Wed | May 12, 2021

Girl Power

Michelle-Ann Letman giving back to next generation of women

Published:Saturday | April 17, 2021 | 12:08 AMKrysta Anderson/Staff Reporter
Dejanae Green (right), president of the student council, Grade 12, receives gifts from Michelle-Ann Letman. The gifts included personalised items for each girl from Letman and a Malta goody bag from the D&G Foundation.
Dejanae Green (right), president of the student council, Grade 12, receives gifts from Michelle-Ann Letman. The gifts included personalised items for each girl from Letman and a Malta goody bag from the D&G Foundation.
Sagicor Investments Advisor, Tashana Smith, presents Grade 7 student Shanae Gardner with her Sagicor Investments Sigma Global Funds gift certificate.
Sagicor Investments Advisor, Tashana Smith, presents Grade 7 student Shanae Gardner with her Sagicor Investments Sigma Global Funds gift certificate.
Carla Plunkett, a Grade 13 student and St Catherine High School’s head girl, shares how she is choosing to challenge during the session.
Carla Plunkett, a Grade 13 student and St Catherine High School’s head girl, shares how she is choosing to challenge during the session.
A past student of St Catherine High School, Chief PR Belle Michelle-Ann Letman gets animated during her discussion at the Girl Power initiative event.
A past student of St Catherine High School, Chief PR Belle Michelle-Ann Letman gets animated during her discussion at the Girl Power initiative event.
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“Girl power means sharing experiences honestly while encouraging other women and girls to be the best version of themselves and [to] be unapologetic about who they are, where they are from and what they are about,” shared Michelle-Ann Letman. With this in mind, the public relations specialist is giving back to the next generation of young women through her aptly titled Girl Power initiative.

Kind and compassionate by nature, the initiative was a natural progression for Letman. “It was naturally the right thing to do, give back in whatever way I can. It is not only important to say good things, but to act and do good things. No matter how small it is, you never know how big the impact may be,” she told The Gleaner.

Letman’s years of experience in public relations has not only sharpened her technical and people skills, but have also given her the unique opportunity to contribute. “My profession is part of who I am, and public relations is a career that I love dearly. Its impact on my life has been tremendously positive,” she said.

The manager of public relations and corporate social responsibility at Sagicor Jamaica, she was happy to receive support for her personal initiative from stakeholders like Sagicor Investments and Sagicor Foundation.

INTERACTIVE SESSION

Her recent Girl Power interactive session, held at St Catherine High School, saw nine female students from grade seven and grades 10 to 13 participating in discussions under this year’s International Women’s Day theme, #ChoosetoChallenge. A Sagicor Investments adviser was also in attendance for a special financial power talk; after all, it’s never too early to start conversations about money. Describing the experience as both exciting and engaging, Letman explained that each student was allowed to openly share the stereotypes they are looking to challenge as young women. “It is one of the most fulfilling things I have done in a very long time, and I have maintained contact with all the young ladies,” she added.

The students present were provided with Sagicor Sigma Global Funds gift certificates to open their investments account and develop healthy habits of investing. D&G Foundation gave the young women book vouchers and Malta goody bags. “The part of the initiative I am most proud of is being able to commit $100,000 personally as an educational grant for a female student who will be pursuing a degree in media and communications at my other alma mater, The University of the West Indies, Mona. I am thankful and happy, and I know the investment made by these organisations will go a far way,” she said.

When asked why she embarked on this journey to empower young minds, the chief PR belle, who also heads the woman-centred PR Belle Media, shares that she doesn’t associate with the term empowerment. Instead, she sees it as fulfilling a wish she desired when she was once in their shoes: hearing and learning from the experiences of women, being introduced to financial choices, work or career options, along with sharing a practical guide on how to prepare them for different phases and stages of life. She elaborated further, “I don’t believe we have enough honest conversations with young people about adulthood, and I want to start with sharing with young women as I believe as a woman, I can readily identify with them.”

As a believer of smaller steps making a more significant impact, Letman hopes to get more female students actively involved and make this Girl Power initiative an annual event for her alma mater, “Though the group was small in number, the objective was achieved and the impact will be ongoing as the students who participated will go on to positively impact their peers as they share their various experiences and in turn use their ‘Girl Power’ to inspire others.”

Additionally, she will continue to give back to those in need who are pursuing higher education, but finding it difficult to finance the cause.

She envisions a strong Girl Power network in five to 10 years, and just like she does with her Everyday Boss Belles YouTube series, she hopes to inspire, and that each woman impacted and inspired by the Girl Power initiative will pay it forward by sharing their knowledge with the future generation of brilliant women.

goodheart@gleanerjm.com