I first saw a flyer for the PLEN Women’s Leadership in Public Policy Seminar on my college website, but never thought that I would be able to go. I come from a working class family, and the cost of flying across the country for the seminar was definitely not in our budget. I am so grateful for the support I received from PLEN, Jane O’Grady, Sandra Swirski, and Jona Van Deun. This opportunity would not have been possible without them.
Attending the seminar was definitely a life-changing experience because it taught me the importance of networking and building relationships throughout my career. I felt empowered by the various workshops including salary negotiation and resume building. The friendships I made at PLEN have continued to grow although we are no longer in DC together. I made friends from India, China, Portugal, and five different states; I met amazing women from non-profit, government, and corporate organizations.
The seminar exceeded my expectations and made me feel confident and prepared to pursue a career in public policy. The seminar confirmed my thoughts and motivated me to continue pursing my goals. As a Latina woman, I am motivated to increase the representation of women of color in Washington, D.C. The greatest advice I learned in the seminar was to never doubt my own potential and to persevere even when the odds are against me. I learned that my weaknesses are not weaknesses, but rather they are areas for improvement and growth. I learned that even if I do not fulfill every job requirement on an application, I apply anyway. I learned that as women we have to help each other, not tear one another down, and the PLEN network definitely provides me that support.
I am proud to be a PLEN alumna, and I know that every woman who goes through this program will do great things one day. The next time you see a flyer for something that seems impossible, don’t shy away. One opportunity leads to another, and you never know what you can achieve unless you try.
Alicia Frausto received a scholarship sponsored by Jane O’Grady, Sandra Swirski, and Jona Van Deun to attend the 2015 Women’s Leadership in Public Policy seminar. She attended the seminar as a sophomore at Claremont McKenna College.