Earlier this month, AHCCS junior Anna Riordan, from Perkasie Pennsylvania had the opportunity to attended the Pennsylvania Conference for Women in Philadelphia. Anna has been a student at AHCCS since the fall of 2016, and enjoys cyber school since it allows her to work with her teachers to create a learning environment that is flexible and allows her to grow academically.
The conference took place at the Pennsylvania Convention Center and offers inspiration, motivation, networking, personal & professional development, and community. We checked in with Anna to see how her day at the conference went and learn more about this amazing experience!
What was your schedule for the day?
Our day started around 6:00 am. My mom and I got ready in our hotel, which was next to the convention center. We chose to stay over the night before instead of waking up at 4:00 am to drive to Philadelphia. The conference hall opened at 7:00 am where twelve-thousand excited attendees flocked to the front doors to shuffle slowly through security.
Once we were in, conference attendees raced through the conference hall to claim the best seats to hear the exciting morning Keynote speakers. We herd from Action News anchor, Tamala Edwards, Philadelphia’s Mayor Jim Kenney, executive vice president of Bristol-Myers Squibb Sandra Leung, vice chairman, wealth management, managing director and senior client advisor at Morgan Stanley Carla Harris, VP of market strategy, enterprise infrastructure solutions group (EISG) ay Cisco System Ehrika Gladden, writer and producer Shonda Rhimes, VP of brand marketing and advertising at Prudential Niharika Shah, and NTY best-selling author Shawn Achor.
The first Breakout Session took place at 10:00 am, and I attended the Young Women’s session “Think Differently: Feeling Confident about Taking the Lesser Known Path”. The next breakout session was specifically part of the Young Women’s Program for high school juniors and seniors called “Success on Your Terms: Empowering Your Way to THE BIG LIFE”.
The Keynote Luncheon started around 1:00 pm and featured more speakers including Monica Malpass, Leslie Stiles, Dr. Brené Brown, Joanne Ryder and Kathy Sledge. This was also where attendees were treated to conversation with Former First Lady Michelle Obama and the incredible author, creator, and producer, Shonda Rhimes.
By 3:00 pm I was exhausted from all of the fun and ended up walking through the exhibition hall and attending fifteen-minute social media roundtable discussions that were more informal discussions on different aspects of social media and business. After one last sweep through the convention hall, my mom and I headed home with new experiences, connections, and a renewed sense of hope and possibility.
What was your favorite session of the day?
The most incredible part of my day was listening to Shonda Rhimes interview Michelle Obama. Most of the interview was a discussion on the importance of using your voice to not only represent and defend yourself, but to also defend and advance those who do not yet have their voices heard. This discussion was also a very necessary reminder for me that staying silent in the face of injustice is not remaining neutral. The one quote that really stood out to me was from Michelle Obama, “Don’t waste your seat at the table. If you are not going to use your voice, give it up to someone who will.”
The conference hosted a few sessions to focus on young women and high school age students – what were those like?
The first panel aimed at students was led by Stephanie Kaplan Lewis, co-founder of Her Campus, on having confidence while taking the lesser known path. Panelists from TechGirlz, Latina Media Ventures, and QVC discussed the rewards and happiness of allowing yourself to use your passions to build your life, even if it means venturing down new paths that are unknown and away from the crowd.
The second session for young women was a discussion led by Ann Shoket, former editor-in-chief of Seventeen Magazine, on creating the life you want to live. Her session emphasized that there is no big secret or special talent required to living the life you want, the key is resilience, it’s all about how you handle bumps in the road. Shoket challenged us to see a dead end as an opportunity to create a new route rather than seeing it as a failure, and build a habit of adapting to obstacles instead of giving up.