What I Wish I Would Have Known: Lessons from the Future WISE unites USF students and community leaders to promote the advancement of women.

The Inaugural Women who Ignite Student Engagement (WISE) Symposium, presented by USAmeriBank on March 3, 2017, is a new student-led program organized in partnership with USF Women in Leadership & Philanthropy to connect our next generation of leaders with dynamic professionals, exchange ideas and begin charting their own paths.

The WISE Symposium is an opportunity to empower college women to be the pioneers of their future success.

"When women encourage, support and guide one another, incredible things happen," said Claire Lessinger, WLP Member-Chair of the WISE Advisory Council and Director of Special Events for Tampa Bay Sports Commission.

Krithika Venugopal, a student on the WISE Advisory Council was amazed at the results of the Symposium, a year in the making.

"Participating on the WISE Advisory Council and helping to plan this event was an incredible experience and one of my proudest achievements," said Venugopal. "It required some serious time-management skills and allowed me the opportunity to play a part in something I’ve always believed in – promoting equality and empowering women."

The half-day networking event, modeled after WLP’s signature Fall Symposium, featured all-women paneled sessions with well-known business executives, community leaders, and elected officials who have found success despite the typical hurdles women encounter.

In the breakout sessions panelists shared inspiring stories of their struggles and success.

In times of crisis, the best thing you can do is take accountability, learn and endeavor to do better next time,” said Amanda Page-Zwierko, Executive Director for Frameworks of Tampa Bay.

“Building yourself is a daily practice. After the end of a long day, reflect on your choices. I ask myself, 'Did I present my best today?' Sometimes I give myself a pat on the back, other times I say to myself, ‘Tomorrow is an opportunity to do better.’”

"Always prepare for networking events," advised Bemetra Simmons, Senior Private Banker at Wells Fargo. “Ask the host to share the participant list ahead of time and identify people you want to meet and spend time with. Doing some prep work beforehand enables you to present your personal brand right out of the gate."

“Women in male dominated fields bring something to the table their peers don’t have," shared Sarah MacDonald, President of TECO Services. "A different point of view adds value and makes you a valuable employee. Don’t try to blend in – be proud, standout and you’ll get noticed!

The symposium featured keynote speaker Pam Iorio, a former two-term Mayor of Tampa (2003-2011) and current CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of America. Iorio shared words of wisdom on community service, leadership and the future.

On community service:

"If you can provide service to others, even if it's something you've never done before, you should say yes," said Iorio. "Expand your limits and break your barriers. Each individual has the power to impact others."

On leadership:

"An extraordinary leadership skill is forgiveness. Forgiveness liberates the soul. When you forgive people you work with everyone and can get a lot done. It's is a critical part of leadership."

Topping off an incredible symposium was a surprise announcement from Wise Advisory Council member Sierra Francis. “Thanks to the generosity of our sponsors and hard-work of our advisory council, the WISE Symposium raised $9,000 to fund student scholarships through WLP.”

“Life may seem like it is full of unknowns. There's a lot to be fearful of. To the students here, never fear the future. Never fear opportunity. Go forward and make a difference in your niche in the world. I have tremendous faith in the future of our country because of the amazing individual capacity of the people around us today," said Iorio.

"Go forward and do big things!"

Report Abuse

If you feel that this video content violates the Adobe Terms of Use, you may report this content by filling out this quick form.

To report a Copyright Violation, please follow Section 17 in the Terms of Use.