Televised cat fights, near-nude magazine covers and middle-aged women trashing one another for ratings and ‘likes.’ Thanks to tabloid-filled talk shows and the omnipresence of social media, today’s teenagers have an abundance of poor examples and role models. While parents can’t shield vulnerable minds from all negativity, they can guide their children by exemplifying positive traits themselves and aligning them with groups and organizations who do the same. It was for those reasons that wife, mother and realtor, Tamera Nalls, founded “Journey of a Young Lady,” an organization dedicated to inspiring and empowering teenage girls.
Since 2008, JOAYL has utilized professionals as mentors to introduce teen girls to etiquette and entrepreneurship, developing skills that will apply in careers, higher learning and other important aspects of life. Its first seminar, “Helping Young Women Succeed Globally Summit,” meets this morning in Founders Hall at UNT. In a recent conversation, Nalls shared what participants can expect, what successes the program has achieved and what to expect at Saturday’s event.
What made you think about creating JOAYL?
“I started because of my own daughter, who was in 8th grade at the time, and being unable to find an organization suited for her. A few friends and I got together and just started doing things with our daughters as a group, taking them around to different places to experience, and one of the first to open its doors to us was Neiman Marcus.We all about 20 young ladies to the downtown location , where the staff showed them how put make up on, supplied sample kits and then we moved to sportswear, where they showed the girls how to properly measure their undergarments. That’s how it got started.”
Is there a particular focus for JOAYL participants?
“Our organization strives to develop opportunities that most of them wouldn’t normally think about at a younger age. Some parents already do expose their daughters to different things and we’re here to supplement that, such as exposing them to pilots, chefs and authors. We also wanted other business women to reach back and provide their hands-on guidance and mentoring.”
Which positive changes are noticed once girls complete the program?
“The biggest thing that we’ve watched is how the young ladies blossom: some come in very shy, very reserved, and by the time they end the program, they’re leading other young ladies. We require to wear business suits, give them public speaking opportunities and many have become community ambassadors. As apprentices and volunteers, they go into businesses, learn about what it takes to be a business owner and study etiquette, leadership and character-building. So far, JOAYL participants have had 100% high school graduation, 100% college acceptance, with many earning scholarships, Four young ladies have started their own businesses and five have graduated with Associates degrees.”
How can interested teenagers join of JOAYL?
“We accept 20-25 young ladies on a first-come, first serve basis and the cost is $190. Registration opens in August and our four sessions run from September through June. We need the girls to have at least be a 2.0 GPA and be between the ages of 13 and 19 years old.”
What else is unique about JOAYL?
“We offer $350 for the cotillions for seniors; a lot of us, including myself, couldn’t afford the thousands of dollars it takes to go through a traditional cotillion program, but why should they miss out? Seniors become eligible after participating in at least 80 percent of our programs and pay for their own dresses and jewels, but we offer dance lessons and the cotillion dinner, where fathers present them to their families ant later, at our Journey Awards, to society.”
Your husband, videographer Troy Nalls, has a workshop for parents and daughters, who else will participate?
“Linda Ngo will discuss marketing and branding; Trenette Wilson is going to talk about dining and social etiquette; Chef Cassondra Armstrong will talk about the culinary field and L’Areal Lipkins will discuss sales careers. We want mothers and fathers to attend, it’s about dialogue, mentoring and creating a legacy to leave for the next generation.”