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For the second year in a row, the Destiny Conference succeeded in helping middle- and high-school age young women gain the knowledge and tools to reach their “God-given destiny."

More than 150 participants gathered for the event at the WVM Fine Arts Center at Claflin University on June 9.

Conference host Jordone Massey started the Destiny Conference in 2017. Massey said prior to that, she founded the JordoneWrites organization in 2014 to help young women deepen their relationship with God despite their stormy pasts. She has since published her first book, "I Believe in God, Now What?," her testimony about how God changed her life.

“Many girls make negative decisions that affect the rest of their lives because they don’t have a vision for their lives. If you give these girls a vision - not just any vision, but a Godly vision - and tell them who they are, they’ll be less likely to settle for anything less,” Massey said at Saturday's conference.

After morning prayer, Christian rapper J-Baptist performed and gave out shirts and books.

Next, a panel of professionals talked about their paths to success in their careers and answered questions from the young women. Panelists were Wayne and Trina Murphy, Whitney Sullivan, Dr. Shane Wall, Shanika Aiken, Samantha Moyd, Toiya Warthen and Taylor Green.

Following the panel discussion, the participants broke into smaller groups to discuss career options including: business, media, STEM education and other educational fields, law and government, pharmacy and publishing.

Wayne Murphy, founder and president of Haven Connections and owner of Chick-fil-A of Orangeburg, shared some of his life experiences and what he has learned along the way.

“I have a true passion to share my life experiences and the things that I've learned - even some of my failures - to relay that information to young girls so they can know it doesn't matter where you come from or where you grew up (and) that we live in a nation (where) there's plenty of opportunity,” Murphy said.

During the lunch break, the young women were able to visit various vendors that were set up in the WVM Fine Arts Center. Many of the vendors gave away free gifts, such as makeup and hairstyles. The participants could also purchase ice cream, organic soaps and cosmetics.

Local hairstylist Danielle Williams, one of the vendors, said, “I substitute teach, and I see a lot of the girls going natural ... . Being a young female, sometimes it’s hard to take care of our hair. So I just wanted to help show them how to style it and find the best 'you' inside."

Following lunch, parents and adults left the young participants to form small groups in a "safe zone" where they could discuss various topics. The girls were able to speak freely about dating and boys, depression and suicidal thoughts, self-esteem and beauty, peer pressure and family issues.

Taniyah Eadie, 9, a rising fourth grader from Sheridan Elementary, said she enjoyed the Destiny Conference.

"I enjoyed the experience. We talked about the different jobs we could do," Eadie said.

She said she also liked the small classes "we got to take, like self-control. We learned that even if someone says you're ugly, you don’t respond. Just ignore them and walk away because you know you're beautiful. After being here today, I feel beautiful, and it’s exciting."

Contact the writer: aliya.byrd@gmail.com.

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