2013 ICAN Women’s Leadership Conference: A Student’s Perspective

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By Jana Roberts
Student, Creighton University College of Business 2013

I have been given the unique privilege of attending the ICAN Women’s Leadership Conference twice as an undergraduate student. My takeaways from these experiences have been moving, yet vastly different. Last year, as a junior, the day left me feeling motivated about my future – determined to have a lifelong career that I found both important and fulfilling. Today, as a senior, I am strangely more focused on the month of school I have remaining.

ICAN definitely brought their A-game with presenters this year, but I was most affected by Dr. Tererai Trent. It wasn’t her struggles in life that touched me so (though they did not go unnoticed), but the fact that, despite all of them, Dr. Trent had a hunger for her education. It was what she felt she needed more than anything else in the world. Sadly, I have never looked at my education that way.

Growing up in an upper middle class community, graduating high school and going on to college was a given. It wasn’t a matter of if but where. The focus became the prestige of the university, the strength of the alumni network, how fast the career center could secure me a job, etc. (Creighton excels in all of these things, by the way.) Somewhere in that process, I lost a true appreciation for the education I was getting.

What I take for granted, other people would give just about anything for. This is the case in many aspects of my life – food, shelter, safety – but my education, in particular, has definitely seemed like a burden at times. Of this, I am truly ashamed.

How dare I whine about reading assignments? How could I (internally) roll my eyes at constructive criticism from professors when I am so lucky to be educated? It’s a shame I’m only really realizing this now.

Experiencing the ICAN Women’s Leadership Conference inspired me to move forward with a sense of positivity and gratitude that will be the building blocks of my legacy. Just as Dr. Trent spent the first minutes of her speech thanking others, I too will thank those who are responsible for my walk across the stage at graduation. If I can remember the true value of all that I have, then I can bring more value to the people and projects that I touch.