By Kaitlyn Tyra
After an evening of rest, we awoke refreshed and ready for a full day of learning and adventure with our fellow NEW Texas Leadership participants.
Following a quick breakfast, our first session of the day taught us about our leadership style. Each participant took the True Colors assessment which proved to be mostly accurate for much of the group. The presenter of this session, Dr. Smita Ruzicka, Assistant Dean of Students at UT Austin, explained how each leadership style was represented by a color. My true color is gold which means I am dependable, hardworking, punctual, organized, and sensible (editor’s note: sounds exactly right!). Along with the rest of the description, this leadership style described me almost perfectly.
To prepare for the keynote address and networking reception, Nancy Bocskor, a democracy coach and President of the Nancy Bocskor Company, gave us some of her tips on networking. As an ever-evolving college student, the advice was a great reminder of things I already do to while networking but also of some new ideas to help establish my personal brand.
Participants stole a short break for lunch before walking across campus for the conference’s keynote address. This year, the NLT keynote address was given by Senator Judith Zaffirini from District 21. Senator Zaffirini was the first Latina senator in Texas and has now been serving for 28 years. Throughout her legislative career, Senator Zaffirini has passed an astounding 897 bills. Spending the majority of her presentation giving us power tools to help further our careers, Senator Zaffirini discussed how crucial understanding Bloom’s Taxonomy and the effective use of ethos, pathos, and logos have been to her success in the male-dominated world of politics.
Senator Zaffirini wanted the NLT participants to take away the importance of understanding that representatives are public servants and that politics isn’t about themselves. To be a successful public servant, you have to remember why you are in office; because of your constituents. This served as a refreshing reminder which inspired us to further our aspirations for the benefit of our communities. At the end participants had the opportunity to network with various guests, including Senator Zaffirini and her staff members which many participants enjoyed because it allowed us to learn about other possible career paths.
Our last panel discussion of the day prompted participants to consider why we should run for office. The panelists included Representative Carol Alvarado from District 145 and Judge Lora Livingston from Travis County among various other respectable, elected women. Not only did they discuss the challenges they have faced as women in political office, but also ways to overcome those obstacles. The panel consisted of persistent women with a passion for serving others which I personally connected with.
The end of the evening proved to be fun and relaxing while we enjoyed pizza and documentaries. True to the theme of the conference, we watched documentaries focused on women’s involvement in politics. With a full day of learning and networking behind us, we retired to our rooms enthusiastic about what tomorrow will bring!