How PLEN Made Me More Self-Aware

I learned about PLEN my freshman year of college but I put it off for years. Coming from an immigrant working class family, I did not think I would be able to afford the trip. However, with the help of my government professor and a previous PLEN ambassador, I was encouraged to sign up my senior year and apply for a scholarship.  Through the generosity of Valerie Jackson, I was selected as a scholarship recipient to attend the Women, Law, and Legal Advocacy Seminar in D.C. Looking back, I am still amazed at all I accomplished. PLEN gave me the opportunity to network with some of the most ambitious and diverse group of women in D.C. from all over the country. I am forever grateful to PLEN for the opportunity to achieve a dream of mine to visit the nation’s capital.

PLEN opened my eyes to a world of opportunities I never thought possible. In three short days I gained the skills I need to advance my career. I was challenged to get out of my comfort zone and effectively network, I learned how to negotiate a salary, and I had my resume critiqued and improved by professionals. Thanks to PLEN, I gained the confidence I need to enter the workforce.

Leaving for the trip, I was nervous and unsure what to expect; but the seminar left me inspired to continue seeking a path toward social change in policy-making. The seminar by far exceeded my expectations. My greatest takeaway from the seminar would be to unapologetically and authentically be myself. It was a recurring theme from the speakers and it continues to resonate with me. It was reassuring to see so many empowered women succeeding in their field and keeping their identity and authenticity.

I am appreciative of all the speakers and PLEN coordinators for their candid and honest advice. Before, I was uncertain what life would be like after graduation; but PLEN left me empowered to pave my own way to success with the knowledge of having a group of PLEN alumna supporting me along the way. If you are ready to gain confidence, learn about careers in public policy, and be surrounded by a network of diverse women, I highly encourage you to apply.


Nathaly Contreras attended the 2015 Women, Law, and Legal Advocacy seminar as a senior at Texas Woman's University.

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