Dawn Baker, the Riceboro native, is no stranger to the region as a long-time anchor for WTOC news.
In 2011 Baker became an author when she released "Dawn’s Daughter: Everything A Woman Needs To Know."
Baker has since formed "Dawn’s Daughter Leadership Academy: A Premier Leadership Experience," to prepare young women for the rough and tumble world.
Recently, Baker, along with her mother, Lula Baker, hosted her second annual Leadership Academy on the campuses of Savannah Technical College on White Bluff Road in Savannah.
The five-day conference covered such topics as dressing for success, self-esteem, climbing the ladder in a male dominated field, no means no, dealing with sexual pressure, as well as dozens of other topics presented by guest speakers in their field of expertise.
Why did Baker decide to get involved in mentoring young women?
"I wanted to develop a program where we could help. With my mom, Lula Baker, by my side, we put young ladies in the same room with some of the top professionals to teach them the skills they need to become successful in their personal and professional lives. Through interactive workshops, field trips and community service, they learn everything from financial planning, goalsetting, self-esteem, how to overcome obstacles, how to become an entrepreneur, personal safety tips, conflict resolution, how to deal with bullies, preparing for the SAT, good old-fashioned morals and values and a whole lot more."
Baker felt it was time for an academy to help young teens deal with the fast paced times they live in by connecting them with professionals in various fields.
"I have met so many smart, young professionals through the years who were tops in their careers , but didn’t understand the basics," she said. "I wanted to develop a program where we could help."
It’s growing. Last year the academy had 28 students. This year, 56 students enrolled.
Among those who attended is Samantha Hovis, 16. Hovis is a 10th grade student who attends Bryan County High School.
She said she learned of the academy when a teacher approached her and recommended she attend.
Hovis said she learned to be more confident in herself and to always follow her dreams.
"I also learned that the path of success may not be easy but I should never give up my dreams." Hovis plans on attending next years academy and recommends it to other young women.
The academy runs year round. It includes a week in the summer and follow up quarterly Saturday sessions throughout the year.
It is open to all rising 10th and 11th grade girls in Liberty, Bryan and Chatham counties. Effingham County will be included next year.
Applications will be in the schools in February.