Emily Hovanessian is one of three recipients who won the inaugural AIWA-SF scholarship to attend the annual Watermark Conference for Women. The students participated in the Young Women’s Program designed especially for them. Emily plans on studying Industrial Engineering at San Jose State University and hopes to eventually get to a project management position. She loves adventure, traveling, and playing tennis. Below she shares her reflections of her experience at the full-day conference.
By: Emily Hovanessian
April 21st, 2016, I woke up at 6:30 in the morning to attend the Watermark’s annual Conference for Women, as a scholarship recipient from AIWA-SF. I woke up excited, with an open mind and with the expectation of coming back motivated and inspired from personal stories of a number of amazing women. The advice I gained from co-founder and CEO of I Am That Girl, Emily Greener was to “Go into everything in life with an expectation of what you are going to get out of it.” Whether it be to gain knowledge or experience, that is how we grow and live life to its fullest. The Watermark Conference for Women was an amazing opportunity that I am grateful to have been a part of. For me, the most valuable aspect of an event like this is the lessons; the personal life lessons, learned and then taught to all of us young aspiring women by these groundbreaking speakers. There were three topics in particular that really resonated with me: self-doubt, optimism, and failure.
Emily Greener brought to light how the greatest setback for women, is in fact their own self-doubt. “It’s all in your head,” she told us. Us, strong girls have so much potential but are, quite often, being held back by the thought that we aren’t good enough. This is, like I stated earlier, something that really resonated with me. Most women grow up subconsciously discovering what is socially acceptable and what is not. The truth is, we don’t live in a society where it feels 100% okay to be honest and vulnerable with each other or our selves and that is what Emily Greener set out to help change. It was her goal to help empower women by transforming their self-doubt into self-love. By sharing unique stories, experiences, and identifying what makes us that girl, we gain self-worth and self-love. We need to learn to own ourselves and celebrate the skin we’re in. As Emily pointed out, a girl’s well-being in every sense is most heavily rooted in her self-worth. By being honest and vulnerable with other girls, a healthy dialogue is created where we can learn to support one another. There is only one authentic you and to be a great leader you can’t doubt that person.
The next important life lesson I learned was from co-founder of Life is Good, John Jacobs. This was the importance of optimism. He addressed this in a way that really appealed to me: “Get to not have to,” he explained. You should look at life with the attitude of: I get to do this. I don’t have to take this midterm, I get to take this midterm and continue my education. I don’t have to drink eight glasses of water a day, I get to because I am lucky enough to have accessible clean water. It really is applicable to everything and anything in life and when John brought it up it really made sense to me.
Lastly, I learned at the Watermark Conference for Women that it is okay to fail. A number of speakers, surprisingly touched on this topic so I figured it must be very important. Not only is it okay, speakers and panelists explained, it is important to celebrate our failures. They are what shape us most in life and it is how we react to these failures that define who we are. All great things in life come from critical situations, where a person raises up to make a change. You live and learn from your failures and that is very essential part of life. When people try to cover up mistakes and insecurities, it holds them back; therefore there can be no growth.
Overall, the Watermark Conference for Women was an unforgettable event that taught me a lot, in particular the significance of self-love, optimism, and failure. On top of that, I was able to spend the lively day with fellow young AIWA-SF members. Together, we discussed these important topics and shared what we found most interesting. It is my hope that next year more girls can attend the Watermark Conference with our program and become inspired and motivated like I am.