Five Focus Program students attended the Stanford Young Women’s Leadership Summit, a 2-day conference for high school girls hosted by the Stanford Women in Business organization. Jeanette Andia '21, Amanda Coye '21, Ava Brown '22, Saori Cochachin '22, and Sarah Stern '22 attended the empowering event, which was held virtually this year. Keynote speakers were followed by workshops focused on professional and positive communication, career exploration, issues of race and gender, social media potential, and personal priorities and dreams.
Written by Saori Cochachin '22
Two inspirational keynote speakers, Vernice "FlyGirl" Armour and Melanie Chandra, began each day, to share their experiences as they pursued their careers along with their struggles and aspirations. Vernice "FlyGirl" Armour shared her journey of wanting to become a police officer and later involving herself in the Marine Corps as the first African-American female combat pilot. From her struggles to successes, she talked about how she handled her toughest days while radiating strength and power throughout her speech. Melanie Chandra, a graduate of Stanford, is currently an actor. She spoke about how the lack of ethnic representation in Hollywood and other disadvantages she had growing up affected her career journey. Her stories were heartfelt as she spoke kindly and confidently. Both keynote speakers shared inspirational stories that emphasized the importance of listening to your gut and allowing yourself to explore your career. Vernice "FlyGirl" Armour even wore a shirt that stated, "be gutsy," which correlated to her discussion topic.
After each presenter spoke, the Stanford Women in Business took over to inform us on crucial topics in a workspace. On the first day, we discussed tips on how to have professional conversations, how to distinguish and approach microaggressions, and the importance of empowerment. We began by creating our own "elevator pitches," which is essentially a practiced introduction about yourself that can be said to a future employer. I found this super helpful because it is a structured, simple outline of how to introduce yourself, which I know I will use during a job interview. Then, we heard examples of microaggressions related to multiple identity factors such as race and gender. In breakout rooms, we shared our own personal experiences while listening to and empowering one another. I learned how to identify microaggressions and how to confront others about them appropriately.
On the second and last day, the workshop included career exploration topics, how to use social media to your advantage, and leadership skill-building. They provided helpful tips on using Twitter and LinkedIn to find mentors and expand your networking platform. They also helped us reflect on our interests and aspirations for the profession we want to pursue by asking us questions such as what our priorities are, what our dream work environment looks like, and what impacts we want to have on the community. In breakout rooms, we shared our passions and answers to these questions.
I appreciated how the summit provided general information on career exploration for the attendees while also giving specifics on various career paths such as Medicine and not limiting the summit to strictly business-focused careers. From the keynote speakers, I learned the importance of tackling obstacles and the hidden opportunities that come with them and, most importantly, to "be gutsy." The workshops gave lots of relevant information on issues in the workspace, how to handle them, and how to take advantage of future job tips in the near future.
Jeanette Andia ’21 reflects, “The Young Women's Leadership Summit last weekend was one of the most eye-opening and insightful conferences I have ever attended. They helped us work on personal issues, such as confidence and explained how the lack of confidence can affect our work lives. [I enjoyed] Melanie Chandra, who is living proof that it is never too late to follow your dreams. She taught us that doing what you love is just as important as making a living and explained how she was able to bridge the two together. Melanie ended her talk by saying "Success isn't about how your life looks to others. It's about how it feels to you" (Michelle Obama), reminding us to take that leap of faith.
Amanda Coye ’21 learned "that it is okay to follow our dreams and to work hard to obtain it. I enjoyed the summit because it taught me that it is okay to stand up for what I believe in and to work hard in any field we decide to go into.”
Sarah Stern ’22 adds, “We also did breakout groups where we would meet other high school girls all around California. We also heard from/engaged with Stanford girls who are not part of the Stanford Women in Business Program who shared their experiences and also answered questions. Overall, it was an amazing two days!"
Ava Brown '22 says, "I learned a lot about female empowerment in the workplace and in leadership roles! I learned ways to empower myself such as self-love, affirmations, confidence, etc. One of the topics we touched on was girls supporting girls, and I think it is so important to make sure we support each other and lift each other up! Being a leader is making sure everyone is supported and heard, and standing up for what is right and standing up for yourself and others is just so important!"