Emily Shares her Distinguished Women Shadow Day Experience

The following was excerpted from Emily Ingall’s speech at the Distinguished Women’s Award Celebration.

KarenEvanshadowdayAfter being in Girl Scouts for twelve years, I now know what being a Girl Scout means to me. It means being a leader, supporting other women, and helping people in need. When shadowing Ms. Karen Evans, a Vice President of Whiting- Turner, I see these qualities in her. She is a leader by being a VP of a highly successful and international construction company, she supports women both in her work and personal life, and she helps people in various ways. Ms. Evans helps people in the Baltimore community in a mentoring program called ACE (Architecture, Construction, and Engineering). This 14 week summer program sponsors high school students to create construction, architecture and engineering projects so they can compete for college scholarships.

Helping people in need is also important to me as it was an integral part of the work I did with an organization in Baltimore for my Gold Award. The organization is called OrchKids (short for Orchestra Kids) which creates a social change in elementary and middle school students. My part in this was to create a high school volunteer program so the OrchKids could work with students closer to their own age, versus always with college-aged students, or adults. I also collected a combined total of 30 used and new instruments that were donated to the program. After this experience I have decided to major in Music Education and then pursue a Masters in Special Education. With this in mind, I would like to create my own organization someday, whether it is with music or anything else so that I can help people in need.

I was pretty excited to be chosen to be a GS Distinguished Shadow Girl this year. When I was advised I would be shadowing Karen Evans of Whiting – Turner, I was really excited; and, to be honest, I had never heard of Whiting – Turner and had no idea who they were. So, I did what any teen would do, I Googled them. I learned Whiting – Turner is an International Construction Project Management Company headquartered here in Baltimore, but with projects all over the world.

As my Shadow day approached, I was very excited and I was also very nervous as I have no connection to commercial construction in MY path. Building construction and project management have not been part of my life but hey, I’m always willing to learn new things and experience new opportunities. I am, after all, a Girl Scout.

What I learned is many businesses and business experiences are complex and not necessarily that simple. Like life, an International Commercial Construction Company has many facets and thousands of people that do very specific, detailed oriented jobs. All those jobs come together to create buildings like The Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, The Hippodrome Performing Arts Center, The Horseshoe Casino, M & T Bank Stadium AND….the mystery field trip I got to go on.

As I have previously mentioned, Karen Evans, my Distinguished Woman, is a Vice President at Whiting – Turner. She is a Super Star. Her job is to oversee many project managers that each work on different job sites.

Our day began with getting to know each other in her office. I learned that she attended the University of Maryland and has been with Whiting-Turner for about 30 years. She also has a background in architecture and engineering and in her job there is “never a dull moment”. There is always new and interesting things going on with the projects in her business area and across the company. I also met one of her colleagues, Dave, and learned that one of his projects was going to be the “mystery” site we would be visiting.

That site turned out to be the new World Headquarters of Under Amour. During the tour we got to spend some time in Kevin Plank’s new office (everyone knows who he is, right?). Karen gave me some perspective on what a project entails and the amount of planning and coordination that has to be done to make sure the end result turns out to be what is expected, and that no one is hurt or injured while the project is underway. While I was excited, Ms. Evans was elated over every aspect of the project. So much so, that her co-worker said to me, “So did you enjoy your field trip Karen… I mean Emily?”

After lunch we headed back to her office where she brought together a panel of woman from various job positions. I was able to glean how they came to work at Whiting –Turner, why they chose their current occupation and what life experiences they have found valuable. In talking with them I learned more about the detailed jobs that go into a construction company and that there is more to a job than working “9 to 5”. We discussed a lot about my college career, my Gold Award, and more importantly, what being in Girl Scouts means.

And while this experience did not change my mind about exploring music education and special education, I have developed a new appreciation and knowledge of what goes into the construction and planning of a commercial building. I learned there is a lot more to construction that the construction itself. More importantly, I learned what it means to be a distinguished woman. It means to not only be successful, but to have respect for you. Especially for girls in my generation, by having a greater respect for yourself, others will give the same allowing you to live your dreams and have a more self-fulfilling life.

I do not see the construction business in my future, but this Hard Hat will come in quite handy at college. While my fellow students will be using drums, I can use my hard hat. Thank you Ms. Karen Evans and Central Maryland Girl Scouts especially the members of the Distinguished Woman’s Committee for this wonderful and truly enlighten experience.

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