The Reach - Phi Theta Kappa's Blog

The Reach

All the latest information, news and stories to inspire and inform Phi Theta Kappa members

Lessons from the NEW Leadership Program

Lessons from the NEW Leadership Program

Editor’s Note: This blog post was written and submitted by Sara Hwang, 2016-17 International Vice President for Division 1.

I recently had the great honor of attending this year’s NEW Leadership New Jersey Summer Institute, hosted by the Center for American Women and Politics at the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University. I applied to be a participant of the program because it was a chance to learn from women leaders in the community. Not only would I be joining a network of influential leaders, but I also believe everyone has the responsibility to be aware of what rights they have as citizens and the power they hold to affect and change policies. Although the NEW Leadership program concentrates on the role of women in politics, it really focuses on empowering the next generation of female leaders. 

I joined approximately 40 young women from throughout New Jersey for six days of events that gave us opportunities to grow personally and professionally, both as individuals and as teams. What really surprised me was the diversity of the participants. From our nationalities to our academic backgrounds, we were nothing alike.

Looking and talking to each member, I would never have imagined some of the obstacles these women have overcome, whether it was financial trouble, family problems, sexual harassment or gender discrimination. The more I got to know each of them, the more I admired their courage and determination. Instead of picking out our differences, we became unified and celebrated our uniqueness.

We attended workshops and seminars on topics such as effective presentation and communication; how to get involved in government; do’s and don'ts for professional conduct; how to network; and diversity and political decision-making. The program also included a day trip to Trenton, where we were able to tour the State House and listen to the story of Kim Guadagno, Lieutenant Governor of New Jersey.

I especially enjoyed the keynote address by Leecia Eve, who shared her story of working for Hillary Clinton and running for a government position. She talked about the hard decisions she had to make while campaigning and the knowledge she gained from her experience in government. Although she did not get elected, she didn’t let that stop her, as she now works as the Vice President for State Government Affairs for Verizon.

I saw many teary eyes in that room that night, and her story resonated with so many of us because all of us have had to face obstacles. It all comes down to what one does with the knowledge gained from the experience. She didn’t think of her campaign as a loss, but an experience that made her stronger. 

The program culminated in a political action project focusing on Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of Criminal Justice Reform. We were divided up into a senate judiciary committee, a pro or con bill press conference, or an anti or pro bill testifying organization. On the last day, we had a mock press conference, in which groups had to defend their points of view. 

NEW Leadership introduced me to a network of women leaders who support each other and anyone willing to join. These sessions helped break down the myths that surround politics and showed how anyone can get involved depending on the degree of participation they are willing to give. Although I want to go into pharmacy, a field that’s not usually related to a career in government, I was able to consider my options to build my role as an active global citizen. 

Comments are closed.