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Straight to the Top

CHOSEN TWO: San Marino High School’s Megan Lan, left, and Erina Widjaja, stood out at a recent conference that provided business and entrepreneurship advice to local high school girls. The two were among just a dozen who were chosen from a pool of 150 attendees to continue their projects in a five-month internship program with key female business leaders.

It all started as an innocent suggestion courtesy of a curious high school counselor, but two San Marino High School girls had an experience last month that will be rivaled by few.

Erina Widjaja, a senior, and junior Megan Lan took a tip from college and career counselor Hiyas Mutia and attended She Leads, a two-day entrepreneurship conference for high school girls that was hosted by the Snapchat social media messaging application and held at its Santa Monica headquarters.

There, 150 likeminded young ladies actively engaged in discussions with female entrepreneurs, participated in design thinking and ideation exercises, and discussed and developed product and marketing skills.

On the second day, Widjaja and Lan pitched business ideas they had crafted to a panel of 12 potential mentors. Remarkably, the schoolmates were just two of the 12 chosen from the pool of 150 candidates to be paired with a mentor.

Lan was teamed with Anu Shukla, a Northern California businesswoman, who describes herself as “a serial entrepreneur.” 

“Anu has helped start-up a lot of health-related businesses, which I think is why she chose me,” said Lan. 

San Marino High School students Erina Widjaja, left, and Megan Lan with the book Brave, Not Perfect, which they were given at the She Leads entrepreneurial conference in Santa Monica. Erina and Megan’s projects were two of just a dozen chosen from a field of 150 young ladies who attended the conference.

Lan’s project, Take Pride in Your Period, aims to provide affordable hygiene and feminine products to young women around the world.  

“My vision is to see a place where women can thrive without being ashamed of their bodies and periods,” said Lan. “My website will include basic necessities, such as pads and tampons, along with other essentials needed for women to feel comfortable during menstruation.”

Lan said she learned that young women frequently drop out of school because of their periods in Third World countries, such as India. 

Widjaja pitched an application dedicated to providing children in low income communities who are struggling in school with accessible resources. She was paired with Nicole Brugman, who among other accomplishments has developed an app that helps college students find jobs. 

Because they were among the dozen selected to advance, Widjaja and Lan have already begun five-month internships with their mentors. They communicate on a weekly basis to discuss progress and any challenges that might have surfaced and will be introduced to potential investors to help fund their projects.  

“It was really great,” said Lan of the experience. “Everything was very well organized and it was a great event. We received a lot of insight into the business world.”

Lan said she hopes to attend a UC upon graduating from San Marino High School to major in…business. 

“Actually, this is really helpful for me,” she said with a laugh.

Widjaja was recently accepted at USC where she will follow a similar path in the business world. 

‘I definitely learned a lot,” said Widjaja, the last of three daughters who have gone through San Marino schools. “I am going to major in business and I wanted to learn a lot more about business and entrepreneurship. The female speakers were so inspiring and we learned a lot in a short period of time. Overall, this experience was incredibly empowering to be apart of and I would recommend any future girls who are interested to attend next year.”

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