At Pace Center for Girls, we are unwavering in our commitment to providing girls with the support and opportunities they need to succeed. We understand that representation matters, and it goes beyond being a catchphrase; it’s a fundamental principle that shapes aspirations and self-belief. Pace Clay’s recent visit by Sheriff Michelle Cook and her female peers in law enforcement underscored the significance of representation and the transformative impact it can have on our girls.
As the only female sheriff in the state of Florida, Sheriff Michelle Cook shattered gender norms, paving the way for future generations of women in law enforcement. Her presence and her willingness to share her journey resonated deeply with the 40 Pace Clay girls in attendance at the event. Particularly, Gia, 16, a junior at Pace, hopes to become a detective in the future.
Gia’s fascination with solving mysteries has been a lifelong passion. She recalls a childhood experience where she and her friend created a fictional mystery case, igniting her interest in solving real-life mysteries.
Gia is determined to turn her dream into reality. She is an active participant in the Explorers Program with the Clay County Police Department, gaining valuable experience and opportunities to work her way up in law enforcement. Following high school graduation, she intends to attend a community college to earn a degree in criminal justice, further enhancing her qualifications.
Gia’s advice to girls like her aspiring to break barriers in traditionally male-dominated fields is both simple and profound: “Follow your dreams. If you really think you can do it, then you should just try, because if you don’t try, you’ll never know if you can do it or not.”
Gia’s story highlights the critical importance of encouraging more representation in all fields, especially those where women and girls have been historically underrepresented. When girls can see themselves in diverse roles and positions of authority, it broadens their horizons and empowers them to believe in their potential.
At Pace, our vocational and education program is designed to empower at-promise girls in every way possible. We equip them with the tools needed not only to earn their high school diploma or GED but also to develop long-term employability skills. Beyond that, we actively support their pursuit of higher education, whether that means entering a professional training program, joining the military, attending a community college, or enrolling in a four-year university.