Recently I had the opportunity to attend the Dare to Be You leadership conference for girls, hosted by WPGA. Open to grades eleven and twelve, the conference offered a night’s stay at the gorgeous Granville Island Hotel, personalized activities, and an open chance for students to learn more about female-focused leadership. Perhaps because this was its inaugural year, I don’t believe the conference got much recognition around most schools—which is unfortunate, given what I took from it.
The first day was started off by keynote speaker Carolyn Lawrence. Interestingly enough, I found that Ms. Lawrence was one of the most inspiring parts of the weekend, albeit in an unassuming way. Many of my friends have attended programs billed as leadership camps, which, to be honest, are often just summer camps with the word “leadership” tacked onto their names; I was pleasantly surprised that this was not the case with Dare to Be You. Ms. Lawrence gave a detailed backstory on how she became CEO of Women of Influence and what took her to where she is today. Its twists and turns were nothing like I had ever heard before. It was, for me, an entirely different outlook on leadership and work ethic; I found it fascinating listening to someone with such ambition and love for her work, and found it reassuring to hear that there are parts of my life I can draw from and build myself around, no matter what career path I choose.
The remainder of the first day was spent reviewing our Insights Profiles: eight-page documents detailing our personality, work ethic, and leadership style. The overall conclusion by the conference group was that the profiles were frighteningly accurate, to the point where they perhaps knew us better than ourselves. What’s most amazing is that these personality profiles were developed through an online quiz of only 25 questions, taken by each delegate about a week before the actual conference.
The second day gave student delegates more of an opportunity to talk to the mentors that were also attending the conference as guests. Personally, I found the morning to be a great opportunity to ask questions about our mentors’ university experiences and the choices they made when deciding their career path.
Dare to Be You ended with Miss Representation, a documentary exposing the under-representation of women in positions of power and influence in American media—though the subject certainly applies to nations all over the globe, not simply the United States.
I am unaware of whether the conference will be offered next year, but if it is, I highly suggest that all eligible, interested students apply—not only is it inspiring, but the relaxed setting in which it takes place opens some heavy doors to conversations for the curious; I can confidently say that I will carry what I learned at the Dare to Be You Leadership Conference well into my future, keeping mental notes as I continue through my final year at York House and begin the next chapter in my life.