I first learned about PLEN when my friend shared her experience with me after attending a Global Policy seminar a few years ago. She encouraged me to attend, but I didn’t have the confidence at that moment because I assumed you had to be a Political Science major or something similar. When I learned about the upcoming Women in Public Policy seminar, I felt it in my heart to give it a try because if I don’t represent my community, who will? I’m also fortunate enough to attend Mount Saint Mary’s University, an institution that provides their students with annual PLEN seminar opportunities. Dr. Rosalyn Kempf made this opportunity possible for me, a phenomenal woman leading women to the finish line. I would still be on the sideline waiting for someone to take the lead if it wasn’t for PLEN.
My PLEN experience was incredible; everyday I learned something new that has contributed to my own personal growth, from networking tips to actual working advice. Everything I learned I have shared with my friends and family to prepare them to lead. When one of the speakers at the seminar said “You are the leader you have been waiting for,” I felt as if she was speaking directly to me. As a first generation immigrant woman, I have faced challenges that I know other women and men continue to face, and it is my job to start advocating for them just as other women have done so for me. To be surrounded by women fighting on the frontlines and being advocates for issues I care closely about was not only inspiring but motivating. The incredible, phenomenal women I met during the seminar taught me to be fearless, bold, kind, hard working and present. To be unapologetic and own the space we have worked so hard for and to encourage others to take up space.
Before PLEN, I was unsure of what will follow after my upcoming graduation, but now more than ever I am encouraged to continue my education, do my job, be authentic and kind. I want to continue learning about public policy and contribute to change in my own community. I’ve grown up in South Los Angeles, California and my community needs leaders to guide our upcoming generation on the right direction. I will be the leader to take that job among others already doing the work. Thank you PLEN for the opportunity. I wouldn’t be the fearless woman ready to lead that I am if it wasn’t for the new knowledge I’ve obtained.
Estefani Alarcon attended the 2017 Women in Public Policy seminar as a senior at Mount Saint Mary’s University.