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Today, Olivet College held the inaugural Cultivating Women Leaders event, Embracing Our Inner Strength, with the purpose to inspire and equip young women to grow into responsible leaders. The event comes as part of the Presidential Women’s Leadership Initiative, chaired by Presidential Spouse Traci Corey.

“I believe the best way to create a better future for our young women is to present them with meaningful opportunities to learn and grow in a way that encourages them to self-advocate,” said Corey. To see positive change, Corey knows that the issues women face must be addressed head-on and that working together is the best way to make a difference.

Attendees of the event, including current and prospective students, faculty, staff, alumni, community members and business leaders from Michigan and neighboring states, were given the opportunity to network and receive professional and personal development from Olivet College’s most successful alumnae, as well as Michigan’s finest women business leaders. Obstacles and challenges that are present in today’s communities and workplace, and more importantly, how to overcome those issues were discussed.

Each participant attended three of five offered breakout sessions including Breaking the Stereotype; Effective Communication Skills; Recognizing the Dynamic Leader Within; Great, I Graduated, Now What?!; and Personal Financial Planning, in addition to a presentation by Danielle Scott-Arruda and a panel of Olivet College alumnae. Songs, poems and other remarks were also shared by several current Olivet students, college leadership, board of trustees members and the Gospel Choir.

In Breaking the Stereotype, attendees learned the dos and don’ts for women effectively leading men, while working in male dominated fields from Tiffany Dowling, Sarah Jennings, CPA, CFE, and John Porterfield. “Every day put our A-game out there. Let your work stand for itself,” said Tiffany Dowling, president and CEO of M3 Group. “People will gravitate toward you if you are doing the job and doing it great.”

Effective Communication Skills included speaking and leading with confidence, leading as an introvert in an extrovert world, how to work a room and nonverbal communication skills. Speakers Sheri Jones, Karla Middlebrooks and Tricia Foster offered women several tips on appearing as confident as men. For example, men typically introduce themselves with their first and last name, whereas women usually only say their first name. To make a more prominent first impression, they recommended woman adapt the first name/last name introduction as well.

Recognizing the Dynamic Leader Within offered tips to build your leadership skills, staying motivated and moving forward, presented by Paula Cunningham, Margaret Dimond, Ph.D., and Glenda Price. These presenters left women with advice such as lead with passion, lead to serve others and help others recognize you as a leader by seeking additional responsibilities.

In Great, I Graduated, Now What?! Darlene Lee, Ph.D., and Judge Denise Page Hood presented on standing out from the pack, landing the job you want, resume building and interviewing skills as well as negotiating equal pay for equal work. They advised women to take on the world with a “can-do” attitude and to prove yourself in a new career by not being afraid to assume responsibility as often as possible. In addition, Lee and Hood stressed the importance of networking by reminding participants it’s not optional, it’s necessary.

Mary Tyler and Deborah Davis delivered the Personal Financial Planning session. Participants were especially interested to learn more about tackling student loan debt. One of the best ways to begin paying loan debt is to begin contributing as much extra money as you can to your smallest loan first, then working your way to the larger ones. Remember to celebrate the achievement of paying off a loan to motivate yourself to keep working to minimize your debts.

The luncheon opened with the Olivet Gospel Choir giving a moving and inspirational performance of “Four Women,” by Nina Simone.

Luncheon keynote speaker Danielle Scott-Arruda, five-time volleyball Olympian and two-time silver medalist, shared her personal journey from daughter to Olympian to mother to role model and leader. She encouraged every woman in attendance to find a passion, something they are willing to make sacrifices for in order to achieve. “Dream big, take action, and never give up” she said. “And tell yourself, I am perfectly made. I am enough.”

Following the keynote speaker, the Olivet College Alumnae Panel took the stage. Panelists included G. Asenath Andrews ’72, “Eunice” Adeola Fayehun ’07, Breanna O’Keefe ’08, D.O., and Stephie Wilson ’13. Sheri Jones, news anchor for WLNS TV 6 Lansing, served as moderator. With bits of humor mixed in, the panel spoke of their time and experiences while at Olivet College and how their studies helped propel a successful career. “The best thing you can do is be yourself,” said “Eunice” Adeola Fayehun, producer of SaharaTV. “With a little hard work, you’ll show off your unique talents and that’s so impressive when there are others around you just following the pack.”

Throughout the day, attendees also had the pleasure of hearing from Steven M. Corey, Ph.D., president of Olivet College; Traci Corey, presidential spouse and chair of the Presidential Women’s Leadership Initiative; Maria Davis, Ph.D., provost and dean; Lisa Lehman, assistant vice president for admissions; Kelly Rossman-McKinney, CEO of Truscott Rossman and member of the Olivet College Board of Trustees; Mona Hinamanu, Olivet College senior and President’s Leadership Institute Fellow; and Dominique Giroux, junior and President’s Leadership Institute Fellow.

Traci Corey concluded the event by reminding the women in attendance, “If we stand together, we’ll rise together.”

Olivet College looks forward to the second annual Cultivating Women Leaders event on March, 2, 2018.

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