PREVAIL: A Women's Leadership Conference

On Sunday, September 16, several women gathered in the Student Life Center for the annual PREVAIL conference. The goals of this conference were to inspire women across campus and highlight each woman’s strengths. Several aspects of the conference truly brought meaning to the phrase “empowered women empower women.”

Prior to the event, each attendee was asked to complete a CliftonStrengths strengths assessment, of which there are a total of 34. The assessment reports each individual’s top 5 strengths. The session on strengths was followed by two hour long blocks. Each block had a variety of sessions the ladies could choose to attend, and had a different theme.

I attended “Fearless Networking, presented by Amanda Moore (Career Coach for Education and Social Science Vanderbilt Students) and Taylor Carnes (Project Manager for Data Analytics in The Office of Faculty Affairs at Vanderbilt). Networking is difficult, and yet so critical for getting a job and moving forward in a career. However, most students don’t get a chance to take “Networking 101.” In this session, Amanda and Taylor emphasized the importance of talking to somebody. Make a plan, take action, and look beyond the obvious goals. Be a good listener and make friends with everyone you meet. Who knows? The distant acquaintance at your friend’s wedding could lead to your next job!

The second session block I attended was “The Truth About Setting Healthy Boundaries.” Sarah Patton, owner and founder of Social Bliss Events, is an entrepreneur at heart. In this session, she focused on the idea of saying “no.” Oftentimes, as leaders, we feel obligated to take on all the responsibilities we can. We never realize that this weighs us down and is detrimental to our own success. In order to know who we should say “yes” and “no” to, Sarah had us define our inner and outer circles. The people who are near and dear to us and value what we do belong in our inner circle. These are the people you should feel comfortable saying “yes” to. This session was very inspiring and motivated me to reevaluate how I order my responsibilities.

If you’re a woman and you’re seeking empowerment, I highly suggest that you attend next year’s PREVAIL event. One statement that stuck with me from the conference was from Lanier Langdale, Vanderbilt’s VSG Vice President: “Leadership isn’t about braver and confidences… It’s about being willing to instill bravery and confidences in other people.” Frequently, our insecurities hold us back from accomplishing our goals. What defines us as humans is choosing to push past our boundaries and still get s*&% done! Above all else, PREVAIL!