The first time I heard about PLEN was at the National Conference of College Women Leaders held by AAUW. I attended a workshop on Women in Global Policy and Chideza Mufunde mentioned PLEN. At the time I was a recent college graduate searching for my next steps. It was a major transition point, and this conference made it smoother. I am grateful for Valerie Jackson and the PLEN organization for an amazing blessing. This conference has already extended my network, and developed my professional and salary negotiation skills. There are a variety of experiences I can highlight from the Women, Law, and Legal Advocacy Seminar.
My PLEN experience was outstanding and dynamic. As a First Generation Ghanaian American woman, I am intentional about using my voice for justice and equality. There have been times when I questioned if I needed a law degree to do that. The Women, Law, and Legal Advocacy Seminar taught me that I did not, but that realization emboldened me to attend law school. Practicing the law and having the skill set of reading, analyzing, and critically thinking about issues in a unique framework is valuable. Law school is a serious commitment financially, mentally, and emotionally, and it is worth it because there are multiples spaces in the legal field for transformative work through litigation, policy, and advocacy. PLEN motivated me to seriously consider these factors before I attend.
The most integral aspect of my experience was the warrior women I met. PLEN provided me with an outlet to meet women that aspire to be change agents, whether they were freshmen or college graduates. I met women that built illustrious careers in the law and advocacy. They were confident, bold, eloquent, and transparent. Many panelists shared their journey as women, colleagues, and mothers. They shared wisdom and advice that I deeply value at this stage in my life. It was truly a whirlwind experience. Based on their advice, I have pledged to ask for what I want, to be relentless, and to not easily compromise on things that I value. Additionally, I will not shrink myself before I walk into a room. Their journeys were rarely linear, but through the failures and successes they built a legacy of hard work and relentless drive. In a few short days, I absorbed a plethora of information on taking risks, being relentless and bold. These three sentiments will remain in my mind as a journey through my career.
Gerti Wilson received a scholarship sponsored by K&L Gates to attend the 2016 PLEN Women, Law, and Legal Advocacy seminar. She graduated from the University of Delaware in 2016.