New Hope Church is typically filled with churchgoers listening to sermons of inspiration. But on Thursday morning, dozens of young women filled the sanctuary. They were also inspired by their visit, to say the least.
"A-squared-Y-L-S, rocking Black excellence!" a woman sang on stage, an anthem for why these sisters all gathered there.
"A lot of times, they look at women and think, you can't do this. And let alone a Black woman, like 'oh, you really can't do this,'" said Carrin Hayes, a mentor for AAYLS. It's an acronym for "African American Young Ladies Summit."
Mentors from across the Denver metro area are working to empower the next generation, which is why the hosted the summit for its 6th year.
"Beautiful Black women from different professions... share about their own careers and our middle school girls asked them questions," Dr. Plashan Mccune, AALYS chairperson.
Hayes was one of many mentors who helped educate the girls. "I am a truck driver, a Black woman, very proud of it, and I love what I do. I knew it was a male-dominated industry. I realized they if they can do it, I can do it, too. Everyone is capable if they put their mind to it."
She says she wants to be the one who hopes for these young women, and with them. "Seeing them, I see myself when I was younger. Representation really matters," Hayes said.
No doubt the young women in the room have big dreams, and AAYLS hopes to nurture them.
"I want to be a journalist. I want to be in the news when I grow up and I want to be known for something," said Denver 8th Grader Porsha Allen.
"I want to major in law and double major in poly sci. I think I have a voice for the people and I think I could help young women," fellow Denver 8th grader Journee Berwington-Fuller said.
To get involved, check out AAYLS: https://higherlearningu.org/african-american-young-ladies
for more features.