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Teen sisters attend leadership summits at UCLA, Yale

St. Charles East’s Lichners start early career preparation

ST. CHARLES – Upon returning home from leadership summits in July, St. Charles East High School students Lily Lichner, 17, and her sister, Ali, 15, said they have a better understanding of the careers they will pursue.

People to People Ambassador Programs hosted a UCLA film and arts leadership summit, which Lily attended; and a Yale University leadership summit, which Ali attended. The summits provided professional workshops and presentations.

Betsy Lichner, Ali and Lily’s mother, proposed the summit opportunities to her daughters.

The summits required that applications be filled out.

“I have a friend who talked very highly of it,” Betsy Lichner said about People to People. “I thought this is a perfect time for [Lily] ... right before she applies to colleges.”

Film producing was a top career choice for Lily, but she took a greater liking to cinematography during her summit.

“I’m definitely more interested and eager to go to college and do [cinematography] work than I was before, since I know what it’s like to work in [film], and I’ve met people who work in the industry,” Lily said.

Lily met film producer Brad Fischer, a professional who she said was very helpful. The experience was important in her decision to focus on cinematography, she said.

Unsure whether she would choose law or public speaking for a career, Ali used her summit to narrow down the decision.

“We did a presentation where we had to speak in front of a big group of people,” Ali said. “Motivational speaker Sunjay Nath came in, too, and it really inspired me to become a public speaker.”

The sisters noted how challenges came with being submerged in professional work environments.

“There were a lot of different personalities, like the one loud person and the really quiet person,” Ali said. “A lot of people would talk over the quiet one, so we had to communicate to have everyone heard.”

Ali and Lily said compromise, problem solving and inclusion were integral to overcoming their challenges.

“We had to make a mini-film, so we were put into groups, and we had to develop an idea from start to finish,” Lily said. “That really showed me how to work together with other people because we had so many ideas that were so good but we couldn’t fit it all into a three-minute film.”

The Yale summit participants were very willing to learn, which Ali said she really enjoyed.

“Push yourself to be more open-minded because you have to see from people’s points of view before you go and preach at them,” Ali said.

Lily said film students should be straightforward with what job they want and then work up through that position’s ranks. In addition, they should use Vimeo to build a video portfolio.

“I didn’t have any experiences like that when I was their age,” Betsy Lichner said about the summits. “I think it’s never too soon to begin thinking about, not necessarily what your career is going to be, but your strengths and talents and how you can use them effectively as an adult.”

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