Story and photography by Olivia Ary, ’18

On Friday March 26, girls and women from across the Continental League Conference gathered for the 2018 Shine Summit. The mission of the conference is simple- empower girls to empower one another. During the day, attendees heard from two keynote speakers, paralympian and 2007 Regis Jesuit graduate Lacy Henderson, and actress Ali Stroker. They also attended three breakout sessions of their choice, with topics ranging being a woman in the workforce to loving yourself to self defense.

Interim Superintendent of the Douglas County School District, Erin Kane, introduces Lacy Henderson, Regis Jesuit graduate and Paralympian. Kane states that “it is the moments when we face adversity that test our character the most and gives us the opportunity to shine.” These opening remarks shaped the tone for the rest of the day at the 2018 Shine Conference.

“It is the moments when we face adversity that test our character the most and gives us the opportunity to shine.” Erin Kane, Interim Superintendent of Douglas County School District

The leadership team, comprised of students from Regis Jesuit High School and Legend High School, selected the theme for this years conference. It revolved around a story by Jen Hatmaker, all about the bond between female elephants in their tribe. The story talks about the loyalty of the tribe, especially when those in our lives are vulnerable.

Both Lacy Henderson’07 and Ali Stroker talked about the vitality of a strong support system. When reflecting on her experience at her first national trials, Henderson states that she “wouldn’t have made the finals if [she] didn’t have [her] coaches, [her] family, [her] team. It’s not just one person that carries you, it’s the whole tribe.”

Henderson also talked about being a woman in the world today. She says that there are two main lies that we buy into. The first is this agreeable, say yes, learn that it’s good to be quiet, don’t challenge people attitude that seems to be taught to girls from a young age. “That’s giving away your power. Giving away your voice,” Henderson states. The second lie is the idea of strong women. We believe that to be a strong woman we have to do it on our own. “I’ve always seen Beyoncé as a strong, powerful woman. We forget that Beyoncé has a whole team of people behind her making her Beyoncé. There are so many other powerful leadership roles, and most of them are from the back,” Henderson says.

Opening keynote speaker, Lacy Henderson ’07, speaks to attendees about her life, her story, and her tribe. She asks “what is power? What is empowerment? I remember thinking, and I got this image of me as Godzilla with lightening bolts coming out of my hands or something. But that’s not power. Feeling powerful is in those moments where there’s a little voice inside of you that goes ‘yes. Yas. Yassssss queen.’ We’re a tribe. We’re way more powerful together. ” Henderson competed at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games for track and field, and is currently the American record holder in the 200 meter and the long jump.

“We’re a tribe. We’re way more powerful together.” – Lacy Henderson ’07

 

Broadway performer and Glee actress Ali Stroker starts her keynote speech with a song. Regarding the ‘tribe,’ Stroker says, “I have to tell you that I haven’t always had a good experience with women. There are people who have been negative and told me no. I live my life every day knowing that I can be better when I raise up the women around me. This is an amazing group of people. The amount of power we have is amazing.”

Another key theme of the conference was learning to embrace oneself fully. Keynote Ali Stroker grew up in a wheelchair, and always knew she was different from the other kids she was surrounded by. Like most of society, Stroker remembers being in middle school, and wanting nothing more than to be like everybody else. She wanted her legs to look like everyone else’s legs. She would look in the mirror and pick herself apart because she simply didn’t look like other people. “It took years, even in my 20’s. I wouldn’t wear shorts. Then one day, my mom and I were shopping. And my mom said ‘Ali, you have beautiful legs. Have you ever seen anyone in the world that looks like yours? Who’s legs look like yours?’ I said no mom, exactly. She said ‘no, precisely. Being unique, being you, being original is the greatest thing in the world. Being like everyone else is boring.'” Stroker also touched on what it’s like to live a life that is within our control. “I decided that I would turn my limitation into an opportunity. Everyone in the room has a limitation. You don’t have to be the strongest or most beautiful or tallest to do it. You just have to have a positive reaction to that limitation.” She has a formula for the outcomes of our lives. E+R=O. The events of our lives plus our reaction equals the outcome. Stroker shares that “the outcomes of our lives is entirely in our hands.”

“Being unique, being you, being original is the greatest thing in the world. Being like everyone else is boring.” -Ali Stroker

Keynote speaker Ali Stroker states that “we can all get into habits. And supporting each other has to become a habit.
Doing that here is easy. But what about in the real world. You all know what it’s like to not be included and to be put down. That that feeling makes us want to do the same to someone else. We need to make a promise to do our best. We can do this. And today we start. It’s our time. Women have never been more powerful. Ever. We are leading, we are queens.”

“We can do this. And today we start. It’s our time. Women have never been more powerful. Ever. We are leading, we are queens.” -Ali Stroker

Junior Erin Bailey says that “the Shine Summit was a remarkable opportunity to hear so many confident, intelligent, and above all, empowered women share their stories and pass down their words of wisdom. It was a truly inspiring and empowering experience.”

 

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