Anna tells us of her time in Washington D.C. attending NeW’s annual National Conference
Before I get into my experiences at the NeW NC, let me introduce myself. My name is Anna Horzempa and I am a rising sophomore at East Carolina University, NC. At ECU, I am a cadet in Air Force ROTC and a student mentor for the College of Engineering and Technology. I heard about NeW through my sister, Maggie. She is the president of NeW and College Republicans at UNC Chapel Hill. East Carolina does not have a NeW Chapter, but with avid networking, I am hoping to get the word out about the Network of Enlightened Women.
Bright and early on Thursday, June 23, my sister Maggie and I set off to Washington DC to take on the NeW National Conference at Hillsdale College Kirby Center. I was ready to explore the Nation’s capital with my best friend and looking forward to learning, networking, and empowering each other at the NeW NC. After getting settled into the hotel, Maggie and I headed out in our professional dress to kick off NeW’s National Conference. Within seconds of taking a few steps in my black pumps, I felt the blisters from my 3-mile ruck march from the previous day during a professional development training through Air Force ROTC. Taking a deep breath and putting on some fresh band-aids, I continued to walk with my chin up and a smile from ear-to-ear. This small divot of my experience sets the tone for how setting out with your best foot forward is the most empowering thing you can do, even though you might have to rock a hello kitty bandaids on your heels.
When the conference began, we had the opportunity to introduce ourselves with our name, university, and major. Only being halfway through the group and knowing three facts about the majority of the room, I saw a correlation between most attendees. Most girls were majoring in some type of politically geared degree like political science with future aspirations of being a lawyer, lawmaker, and future female leader. I was undoubtedly one of the outlier majors, computer science with aspirations of becoming a pilot in the US Air Force. Although we had diverse academic paths, our career dreams were all intertwined with the same strong, empowering root of being female leaders.
Throughout the speaker’s insightful discussions and speeches, my eyes were opened to some aspects of being career-minded that I had not given much detailed thought. For instance, points were made such as paid maternity leave or breaking through culture related barriers. Having the opportunity to attend NeW’s National Conference prompted me to think about the future and provided me with a conservative insight into different topics. I found myself making connections with what we discussed at NC to what I had learned during my professional development training with AFROTC.
Between speakers, during lunch, on uber rides to the Kirby Center, and back at the hotel with our roommate, there was always an opportunity for networking and conversation. Sharing ideas and experiences is what provides young leaders with the diverse perspective that is sought after in leaders. Engaging in conversations with fellow members about chapter happenings, speaker’s discussion topics, and just talking can enlighten any young woman with a new perspective.