A few weeks ago, I was given the amazing privilege to speak to a group of young women at Northern Michigan University at the inaugural LeadHERship conference, sponsored by the student organization Women for Women.
Women for Women is a group that I hold close to my heart, as it was a huge part of my undergraduate experience. Through my involvement, I learned more about what it means to be an empowered young woman and formed lifelong friendships. I gained a love and appreciation for giving back to my community and a much deeper empathy for the struggles of women in the world around me. I just can’t and could never say enough kind things about the impact being in Women for Women had on me.
So when one of the current Women for Women presidents asked me to speak at the conference, I couldn’t say “yes” fast enough! I was honored to be asked and thrilled for the opportunity to be involved in such a great event. But when I got my topic, I suddenly found myself becoming nervous.
My immediate reaction was, “Who am I to stand in front of these young women and talk about confidence in both the workplace and in life? How could I talk about finding your voice? What expertise did I have to discuss finding yourself under the layers of mixed messages received from countless media outlets and personal interactions for our entire lives?”
Then I sat down, drank a cup of coffee and realized “How in the heck am I not qualified?!” So I began to write. I opened my presentation at LeadHERship with the quote I started my post with: “A girl should be two things: who and what she wants.” – Coco Chanel. Although I could rehash my speech, or share some of the great conversations I had with participants throughout the day, I think the bigger point is this: as a young student affairs professional, and an empowered young woman, I need to remember that I have plenty to contribute to my community.
There were plenty of women who empowered me as an undergraduate student and even though I am now only 23, it is my time to do the same. I am not sure where I would be without the support and motivation given to me by my friends, family and mentors. But I am certain that I am not going to get any further in life if I don’t focus on giving that support to other women in my community.
For now, I need to remember that the same things I told these young women are things I must always work to remember myself, and that at the end of the day – there really is no end. Every day is a new opportunity to practice what I “preach” and each and every interaction I have is another opportunity for me to grow and to continue to empower those around me.
This post is part of the Emerging SA Pro series following 4 awesome people: Alexandria, Doug, Emily, and Alexander, as they blog monthly about 1 year of their journey as either a new SA Pro or SA grad student. We are proud to help them share their stories as they break into our field.
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