Women Leadership Summit 2022, organized by the Saunders College of Business, was an insightful event for me as I could delve into inspiring stories of women who proved their excellence in their careers and set a benchmark for other women. It was fully packed with various events that went from 8:00 am until 5:30 pm. Being my first big event on campus, honestly, it was a fulfilling experience in every sense. The moment I entered the Student Alumni Union, the venue of the event, I could find women from all walks of life in formal attire, confidently presenting themselves, connecting with each other, and appreciating each other’s achievements. Immediately, I could sense the positive, empathetic and supportive vibe of the space which was very empowering.
RIT has always considered the health and safety of its students a priority. Although the event had a good number of audience members, they encouraged entries for only SpiRit pass holders (fully vaccinated students). The event began with numerous TED talks in the morning session which were eye-opening, taking us through various aspects of leadership. RIT alumni shared their experiences about corporate life, work-life balance, leadership experiences and their struggles and lessons that they have learned so far. Listening to the stories and life experiences of these women, I learned that kindness, compassion, and empathy are the strong pillars of leadership that go along with vision and courage to make decisions and believing in your values. The TED talks ended with a power packed lunch break to continue with the C-Suit Panel. Women from various courses and majors asked questions to the panelists about the issues they face in their daily lives. The room was filled with deep conversations encouraging young women to live their lives on their terms. What fascinated me was the fact that even though this was a women’s conference, yet, I could see a few men present, including but not limited to Dr. David Munson, RIT’s President, asking questions and willing to learn.. As much as we need women to stand up for each other, we also need such men to create healthy work spaces.
I also participated in the BE STEAM challenge (which stands for Business Entrepreneurship & and Art in STEM) that was organized later. It was a fun experience teaming up with young girls from various backgrounds, thinking about the problems we face, coming up with an idea together, forming a company, its vision, goals and what challenges we would face in building it. We had a 90 year old alum in our team who talked about the problems he faces as a wheelchair user while traveling through buildings. That inspired us to form our business idea of creating an app that could navigate through the building interiors letting the users know about the real time paths for people with all types of disabilities. We were appreciated by the judges for the vision that our team projected and ended in the Top 3! All teams worked enthusiastically and presented their ideas on stage. The team with Sunny Spot won the activity that had an idea of heat hubs on campus for saving ourselves from the Rochester winters! Activities like these do help in boosting confidence as well as improving brainstorming and team-building skills. I made a few good friends that day and we connected on LinkedIn as well.
The event ended with a dessert treat for everyone with a networking opportunity to connect and collaborate with each other, which was definitely the cherry on the cake! I could witness strong women lifting each other up and bolstering the sisterhood. I feel my weekend was a lot more productive than what I had imagined it to be. I am grateful to RIT for organizing such events on campus that truly help in empowering women.