Young women dressed quite nicely packed the Columbia Restaurant in Ybor City, their glasses brimming with orange juice and the smell of bacon wafting through the air. It was the perfect atmosphere for some motivation.
Tampa Bay's sixth annual Young Women's Leadership Symposium took place Saturday morning, bringing in local businesswomen, including Tampa Bay's first female police chief, Jane Castor, to speak with high school girls about success and how to succeed in a man's world.
Among the mentors was speaker Maja Kazazic, who told a tear-jerking tale of losing her left leg at age 16 during a bombing in Bosnia. Kazazic would then go on to learn English via The Cosby Show, make it through college and, currently, run her own software company.
Kazazic was just one of the influential speakers at the event, which aims to give connections and support for the future to young women in the Tampa Bay area and other cities around the country. Other speakers included Julia Politowicz, who came to America as a Russian exchange student with $100 and now is a vice president at FSI International; Charlotte Sutton, a senior editor at the Tampa Bay Times; public health coordinator Shalewa Noel-Thomas; senior account manager Tina Sparks; and Castor.
Here are the Top 5 pieces of advice we heard at the symposium:
1 "Get comfortable being uncomfortable," said Tina Spinks. If you aren't taking chances and trying new things, you will never grow.
2 "Get an education." That's what Shalewa Noel-Thomas' grandmother always told her during her childhood. "People can take things from you. They can take your job from you. But they can never take an education away from you."
3 Don't be afraid of failure. "Nothing will happen if you choose the wrong major," said Charlotte Sutton. "You can always go back (to school), try something new."
4 Try to find common ground. Sutton also suggested that if you find yourself in a situation where people don't like or agree with you, it helps to work to find the areas you can agree on, "instead of arguing."
5 "Dream big, work hard, and take risks," said Julia Politowicz. "With that, you can do anything."