March 8 is International Women’s Day, a global celebration of the achievements of women. At Akron Children’s, 84% of our employees are female, and many serve as mentors to young women and girls both here at the hospital and throughout the community. Get to know a few of these inspiring women, as they share more about their involvement with community organizations.
Sladjana Courson, DO, associate ambulatory program director for the pediatric residency program and pediatrician, Akron Children’s Hospital Pediatrics, Akron East
“I have been involved with Girls on the Run of East Central Ohio since my daughter joined in 4th grade. She is now 19 years old! I heard about it from her school and felt the curriculum was special, so I trained to be a coach. I joined the board 6 years ago, and I have been board chair for almost 3 years.
The end of the program is a non-competitive 5k, where all the girls come together and celebrate. I love seeing them encourage each other and how happy they are as they cross the finish line.
Despite the name, Girls on the Run is not just a running program. The curriculum encourages girls to be joyful, healthy and confident and integrates running into the program. Most of the coaches are women and become mentors to the girls. Girls on the Run also never turns a girl away. We provide scholarships to those who need them.”
Katelyn McElhaney, nurse practitioner, Akron Children’s Hospital Pediatrics, Lisbon
“Since 2014, I have been an adviser for Kappa Kappa Gamma at West Virginia University, my home chapter. I currently serve as the adviser for the Vice President of Organizations (VPO). Each term, a new active member is voted into this important role, where they manage the calendar for the year including social, philanthropic and academic events. As an adviser, I am available for each member to answer questions and help troubleshoot issues.
I grew as a student, professional and person during my Kappa days. I’ve worked closely with advisers and still hold some of those relationships close. I was honored to continue to work with the chapter from this side. I love getting to work with the girls year after year. Each member contributes something unique to the chapter, and it’s really fun and special to watch them all work together and grow into inspirational women.
Kappa Kappa Gamma plans and host philanthropic events that create awareness for the local and national organizations they work with including The Jed Foundation, Active Minds, Mental Health America, National Alliance on Mental Health and The National Eating Disorders Association. This involvement is important for these young women to develop strong leadership skills, and it opens them up to situations they may not otherwise get to experience. By working with the community, they develop pride, a sense of empathy, and leadership that they will carry with them into their future careers.”
Sharon Juszli, DNP, APRN, CNP, lead advanced practice provider, Akron Children’s Hospital Pediatrics, Green
“I am a lifetime member of Girl Scouts. My best friend and I joined in first grade to try it out, and we loved it! We had so much fun camping, hiking, selling cookies and volunteering in the community. We got to do so many unique things that we would not have had the opportunity to do with our families or school. One of our favorites was camping overnight at COSI. We made so many great memories. The mottos of Girl Scouts, ‘Make the world a better place,’ ‘Leave things better than you found them,’ and ‘Do a kind turn daily,’ resonated with me. The experiences I had as a Girl Scout were formative. I knew as a child I wanted to be a leader to share these experiences with my own daughters and other girls.
I have been a Girl Scout leader for 14 years. I love being in nature, and it has been a privilege to introduce girls to activities such as hiking, camping and canoeing. The Girl Scout camps are beautiful and provide a safe space where girls can enjoy nature and be themselves. Girl Scouts participate in community service, environmental stewardship, skills building, and learn about other cultures and the environment. Girls Scouts provides unique opportunities for girls to learn about their world, hone personal strengths, and gain leadership skills.”
Vicki Parisi, MAOL, director, volunteer and visitor services
“I have been a mentor through Akron Children’s career academy partnership with Akron Public Schools for several years. I thoroughly enjoy getting to know the students and sharing my knowledge of the hospital. The relationships and interactions have been very rewarding. Our volunteers and staff are also able to offer their experience and insight to the students.
As an internship and job shadowing opportunity, the career academy program provides an avenue for the students to experience various careers in the hospital setting, helping them to determine their career path. I was excited to hire a young lady from the program at our information desk. She has since completed her degree and continues to work at the hospital as a medical assistant. It is wonderful to watch the growth in the student’s personal and professional development.”