Women Empowering Women

From Andrea Lirio


Recently, I had the amazing opportunity to attend the NJ Conference for Women through LILAC, Bryn Mawr’s Leadership, Innovation, and Liberal Arts Center that helps students forge connection between their work in college and beyond. I signed up with the interest to learn more about women in business, and I left with more than I had expected.

No conference is complete without swag!

At the conference, we had a day full of workshops and speeches from amazing women in different fields. While Bryn Mawr always teaches us about women’s empowerment and aiming high, it was amazing to hear the same message from working women from all over the country. Every speech was inspiring and moving!

View of the stage.

The conference wouldn’t have been possible without alum Sharon Harshbarger-Krucera ’90. She was eager to learn more about each of us and give us her insights. We compared dorm rooms and classes with her; it was amazing hearing about her experience at Bryn Mawr and how she went from a History major to a Financial Advisor at Morgan Stanley. She encouraged us to learn more about anything that interests us and assured us that we’d find something we connected with soon enough. This message was a key takeaway from all of the speakers.

Throughout the day, all of the powerful and influential women shared their story: what state they were in after school, how they were completely lost at one point, and how they ended up where they are now. Their stories were amazing, especially as I struggle with the unknown and uncertain. They reminded us over and over again that it’s ok to be uncertain and that we need to take everything as it comes to find something that we’re passionate about.

Keynote speaker Lisa Tanzer, President of Life is Good, ended the event and brought this message home. Her speech and delivery were amazing. If you don’t know Life is Good’s message, you should take some time now to do a quick Google search. Lisa explained how her friend from high school called her and asked her for a favor right after college. This favor grew into what is now known as Life is Good and the Life is Good Kids Foundation. Her lesson: You never know what a small favor may lead to.

Lisa also reminded us to stop taking things for granted. Instead of complaining about how you have to go to school or have to go to work or have to go grocery shopping, think about it as you get to go to school, you get to go to work because you have a job, and you get to go grocery shopping. Changing comments like that in your life, will change the way you think of what you have.

Group photo with keynote speaker Lisa Tanzer, President of Life is Good, at the NJ Conference for Women

What all of the amazing speakers summarized is that nothing in life is entirely planned and perfect. Embracing uncertainty is the first step to finding yourself. I loved being able to hear from so many amazing mentors in the room. I would have never been able to have this experience without LILAC or Sharon. I wanted to thank them both. I also wanted to thank the speakers for telling their stories and inspiring the next generation. I can’t wait to apply everything I’m absorbed and learned into my academic and post-academic life.

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