Keshia Clukey named BPW

PLATTSBURGH - Keshia Clukey has been named winner of the 2010 Champlain Valley Business and Professional Women's annual Young Careerist Competition.

Clukey, a freelance journalist and a part-time substitute teacher, was recognized by the nonprofit organization during a dinner at the Westside Ballroom April 20. She won the competition after a written essay, personal interview and speech proved she was the one who should move on to the state level of the competition.

"I'm really surprised," Clukey said on winning the contest. "I entered as a whim."

Clukey, a recent master's degree graduate, competed against six other young entrepreneurs from different professional backgrounds, after her editor convinced her to talk to someone involved with the competition and submit an essay.

"I wrote the essay and then they e-mailed me telling me I was a finalist," she said.

The essay was to address a senator who stands in opposition to one of Champlain Valley BPA's platforms. The winning topic chose to discuss women's rights issues, such as heart disease and ovarian cancer, that are frequently overlooked because of more controversial ones, such as abortion.

After the essay, the six finalists were invited to a dinner, at which they were interviewed by a judge. They were also given a list of six questions, one of which they would have to deliver a speech on. Clukey chose work/life issues within the genders.

"Men and women have to struggle with balancing their work and life," she explained.

Clukey also discussed how employers can help ease these issues by providing daycare or allowing employees to work from home.

"I was so nervous," she said.

However, she looked to her past experience as a public speaker and writer to help deliver her speech, which will now be read at an upcoming state level BPW competition.

"It's the same speech [at the state level]," she said. "But, I'm definitely going to tweak it."

"Oh and practice, practice, practice," she added.

Kerry Haley, executive director of the Foundation of CVPH Medical Center, was selected as runner-up for the local competition. If Clukey is unable to attend the state competition, Haley will be able to take her place.

Michael O'Keefe is an intern with the State University of New York at Plattsburgh.

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