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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Cal Poly chapter.

On March 1st, 2024 Cal Poly’s Women In Business hosted their annual event “Defining Her Future.” Hundreds of Cal Poly’s determined women arrived in their best corporate baddie outfits ready to hear inspiring speeches, participate in interactive workshops, and network with women who have paved their way into the business world. It was truly such an encouraging experience to not only be in the presence of successful women but to be surrounded by hundreds of Cal Poly young women striving to make their way and support their counterparts at every step. 

The theme of this year’s event was titled “Persist” and I think this was such an important theme to stand behind, especially for college women. As a second year at Cal Poly, I can certainly say there have been hundreds of times when the word “persist” has defined my experiences. From being a part of the small College of Liberal Arts at a Polytechnic school to feeling imposter syndrome and displacement within my major, I have persisted in creating a good community to surround me and confidence that I am at Cal Poly for a reason.

The speakers of the event were an incredible highlight to this event. The speaker whose story I connected with most was Melisa Zárate. Melisa was a Cal Poly student who graduated about six years ago. She was a first-generation student whose parents only spoke Spanish at home and could not offer her much academic advice as she entered college. During her first year, Melisa was placed on academic probation due to her grades and knew she had to turn things around. She spoke of her winter quarter in her first year at Cal Poly. During those ten weeks, she built a community around her that would be encouraging and supportive in her academic journey. She found better ways to study and new ways to keep herself motivated. As a third-year at Cal Poly, Melisa was one of a few students to receive a dream job offer from a well-established company. As someone who has struggled with motivation and being my best self, I found it so inspiring that Melisa chose to become the person she is today. Of course, she was on probation, but no one supported her change more than herself and I think that is a wonderful feat.

One of the most impressive things about the Defining Her Future conference is the effort and work that goes into putting it on. Women in Business get the opportunity to practice marketing strategies and event planning for months before the actual event. They are active on Instagram (give them a follow @definingherfuture), they work to reach out to keynote speakers, and they organize special touches like the adorable swag bags they gave to attendees! Here’s what Her Campus member and the Marketing Strategist Lead of DHF Valerie Medina had to say about watching all the work and passion become reality through the conference.

“The Defining Her Future committee organized the conference over the span of 12+ weeks, and it was so fulfilling and exciting to see everything come together to benefit the community. Throughout the process, our vision was to provide students with opportunities to connect, learn, and thrive through speaker panels, workshops, and networking sessions. As the marketing strategy lead, my team and I oversaw content production, budget allocation for conference merchandise, and orchestrating engaging activities. Seeing attendees enjoying the merchandise, winning giveaway items from social media, and interacting with our activities was truly rewarding. My favorite part of the conference was seeing our conference theme, “Persist,” come to life and highlight the importance of recognizing our perseverance in overcoming challenges and adversities.”

-Valerie Medina

I think we definitely saw the effect of those engaging activities as during breaks in the conference, women had the opportunity to take headshots, network with businesses, and enjoy a sandwich from Mr. Pickle! Overall the Defining Her Future Event was incredibly inspiring and I can’t wait to go again next year. I mean…any excuse to buy a cute pair of business casual shoes! I strongly suggest all women (Business Major or not) to check out Defining Her Future in 2025. You will feel so supported by the community created there and learn so much from the wonderful speakers they host. Follow @definingherfuture on Instagram to stay updated!

Savannah Aguiar

Cal Poly '26

Savannah Aguiar is a second-year English major at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Aside from writing, she enjoys sunsets, photography, reading, and coffee.