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Can a Story Make a Woman Leader?

This has definitely been a year of milestones for me.

In the past year, I’ve…

…turned thirty years old, graduated college, gotten married and divorced, tried eel sushi for the first time, written a full-length musical, become a published playwright, toured my one-woman show to nine new states, given two TEDx Talks, and even though I’ve  been relentlessly searching for medical answers, I’m driven to keep my hunger for life alive, even as a “surgical work in progress.”

My relationship with my body has not been an easy journey. After 27 surgeries, the road has been rocky, and it’s not over yet.

There are certain things I don’t have control over, like finding a surgeon that can somehow fix every medical concern in the book.

But there are certain things I CAN control…

…and no, I’m not talking about the trite affirmation, “I can’t control circumstances but I can control my reaction to it.” Because it’s okay to get upset, angry, and to experience other reactions to frustrating circumstances. We’re only human, and we can’t be “Gutless and Grateful” all the time.

BUT, we CAN control what we choose to do with that reaction.

What do I mean by that?

When I feel angry, hurt, fearful, frustrated, or any emotion that’s hard to sit with, I try to turn it into a force for good.  I take that energy and turn it into something creative.

So, for instance, when I feel alone or powerless to change my medical circumstances, I’ll write a song:

I can create art…

I’ll share my story…

And I’ll remember that I’m not alone.

All of these resources empower me as a woman leader. These are resources I’m thrilled to be sharing with other student leaders , so they can help their own campuses and communities.

I never thought I would get to college, after a decade of medical trauma. The April of my senior year, I had just gotten my college acceptance letters, and in April 25th, 2005, I fell into a coma.

I’ll spare you the details, but watch my TEDx Talk for the story!

 I finally got to college, and I realize that I could be a woman leader, an inspiration to others.   I realized that it was never too late to do anything. That’s why I am so excited to be leading a storytelling workshop for other college women leaders just like myself  on June 2nd!  My proposal was selected as one of approximately 40 workshops that will be presented at this year’s National Conference for College Women Student Leaders (NCCWSL) to be held at the University of Maryland, College Park from May 31 to June 3.Because I realized in order to find meaning from own journey, that there is nothing more powerful and being able to share your story, and blaze a path for others to follow.

What Is the National Conference for College Women Student Leaders?

The AAUW National Conference for College Women Student Leaders (NCCWSL) is the premier conference for students to hone their leadership skills, make lifelong connections, and get ready to shape the world!

For more than 30 years, NCCWSL has provided a transformative experience for the next generation of leaders. Past attendees have gone on to lead nonprofits, innovate the corporate world, create disruptive technologies, and more — all while paying it forward for women and girls. Nearly 900 college and university women and campus professionals from all across the United States and from around the world in redefining leadership for all women.

 I can’t wait to meet other feisty, fearless women leaders and changemakers – I’ve been touring a college leadership program around the country for the past six years, all while still being in college myself! 

Turning adversity into a non-profit venture and social outreach program made me realize it’s was too late to do anything, whether it be going to college, or changing the world. 

If I can turn an obstacle into a way to inspire others, it fuels hope that it’s never too late for my medical circumstances to change. In the meantime, the only thing in our control is the ability to tell our story and become strong women leaders for others. 

So I hope to see you at the conference, and if you’re there, stop by my storytelling workshop!. Truly nothing more powerful than the power of a story!

“Storytelling for Leadership: Resiliency Skills to Turn Your Passion into Action”  will be sponsored by Brandeis International Business School.

Storytelling for Leadership:  Resiliency Skills to Turn Your Passion into Action

Workshops Session IV
June 2, 2–3:15 p.m.

Thurgood Marshall
Presenter: Amy Oestreicher, Founder, Gutless and Grateful at Hampshire College (@AmyOes)
Learning objective: leadership development
Level: beginner

Can your story make a difference? Storytelling, since the beginning of time, has driven change, created movements, and launched careers. By utilizing classic storytelling techniques, you’ll work to reframe your personal narrative, effortlessly creating compelling meaning that motivates those around you and connects your competencies to your confidence. Learn to stand out from the pack and move into the leadership role you deserve. Think your story’s not worth sharing? By the end of this session, you’ll be surprised!

See more at https://www.nccwsl.org/about/workshops/ and learn about my college mental health, leadership and sexual assault prevention programs at www.amyoes.com/student-mental-health.


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