The Women’s Empowerment Program held its first panel of inspiring female speakers on Wednesday, Sept. 20th in the O’Hara Dining Room to address the obstacles that young women leaders face and how to overcome them.
Women’s Empowerment is a program through the Center for Student Diversity that allows a positive space for students of all identities to discuss women’s issues, experiences and successes. Tirrany Thurmond, the Director of the Center for Student Diversity and Jamie Wright, Assistant Director, held the “Unstoppable” panel to bring five successful women together: Yasmine Saibou, Jamie Brown, Alicia Williams, Marilyn Figueroa, and Sarah Deysher.
The panelists engaged in a Q&A on how young women can overcome challenges in a career field. Thurmond described the panel as, “a way to celebrate the beauty and strength of women.” Wright helped direct the panel in able to provide female students with the opportunity to feel empowered, find role models of different backgrounds and interests and share with the student body.
The discussion focused on the question of how the panelists prepared for a given career and how they would define success. Williams, a health professional, addressed her initial goals as a young high school student to attend an Ivy League college, become a doctor and marry a professional football player. These dreams, she realized, were unrealistic expectations she had set for herself. “Education takes you down different roads and experiences that you don’t always expect,” stated Williams.
Many of the panelists agreed with Williams that one may have a different view of success pre and post college. Deysher, the Assistant University Counselor of Mount St. Mary’s University, addressed how she had also set up goals that she believed would determine how successful she would be after graduating. While attainable, these ambitions belonged not to herself, but to her father. “I followed in my father’s footsteps,” said Deysher. She had put these expectations on herself and went for a Bachelor’s degree in biology. Although she was successful in the classroom, Deysher felt that it was not her own dream. “Success has intrinsic value. It’s how you define your own value, what’s important to you.” She recommends students to follow the passions that best suit the individual. “Take advantages of all the experiences you can,” she advised. Both Williams and Deysher emphasized the importance of defining success as personal and unique to oneself. Williams stated, “If I am physically healthy and emotionally healthy, have good relationships with friends and family, am I good. That’s success for me.”