More than half of undergraduate and graduate degree recipients are women! This is what I learned this evening at an event co-hosted by Smarty-LA, Step Up Women’s Network, and UCLA, titled “The Future Wears High Heels”. At this event, Willow Bay, editor of the Huffington Post set the tone of the event with that statistic.
This event was particularly inspiring, as I could not stop thinking about empowering the youth of this country; illiteracy and high school drop out rates are on the rise. What can we do?
It made me remember that when I was in high school, as an honor student, year-round athlete, job-holding, active school leadership, (obsessive over-achieving) student, one of my teachers had told me, with his finger in my face, that I “could talk a good game, but [I] would never amount to anything.” Then, a couple of years later at UC Davis, a faculty advisor at the career center told me that having the ambition to make a difference in the world and wanting to be a leader in my industry “is unrealistic, and [I] likely will be very disappointed when [I] discover that [I] should be happy to be part of the average work force…”
There is nothing wrong with being happy and content with being part of a strong work force; however, I don’t believe it is acceptable for influential educational leaders to crush the dreams of potential leaders of the future. Having had the opportunity to interact with students in today’s public schools, such crushing words are commonplace. Will this change the amazing statistic that Ms. Bay had shared with the sea of women tonight or does that mean women have the strength and will to disprove “society”?
I inherited stubborn character traits, much to my parents’ dismay. As such, the words of discouragement motivate me to prove disbelievers wrong–that I and other entrepreneurs can carve their place in society and future leaders of industry, large and small, and continue to be the employers of future college grads.
In short, as this blog post appears to be a stream of consciousness (or semi-consciousness since I am writing well past my bedtime) and digression from my usual wellness theme…I ask you, my peers, to give our youth–our girls–more encouragement and empowerment to say yes to opportunity, to defy some so-called authority figures sometimes, take risks, ask questions, accept leadership roles, act in the face of fear, tackle new challenges…Words of discouragement always seem to scream loudest. However, if we continue to encourage youth daily, they may just become inspired to disprove their naysayers and disbelievers.
“Paying it forward” is very much a part of one’s own personal development; thus, I have not digressed–self-development and advancement is very much a part of holistic health and wellness.