Leadership Conference Inspires, Motivates Women

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The Women's Resource Center hosted its fourth annual Women's Leadership Conference last Friday and Saturday.

The conference was highlighted by the keynote speaker Alexis Jones, a former Survivor contestant and founder of the I Am That Girl foundation.

"It's a two-day conference with a dinner then an all-day event on Saturday," said Emily Butler, junior in human development and family studies. "Our theme this year is no limits: dream it, live it, pass it on."

Students from local high schools and regional colleges such as Troy University and Georgia Tech gathered at the Auburn Hotel and Dixon Conference Center and in the Student Center to learn about issues women face such as their professional lives, their personal relationships and their body image.

Donna Sollie, assistant provost for the Women's Initiative and director of the Women's Resource Center, said Jones' message truly fit the theme of this year's conference.

"I think the main message from Alexis and the reason she started her company is to provide a way to inspire women; to the reference department. "We are dedicating this to the new learning commons. This was something informal for the students to come in here and enjoy and hopefully get to know the place."

Students were previously asked what they would like to have done the open space and this is what the basically be confident, to believe in themselves, to believe in each other and to realize anything is possible in their futures," Sollie said. "Her message is if you empower women, you can change the world so she wants to give that message to each person she speaks to, to really live that passion."

Katelyn Shanahan, senior in political science and undergraduate cochair of the women's leadership conference, said she was inspired by the weekend's events.

"I think with all of the women that we heard speak that you couldn't help but to start thinking about the dreams you have in own personal everyday life and want to start living them out," Shanahan said. "There was this energy there that made you want to find your own dream that day and start living it out."

Shanahan said events such as the Women's Leadership Conference are important, not only for Auburn University, but for the entire community and for women in general.

"I think that there are a lot of great women leaders out there, but they're not always the ones you see publicly," Shanahan said. "A lot of public leaders are not great role models, but then you have a women leader like Alexis Jones, who is one of the most fabulous role models I've ever had the opportunity of meeting. It's important to bring someone like that to the community to let everyone of every age know there are great female role models."

The Women's Leadership Conference is different not only because of it's message, but because it is run predominately by the students of the Women's Resource Center, Sollie said.

The conference was run by two graduate-level cochairs and two undergraduate-level co-chairs who oversaw the operation of all of the other student-led committees.

"These students did an incredible job," Sollie said. "This is the fourth year we've done this and every year I'm always so ed while others are trying to study next to them.

Students are able to interact and talk more freely without worrying about distracting others.

"It's really the environment here that makes it better," O'Grady said. "When you are at home or in your dorm that is a place for you to rest and relax. This is a place for studying and to get your mind off of other things." impressed with the attention to detail and creative abilities they have--their energy and their focus. They show a commitment to making sure every aspect is thought about and taken care of. I could not be prouder of these young women."

Butler said she hopes people take the message of the conference to heart.

"It's really a take home message," Butler said. "We want people to think about what they do in their lives and apply that message. We also hope we see people come out and get involved in the center because it's not just a two-time thing. The resource center is always on campus."

The Women's Resource Center, in Mary Martin Hall, is open during regular business hours.

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