As soon as I heard about the PLEN Women, Law, and Legal Advocacy Seminar from my college Political Science Department, I knew that I needed to attend. Although I have known for some time now that I wanted to be involved in politics in some way, it wasn’t until last summer when I ran a campaign in my hometown that I truly fell in love with the idea of working in law and politics. I saw the PLEN seminar not only as a way to further develop the skills that I acquired over the summer, but as a way to solidify my career choice in my own mind. Even though I knew that I wanted to pursue law and politics, being a woman in these fields is a constant battle, and you face challenges beyond your male counterparts. The casual sexism that I encountered while on the campaign made me doubt that I would be able to achieve my career goals in the face of these challenges.
I expected the PLEN seminar to not only be informative, but empowering. These expectations were not only matched, but greatly exceeded. I felt that the combination of panels featuring strong, accomplished women, and skills learning presentations created a very holistic experience. The panelists made the idea of having a career in law and politics attainable, especially due to their honest answers. The panels really served as a great way to not only display the career accomplishments of the panelists, but to also show that they were normal individuals. The humanizing aspect of the seminar as a whole had a huge impact on me. I have never seen myself as someone who could achieve great things, but this seminar showed that with just a few key skills, and a will to achieve, almost anything can be accomplished.
I can say with certainty that this seminar had an overwhelmingly positive effect on me. Although the attendees were taught much needed professional skills, the advice and life lessons the panelists imparted on us were what I considered the most valuable. Some of the best advice that I believe we received that you need to follow your passion. Following your passion as an individual is the best way to ensure that you not only enjoy your career, but that you can look back on what you have done and feel proud of your accomplishments. Personally, I have not heard this from many people in my life. I think the emphasis by parents, advisors, and peers, is usually put on finding a career that you like, but making sure that it pays well. The emphasis, in my experience, has rarely been put on doing what you find meaningful. My plan has always been to advocate for what I feel is right, something that this particular piece of advice greatly reaffirmed.
Possibly the most meaningful aspect of this seminar for me was how empowered I felt leaving the seminar on Saturday afternoon. I have never felt more capable and confident in myself and my choices than I did during and after the PLEN seminar.
Victoria LaRocco attended the 2017 Women, Law and Legal Advocacy Seminar. She is a sophomore at SUNY Geneseo.