career-wiseHigh School girls take notes at Saturday’s Career Wise for Young Women seminar at the Oyster Point Hotel. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)


Shannon Belforti, a freshman at Red Bank Catholic, had been thinking about her future, wondering what she could do with her interest in math and science. Forensics appealed to her, but when she started asking her mother, Diane, questions about the field, mom couldn’t really help.

“I felt a little limited,” said Diane, who’s background is in marketing.

So she reached out to the Girl Scouts and a long list of other sponsors and put together a daylong agenda of seminars, culling about 50 women from various professions, thinking there were other young women, like her daughter, who had plenty of questions and not enough answers.

She was right.

On Saturday, Belforti hosted a sold-out crash course on breaking into different fields of work, called ‘Career Wise In A Day.’

“Literally, we are sold out,” she said Saturday. “I’ve turned people away.”

The opportunity to be in one room and listen to and interact with successful women from numerous fields of work — FBI agents, artists, doctors and educators were among the guests — is a rare one, said Emily Lutkewitte, a senior at Marlboro High School.

“It’s pretty meaningful for me because I’m going into a career in a few years,” she said. “It’s really eye-opening.”

The young women, who packed every seat at the Oyster Point Hotel, hung on the words of the speakers and took copious notes as they dispensed words of advice.

Eye-opening, yes. But also extremely enlightening, said Ijeoma Unachukwu, also a Marlboro High student, who’s been torn between her love of medicine and goal to be a journalist — “like Sanjay Gupta,” she said. By lunch time, she had a better idea on how to merge her two passions, she said.

“So far it’s helped because I knew that I wanted to major in journalism and do something in the medical field, but I didn’t know how,” Unachukwu said. “I think the whole point of this seminar is you can hold onto your dreams and your interests and still be successful.”

Both Unachukwu and Lutkewitte said they were surprised the event turned out to be as fun as it was educational.

“I did not expect this, but it’s great. I’m so happy I took the opportunity to come here,” Luttkewitte said.

Belforti said with the day’s success she’ll consider holding another event in the future.