by Katrina Samuels
(pictured on left)
As I tip-toed in the back door of a small Georgetown University classroom, a man standing between two pink and black children's basketball goals greeted me loudly. I, being untimely as ever, apologized for my lateness and quickly took a seat at the front of the room. This man was the workshop presenter, Matt Supple, and he appeared out of place at the conference of National College Women Student Leaders. His presence seemed odd in part because this was a conference of more than 500 women centered around the issues, concerns and power of women. I was a bit skeptical about exactly what he could bring to a workshop entitled "Creating Vision: the Ability to See Your Goals." I scanned the brightly lettered signs hanging about the room as he began to discuss them. My skepticism was quickly alleviated as I listened to Mr. Supple discuss the importance of leaders creating vision in those whom they lead. My last bit of doubt disappeared and my interest peaked when he defined a powerful vision as, "a compelling, bold, and transforming future picture." With these words, the entire incredible experience of the past two days was synthesized for me.
Finally, I was able to articulate the stirring emotion and excitement the conference awakened in me. The women leaders who participated in this event hailed from 42 states and two countries. They represented ideas and concerns equally as diverse as their places of origin. They brought voices of strength, femininity, and change as advocates and aides to legislators on Capitol Hill. They had concerns about issues like funding for higher education, the rights and protection of children, and saving the environment. They had open minds and unbridled passion as they discussed feminism, affirmative action, health care, and politics. Perhaps most of all they had a hurricane-like power and unyielding commitment to transform the future. All of these women-college students, presidents, directors, workers, mothers-displayed an awe-inspiring, unflinching conviction to do everything possible to direct the course of our world for the better.
Thus, the man who at first seemed so out of place to me proved to be metaphorically on target about my experience of the fourteenth annual National Conference for College Women Student Leaders created a lasting vision for every woman involved. I left energized and renewed. The often overwhelming responsibilities and burdens of work, school and life were made lighter by the names, faces and spirit of the women there who also do it all and do it well. I feel certain that together we will achieve a vision which is compelling, bold and transforming to the future.
Katrina Samuels is a senior at Emory College where she is pre-med and majoring in Human & Natural Ecology. She is a member of the Voices of Inner Strength Choir and the Society of African-American leaders. She is the President of the Emory chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha and has twice been named as a National Institutes of Health Research Fellow.
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