to that offer an opportunity to perhaps change their lives and the their families lives economically and perhaps change all of our lives by creating something innovative.

 

WHAT IMPACT HAS IGNITE HAD ON YOUR FEMALE STUDENTS?

IGNITE panels and Career Trips have impacted Federal Way School District scholars in so many ways.  The panels have provided an intimate setting for young women to see women that look like them doing meaningful and fulfilling work.  They also have the opportunity to ask questions – they may not feel comfortable asking a male.  Of course the young ladies are exposed to the careers, but one of the most powerful results has been the women’s empowerment that these young women get to experience.  The panels have brought up real life topics about overcoming adversity and women supporting women.

The Career Trips have often taken young women to Seattle and Bellevue – cities some may have never visited before.  Each trip we have been on included hands on training and interaction with a variety of women and positions.  Our scholars go away knowing that they can do anything if they are willing to put in the work.  Young women in our district are attending more coding workshops, challenging themselves to take higher level classes and just being more comfortable being a smart girl.

Federal Way School Districts partnership with IGNITE has provided hundreds of our scholars with exposure, mentoring, and hands on learning in the real world.  It has also ignited a fire – see how I did that – in hundreds of young women to push themselves, take advanced classes, take college courses, join a club and even in some cases start a club to prepare themselves for a career in technology.

 

ARE THERE ANY MEMORABLE STORIES ABOUT HOW IGNITE HAS HAD AN IMPACT ON A PARTICULAR GIRL?

I would like to share the story of Brooklyn.  She is pretty and smart, but shy.  She gets good grades, but tends to keep to herself and may try to keep the fact that she is pretty and smart to herself to fit in better at her school.  Brooklyn attended the Digigirlz camp this summer at Microsoft.  She only attended due to my constant encouraging/nagging and I had her Mom helping me.  On the first day of camp on the bus, Brooklyn kept to herself, head down, ear phones in.  By the end of the day, she and the other girls were laughing and talking about the great experience they had.  Brooklyn was inspired by the other girls present, but also the Key Note Speaker Dona Sakar, who shared Brooklyn’s interest in fashion and technology.  Brooklyn decided to audition to walk in Seattle’s Fashion Week and was booked for a job.  She has also taken this confidence into taking more challenging classes and doing her best to prepare for a possible career as a medical doctor.

I have several girls to highlight, but would like to summarize then. I work at five different high schools in our district.  One school a week.  I have young women who have participated in an IGNITE panel event, career trip, or Digigirlz event waiting for me each week.  These young women are excited about their computer science classes, asking me to talk to their school counselors to get them in more challenging classes.  They ask me to make sure they are included in the next event.  Some have enrolled in Running Start to challenge themselves.  Some are getting scholarship offers to pursue degrees in Computer Science, some are starting and participating in coding clubs.  All of the girls have gained self-confidence and have been inspired to be their best self.  IGNITE is changing girls’ lives!

We have developed partnerships with some of the amazing INGITE Panelists and companies.  Microsoft comes to our school district three times a year to teach coding classes.  Amazon has hosted scholars and taught coding and security workshops.  Amazon is also partnering to come teach interviewing and pre-employment training classes.  Microsoft will again provide a Digigirlz opportunity for 30 of our female scholars who would otherwise not be able to attend.

Thank you IGNITE!

 

LIST OF HEROES