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During School Board Recognition Month this October, we would like to thank the members of the Herkimer BOCES Board of Education for their service and all that they do for BOCES and our students! Thank you to: Daniel LaLonde, Thomas Shypski, Jack Bono, Ronald Loiacono, Janine Lynch, William Miller, James Schmid, Michelle Szarek, Linda Tharp and Daniel Voce!
Local women share career successes, advice with
female high school students in Herkimer BOCES region

May 19, 2015


Sherry DePerno speaks to students
Local female students in grades 10-12 look on as Sherry DePerno, president and chief executive officer of Advanced Tool Inc., gives the keynote speech on Tuesday, May 19, at the second annual Women’s Career Experience at Herkimer-Fulton-Hamilton-Otsego BOCES.


View a photo gallery slideshow and additional photos at the bottom of this page.


HERKIMER – Fear is the biggest thing that stops many people from achieving their goals, Sherry DePerno, president and chief executive officer of Advanced Tool Inc., told local female students during her keynote speech on Tuesday, May 19, during the Women’s Career Experience at Herkimer-Fulton-Hamilton-Otsego BOCES.

In high school, DePerno dreaded being called on in class. In college, when the teacher would go around the room asking for input from each student, she would break out in a cold sweat.

“I was so terrified of speaking in public that it was ridiculous,” she said, embracing the irony that she was talking on stage to several dozen students.

DePerno is now comfortable talking in front of large crowds, she said.

“How did I overcome the fear?” she said. “I just did it anyway. And the more I did it, the easier it got.”

About 60 female students in grades 10-12 from the Herkimer, Little Falls, Mount Markham, Owen D. Young, Poland, Richfield Springs and West Canada Valley school districts and the Herkimer BOCES Pathways Academy at Remington attended the second annual Herkimer BOCES Women’s Career Experience. The Herkimer BOCES School to Careers program organized this year’s event.

“It provides the opportunity for our aspiring female student leaders in the region to connect and identify with the very passionate and personalized stories and the journeys taken by these professional female leaders in our region,” School to Careers Director Chris Groves said. “It certainly shapes out to be a life-changing experience for many.”

The students also attended breakout sessions with DePerno and three other locally successful women: Andria Heath, Theresa Corr and Kathy Contino-Turner.

‘Be unstoppable’

DePerno, who also is the founder and chief executive officer of Sherry DePerno: Business Consulting & Training and founder and executive director of ALS of Utica, ended her keynote speech with some more advice for the young women in attendance.

“Whatever you do in life, work hard, make good decisions, follow your dreams and be unstoppable,” she said.

DePerno then also talked to students during the breakout sessions. She focused on what to do when filling out a job application and going through the interview process. She gave other tips about preparing for some specific questions, leaving every job on good terms, maintaining a good credit score and being careful about what you post on social media.

She recommended that once students have jobs they be results-driven, don’t drop the ball and offer to help their bosses in areas where they struggle.

‘Eyes open’

Heath, the executive director of the Utica Zoo, spoke to the students about taking advantage of opportunities. She told her story of taking advantage of every opportunity that was presented to her – starting with working for the town of Herkimer as a teenager while also going to modeling school.

She would later become a community educator for the YWCA for 10 years, and while there, she grabbed opportunities to start writing grants, joining coalitions and doing presentations across the country. She served as director of the YWCA rape crisis/child sexual abuse and domestic violence secondary victim services.

Heath also went on to become executive director of the American Red Cross of the Mohawk Valley – working there from 1997-1999 and 2001-2011. Between the two stints, she spent a year as director of volunteers for the Folts Homes Health Center in Utica and one year as director of development for the Heritage Health Center in Utica.

Then while on a Disney Animal Kingdom safari with her family, she decided she wanted to look into options for making a change in her career. She reached out to five people on the Monday she returned from the trip. Within a few days, she had heard back about four interesting opportunities – one of which was her current job as executive director of the Utica Zoo.

“It’s a lot of work,” she said. “It’s a lot of fun.”

Heath told students they have many career options – whether they leave the area or stay in this region.

“There are great things going on here right now,” she said. “You just have to keep your eyes open to opportunities.”

‘Your education’

Contino-Turner, the director of communications and marketing at the Masonic Care Community, told students how she originally wanted to be a veterinarian when she was in high school. Then as a senior in high school, she was in a musical and decided she wanted to be a star, so she went to SUNY Oswego to study broadcasting.

Out of college, she became a reporter at WUTR in Utica, and within weeks, she was anchoring. By 1984, she became the youngest female television news director in the United States, and job opportunities were coming in, but she would leave the on-air side of TV with two small children to raise.

She worked in the sales side of TV until the death of her husband from a brain tumor, when she chose to enter the healthcare field for the first time as director of clinical marketing at the Sitrin Health Care Center. She would also become executive director of the Stevens Swan Humane Society in 2005, before starting her current job in 2008.

Contino-Turner shared with students one of the lessons she learned through it all.

“Nobody can take your education away from you,” she said.

She also recommended that the young women make sure they are able to stand on their own two feet – saying that the days of Cinderella and waiting for a man to take care of you are over.

To improve confidence and public speaking, she recommended the students participate in
high-school musicals, sports, clubs, a theater class or a public speaking class.

As Heath did, Contino-Turner encouraged students to be aware of all the opportunities available to them.
“There’s a big world out there, but you can always come back here,” she said.

‘Love your job’

Corr, a 2005 graduate of New Hartford High School, now works as a manufacturing engineer at Trenton Technology.

She told students how she started off attending the Rochester Institute of Technology for two years, but she realized she either didn’t like engineering or didn’t like RIT, so she left and took some time off. For her, it was the best decision she ever made, she said.

Corr then attended Mohawk Valley Community College while deciding if engineering was really for her, and she graduated with her associate degree in mechanical engineering technology. She later finished her bachelor’s degree – graduating in 2011 from what is now the SUNY Polytechnic Institute.

Studying and working in a field of mostly all guys can be difficult at times, Corr said, but you have to be able to stand your ground when people try to prove you wrong, and prove them wrong instead. She has been taking apart engines since she was 5, so she was able to do that, she said.

Corr now has been working at Trenton Technology for six years, and she shared stories from working there and ensuring products are being completed properly.

“I spend a lot of time making things work out on the floor, which I think is fun,” she said, before offering advice to the students. “Please, please, please love your job.”

In closing

After the breakout sessions, everyone gathered back in the lobby at Herkimer BOCES. Each of the four guests shared some final thoughts with the students.

School to Careers liaison MaryBeth Napolitano encouraged every student to pursue happiness and never stop dreaming or achieving.

Napolitano said all of the students there could be on stage someday where the guests were or in a similar situation sharing with young women what made them successful.

“It’s inside each and every one of you,” she said.



Photo gallery:





Additional photos:

Sherry DePerno speaks to students
Local female students in grades 10-12 look on as Sherry DePerno, president and chief executive officer of Advanced Tool Inc., gives the keynote speech on Tuesday, May 19, at the second annual Women’s Career Experience at Herkimer-Fulton-Hamilton-Otsego BOCES.


MaryBeth Napolitano speaks to students
Herkimer-Fulton-Hamilton-Otsego BOCES School to Careers liaison MaryBeth Napolitano (center) speaks to students during the beginning of the second annual Women’s Career Experience on Tuesday, May 19, at Herkimer-Fulton-Hamilton-Otsego BOCES. Pictured with her are guests (from left to right) Theresa Corr, a manufacturing engineer at Trenton Technology; Sherry DePerno, president and chief executive officer of Advanced Tool Inc.; Kathy Contino-Turner, director of communications and marketing at the Masonic Care Community; and Andria Heath, executive director of the Utica Zoo.


Sherry DePerno speaks to students
Sherry DePerno, president and chief executive officer of Advanced Tool Inc., gives the keynote speech on Tuesday, May 19, at the second annual Women’s Career Experience at Herkimer-Fulton-Hamilton-Otsego BOCES. The experience was designed to give female high-school students the chance to start thinking more about their career paths.


Andria Heath speaks to students
Andria Heath, executive director of the Utica Zoo, speaks to female students in grades 10-12 during a breakout session at the Women’s Career Experience on Tuesday, May 19, at Herkimer-Fulton-Hamilton-Otsego BOCES.


Kathy Contino-Turner speaks to students
Kathy Contino-Turner, director of communications and marketing at the Masonic Care Community, speaks to female students in grades 10-12 during a breakout session at the Women’s Career Experience on Tuesday, May 19, at Herkimer-Fulton-Hamilton-Otsego BOCES.


Theresa Corr speaks to students
Theresa Corr, a manufacturing engineer at Trenton Technology, speaks to female students in grades 10-12 during a breakout session at the Women’s Career Experience on Tuesday, May 19, at Herkimer-Fulton-Hamilton-Otsego BOCES.








 
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