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Author and Penn alumna Janice Ferebee spoke at the bookstore to a group of girls, encouraging them to set goals for themselves and become divas. (Lina Cherfas/The Daily Pennsylvanian)

On Friday afternoon, the girls of Middle Years' Alternative School officially became divas-in-training. The approximately 20 seventh- and eighth-grade girls visited the Penn Bookstore for a lecture by Janice Ferebee, a Penn alumna and author of the recently published Got it Goin' On-II: Power Tools for Girls! Like Ferebee's book, the topic of the presentation was inspirational advice about personal development, geared toward adolescent girls. The potentially heavy theme was lightened by Ferebee's humorous, offbeat approach; for instance, Ferebee likened adolescence to a quest to "become a diva." "Divas have three things in common: They have a positive theme song, they have a prayer and they have a purpose and a plan," Ferebee explained, addressing an overwhelmingly female audience composed primarily of the schoolgirls. "They have the three Ps: They are precious, powerful and purposeful. That's what the divas of the 21st century are all about," she said. Ferebee's own path to divahood is an interesting one. She graduated from Michigan State University with a degree in fashion retail, which enabled her to later become the first African-American models editor at Seventeen magazine. Her experiences as a mentor to teenagers, however, led her to earn a Masters in Social Work at Penn. Ferebee has gained nationwide renown as a motivational speaker, a youth advocate and a community activist. The lecture, co-sponsored by the African American Resource Center and the Bookstore, proceeded with a recital of the "Diva's Prayer," a rousing paean stressing, among other things, dedication to personal values and an avoidance of pork rinds. Ferebee then read from her book the eight standards of excellence -- such as a positive self-image and intellectual fitness -- which are requisite for divahood. The afternoon ended with a book signing, as the girls eagerly lined up to have their copies autographed by their new role model. "I thought it was really nice," said Phylicia Faison, one of the middle school students in attendance. "It's cool that someone would devote their time to speaking to us. As teenage girls, we need to hear stuff like this."

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