Nine University of Lynchburg students traveled to Richmond last week to attend the first Women’s Leadership Development Summit hosted by the Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges. The three-day conference featured nearly 80 participants from 14 institutions across the Commonwealth.
From Thursday to Saturday, students attended a series of lectures and workshops to “strengthen their leadership skills, learn firsthand from leaders who have forged the way to increase the representation of women in the C-Suite, and experience what it means to prepare for a corporate internship and career,” said Mary-Beth Johnson, the VFIC’s chief operating officer. The schedule also included a tour of the Virginia State Capitol and the newly dedicated Virginia Women’s Monument.
“I really enjoyed being able to come together with so many other female student leaders from different college campuses around Virginia,” said Arlington native Lilla Oliver ’21, who majors in political science with a minor in psychological science.
For Madi Rechenberg ’20, an exercise physiology major with a minor in sports medicine, getting to network with other undergraduate women was especially valuable, too.
“I learned that there are a lot of different types of leaders and that everyone has their own unique leadership style,” Rechenberg said. I learned a lot about how I lead by observing how other women in leadership positions lead at their own universities. I was able to bring home some ideas on how I can change my leadership style to better accommodate those I work and volunteer with.”
She also discovered that graduating from college isn’t so scary after all — and that she’s already in a pretty good spot.
“I was excited to learn that I am much more prepared for graduation and life after college than I thought I was,” said the Wake Forest, North Carolina, native. “I was encouraged by conversations with other students and with our guest speakers on where I am right now in the graduate school application process and what I have to look forward to as I plan to pursue a doctorate degree following the completion of my undergraduate degree.”
The conference, she added, opened her eyes to all of the details a future career might hold. Currently, Rechenberg plans to pursue a career in the health field as a physical therapist.
“While my time in graduate school will prepare me to work with patients, this conference helped me to understand what all comes with a career,” she said. That includes résumés, interviewing, and networking, she added, but also “what to do once you land the job, building relationships with coworkers and superiors, and being prepared to face difficult conversations regarding topics such as workplace sexual harassment and failure to succeed.”