From the time I first received the email from my Women’s & LGBT Center notifying me of the opportunity for this conference, I was elated and transfixed on the idea that here was the next step to reaching my dream career. Later that night, I pored over the PLEN website and kept going back to a testimonial from an alumna scholarship recipient, “Just do it. Just go. Do whatever you have to do to get there.” So despite my usually reserved and anti-risk-taking nature, I took the plunge. I am grateful for the scholarship that made this a reality for me.
I’m still amazed by the places I got to visit and the amazingly accomplished women I got to meet. A highlight for me was the site visit to Human Rights Watch – the organization that as a human rights major I’ve been following for years – in which our small group had the privilege of an informal discussion with the Deputy Director about her role in the Legal Division. She shared what advocacy looks like from HRW’s stance to influence global policy to respect customary international humanitarian law and treaties of international human rights law.
PLEN taught me the value of connections. I have come away with a network of peers passionate about the same policy issues that ignite me and pushing the limits on where their talents and skills can take them. As alumnae, these future women leaders are offering me their gracious counsel to illuminate my path as well. Friendships made during the conference week will be cherished for a lifetime. I know that, if not anything else, becoming connected with such a stellar community of women leaders was worth it all.
Ella Kennickell attended the 2015 Women in Global Policy seminar as a senior at Southern Methodist University. She received a scholarship sponsored by TE Connectivity to attend this seminar.