Colloquium of the Women in Public Service Project

The author with fellow Girl Scouts and CEO Lidia Soto-Harmon at the State Department

By: Marisa C., Girl Scout

I was honored to attend the Colloquium of the Women in Public Service Project at the State Department in Washington, DC as a guest of Girl Scouts. The hour and a half metro ride and long wait out in the cold were all well worth it. There were too many great inspirational speakers to mention them all, but some notable faces were Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, head of the I.M.F. Christine Lagarde, Minister of Agriculture of Liberia Florence Chenoweth, former Prime Minister of New Zealand Helen Clark, President of Kosovo Afitete Jahjaga, Gloria Steinem, aand Madeleine Albright.

I was thoroughly touched by such stories as this; that little boys in Kosovo didn’t think that they could be president because it was a job for women. Hearing all the great stories of achievement inspired me to stand up for myself and not be afraid. One story told by Ms. Chenoweth comes to mind as particularly inspirational. When declined entry to an agriculture university because of her gender, she sued the government, and won! Besides the interesting anecdotes, one common theme caught my eye; the theme that women need to step up and be confident. We need to ask for those promotions, for those pay raises, and take credit for all the great that we do. We need to look in the mirror and see that we can be a Senator, without someone else telling us that we can. We need to look inside ourselves and bring our greatness and our dreams out and express them without hesitation.

Attending this summit was especially helpful for me, as I am currently running for Student Member of the Board of Education in Montgomery County. The many inspirational words and advice offered from the many current and former public servants in attendance gave me a great feeling of power and ability to succeed, as well as provided simple tips on improving self-confidence. Overall, in several hours on Thursday morning, I was able to increase my self-confidence, my inspiration, and my involvement in women’s rights exponentially. I was presented with new ideas and met new and motivating people.