Students React to Advancing Women’s Leadership

On September 12th, the inspirational Advancing Women’s Leadership conference was held at Pacific. The event was created to encourage young women to pursue dreams and careers that may lie outside of the gender norm. Speakers at the conference included a multitude of successful women who chose to reject discouragement from peers in order to become the best versions of themselves.

Such speakers included concert pianist, author, and speaker Jade Simmons, President of Bank of America Janet Lamkin, and headliner Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer of Facebook. Also in attendance were students from over 20 high schools, in addition to some of our very own UOP students as audience members.

When asked which speaker she related to most, 11th grader Sagrario Jaramillo Martinez of the Health Careers Academy responded that she felt most connected to Jade Simmons.

“I loved how she interacted with us through (both) her experiences and her music, it was really nice,” Martinez said.

Grace Song ‘21 also said that she loved Simmons’ performance; she explained that her determination to succeed despite the various setbacks in her piano career was very inspirational. Through her powerful performance, Jade Simmons surely became a role model for many students attending the conference.

Speaker Janet Lamkin mentioned during her speech that one of the key elements on the road to success is having mentors or role models to look up to. When asked who their mentors are, many students mentioned strong female figures in their lives such as their mothers, teachers, or older sisters. A senior at Edison High School, Jasmine Domino even said that she looks up to current District Attorney Tori Verber Salazar, because she would one day love to become a district attorney herself.

In order to become successful in careers like these, speakers also mentioned that certain traits such as assertiveness, confidence, and leadership are necessary to have. When asked what they think it takes to be successful, many students gave similar responses. One anonymous student, from Cesar Chavez High School, said that she thinks that it is important for women to speak up for what they believe in, even if others don’t agree with you.

“This way, we can help to bring about change that other people may be too afraid to do themselves,” the student said.

With such inspiring and empowering presentations from all speakers at the conference, young women in the audience were left with a brightened outlook on their futures and the confidence to pursue their dreams. The speakers provided students with the tools they need to push their fears aside and become exactly who they want to be. In the words of Sheryl Sandberg, I will now ask you all, “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?”

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