To me, PLEN was hands down an amazing opportunity to not only meet extraordinary women, but to learn how to be one myself. It was such a great way to hear so many stories from different women with different carriers, all of whom took very unique paths to get to where they are today. PLEN opens up doors, eyes, and ears for so many women, and expands the dreams of those willing to work.
I was lucky enough to hear about PLEN thanks to my sister, Marissa, who is a student at St. Lawrence University. There is a PLEN chapter on the campus, so the university is a strong advocate for the program. My sister immediately contacted me after hearing about this incredible opportunity, and we agreed that we would do it together to help avoid the fear of being in the city alone.
Regarding my expectations coming into the seminar, I would say they were met for the most part. Things were a bit more last minute and unorganized than I anticipated, but not to an extent that had a negative effect. However, it exceeded my expectations in the sense that we met so many more women than I ever imagined when I first heard about the program. The housing was great, the women we spoke to were amazing, and the places we went to in the city were so exciting to visit. I would definitely recommend exploring other places close by the destinations you are assigned to go to. It’s important to see as much as you can while you’re in such an amazing city!
Not only were the women who I heard speak so diverse and inspiring, but so were the girls I shared this experience with. The women come from all over the country with different backgrounds, passions, and ways of thinking. It was so wonderful to be around so many great people!
Overall, I would most definitely say that my PLEN experience reaffirmed what I want to do for a living, which as of now is occupational therapy. I learned that a career in public policy is not for me, but being involved in public policy as more of a volunteer effort is for me. I am excited to see the improvement in public policy and to see more women in the STEM field one day soon! PLEN was an experience I am so thankful for, and one I will never forget!
Kristen Saunders attended the 2018 Women in STEM Policy seminar. She attends Bryant University and I plans to graduate in 2020.