The second annual class of the WILMA Leadership Institute graduated on June 14, and I was fortunate enough to attend the ceremony.
There were nine graduates this year and what an amazing group of women they were! For their final project, they had to each give a two-minute speech summing up their 10-month experience in the program.
Each one provided such unique insight into her experience that every graduate’s speech was better than the last one. Each spoke with grace, elegance, poise and confidence.
It was clear they had worked with a public speaking coach, but it went beyond that training. There was obviously something that had been given to them through this experience that created a newfound sense of self-confidence and self-worth.
It’s not that they weren’t all confident, capable women to from the beginning. In fact, they were all women who seemed to be talented and, as one put it, had “arrived” before entering the program.
But, going through this process gave them a new awareness and helped them to “own” their skills and abilities, as another stated. I think that grad hit the nail on the head when she said she had always been confident and knew she was capable, but had never really owned it. The WILMA Leadership Institute process taught her to do so.
That process involved meeting with community leaders and among themselves in group sessions. The ladies talked about these meetings and gave some of the advice that particularly impacted them. Some of them also quoted notables, such as Joan of Arc and President Roosevelt. Each of them spoke with passion and grace. They came from all types of industries and backgrounds and from various stages of their careers.
This program gave them each the confidence to be able to go forward in life - some to ask for and receive raises, some to move to other positions and some to even run for office. One graduate announced her intention to run for school board next year, and said she will win. Now that’s confidence!
Listening to these ladies made me realize that you never stop learning. You never stop growing. Every day is an opportunity to listen, learn and seize the day. There are people all around us who can teach us new things, inspire us to want to better ourselves and drive us to excel, whether in our current careers or in new ones.
All in all, each of these women was an inspiration. So much so that as I was walking out, I was talking with someone and we both agreed that it was a wonderful way to spend an hour or so. The person I was talking with said hearing from all those women made her feel lazy. I couldn’t agree more! I also couldn’t be prouder to support these women and the WILMA Leadership Institute.
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Susan Willett is the director of trust services and oversees all aspects of trust administration for Old North State Trust, LLC. Old North State Trust, a North Carolina chartered trust company, provides: asset management services; income, estate and trust tax consulting; retirement planning and administration; and trustee and estate services to both individuals and businesses. Old North State Trust professionals have many years of experience and for over a decade have assisted clients in identifying and reaching their financial goals. For more information, visit www.oldnorthstatetrust.com or call 910-399-5470.