Girls Business Roundtable teaches youths to be successful

Yvonne Lowery-Kennedy has taught area girls how to dress for success, prepare a business plan, the proper protocol in dining and business etiquette, finance and public speaking as part of the Girls & Business Roundtable for the past four years.

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Tina Simpson, speaking, an assistant professor of General Pediatrics and Pediatric Medicine, and Courtney Howard, a student assistant in Preventive Medicine, played Teenage Health Jeopardy with more than 40 girls ages 12-18 as part of this summer’s Girls & Business Roundtable.

And she has professional women teach the girls how to start their own business and be successful during sessions across the weeklong program, which is hosted by the Women’s and Girls’ Business Network, a division of the UAB Minority Business Training & Development Program under the Office for Equity and Diversity.

The Roundtable aims to show area girls age 12 to 18 what it means to be a professional. This summer Kennedy added a new component — how to maintain good health. It was the final piece of the puzzle, says Kennedy. This summer’s group of 40-plus girls learned firsthand from UAB physicians and business experts the importance of being healthy — in what they eat and how they exercise to the proper amount of rest their bodies need to function properly.

“In learning to be a professional business women, they need to learn about their health and how to be healthy people,” says Kennedy, director of the UAB Women’s and Girls’ Business Networks. “You can’t run a business effectively if you’re sick and not healthy.”

Tina Simpson, M.D., UAB assistant professor of General Pediatrics and Pediatric Medicine, and Courtney Howard, student assistant in Preventive Medicine, spoke to the girls about their health and prepared a Teenage Health Jeopardy game for them to participate in as part of this summer’s program.

Topics for the game included driving, drugs and alcohol, physical activity and nutrition, and sexual health, among others. Girls also were urged to ask questions anonymously about health topics and encouraged to share what they learned with their friends and family.

“The bottom line is if you’re not healthy, you cannot do things as well as you desire to do them,” says Joanice Thompson, community outreach manager for UAB HealthSmart, a new preventive care and health education facility established by the Minority Health & Health Disparities Research Center this past spring and host of the health component. “We want to make sure that they are healthy, happy teen girls, and ultimately healthy, happy adults. It doesn’t start when you get my age. It starts at their age and younger.”

“I thought it would be a good thing for them to learn some of the medical and health issues as they relate to their current age,” Kennedy adds. “If they’re made aware of things to look for — preventative medicine or whatever the case may be — it would be good for them now and in the long run. Health is just like the other components of the program — education is key.”

Learning to be successful

The health and wellness component is just one of many the girls engage in during their weeklong roundtable. The School of Business always makes a presentation to the students, as does the Office of the President. Several girls who have been a part of past roundtables ultimately chose to attend UAB after high school.

The roundtable is free of charge, but space is limited. Many of the girls find out about it through their mothers or other women in the community who attend the monthly Women’s & Girls’ Business Network luncheons that are offered by the Minority Business Training & Development program.

“We typically invite a motivational speaker to the luncheon and allow the women who attend to network and do a little bit of training at the luncheon,” Kennedy says. “I have a huge database of women from the monthly luncheon, and I send flyers out to all of them about our girls component. We typically get girls from all around Jefferson County. Sometimes they’re not interested in learning this. When we ask them why they’re here, they say, ‘Because my momma made me come.’”

But the seeds of success are planted during the course of the week. Kennedy says she often receives a call or email from a parent to tell her how happy she is to see her daughter prepared for that first or next job interview.

“As part of this roundtable, we bring in clothes that they need to wear and show them examples of what to wear and what not to wear,” Kennedy says. “When a parent calls and tells me their child has made a change from wearing jeans to wearing business casual and that they know what to do — that’s the most rewarding thing to me.

“These are important skills for anyone,” she says. “If you’re going to be a professional employee, learning how to dress, interview, network and develop into a leader are important. We teach them to try and be the best they can be at whatever they are going to do. They need to look good and act good.”

Want to be involved?

If you would like to join the monthly luncheons for the Women’s & Girls’ Business Network, call 934-8539. You can also email Kennedy at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to learn more about the group or about next year’s Girls & Business Roundtable.

Outreach