Dare To Be, the theme of the 9th Annual USF Women in Leadership and Philanthropy (WLP) symposium, set the empowering tone at the energetic event shaped around “finding a way” and having the courage to give back and support others. Keynote speaker Diana Nyad set the pace for the event by sharing her story of never giving up in pursuit of her dreams to swim from Cuba to Key West.

The fall symposium is the biggest fundraiser that WLP holds to provide scholarships for students and faculty and this year, raised almost $245,000 through gifts and sponsorships, which is $100,000 more than last year. USF’s Women In Leadership and Philanthropy was established by USF System President Judy Genshaft and Carol Morsani 10 years ago to bring women together and encourage giving back to the USF community. Membership has grown over the years and WLP will be celebrating its 10th Anniversary in January 2015.

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“The WLP Symposium was truly inspiring, I was fortunate enough to be a student host for the Dare to Be Impactful session. I am very lucky to have several great mentors in my life, but I had always considered myself too young to be a valuable mentor to someone else. After listening to the powerful and impactful women on the panel, I have been motivated to look for mentoring opportunities. It is never too early or too late to make an impact! I also attended the Dare to be Confident session. I had never considered my own personal brand, or how to manage a brand even if I had one. However, I realized the importance of branding when Bemetra Simmons said that regardless of whether you are managing it or not, your personal brand exists. These women had some phenomenal tips on branding that I was fortunate enough to be able to learn so early on.”
Indira Ranaweera WLP Esther Schneid Scholar

“Dare to Be Ambitious” hosted a variety of inspirational women of financial success. Professor J. Pulley Radwan, Yvonne Fry, Kelly Shane, and Caroline Gundeck led us all on a journey to a future of education in finance and business. It not only maintains our decision-making skills within a relationship or sudden emergency, but it also helps us empower businesses and entrepreneurs. We, in sum, become better consumers allowing our dollars to speak for how we want society to evolve. Without educating ourselves in the evasive financial vocabulary, we cannot input women’s independence and progress into the market. In this way, we help the market become “collaborators not competitors” as Mrs. Gundeck expressed. With collaborating, women not only break ground in the market, but also build up the market in the direction of progress and gender equality.”
Kathryn Sprehn USF Provost Scholar

“From the women of "Dare to be a Philanthropist" session, I learned that philanthropy is not only raising money but touching the lives of others in a more personal way. The women on the panel represent different philanthropic passions but all contribute to building healthier communities. Their success comes from their dedication to service but also their commitment to volunteers and sponsors who make service possible. I could easily see that the panelists truly care about improving the lives of others to build a stronger Tampa Bay community.”
Leslie Gibson USF Provost Scholar

“After introducing the panel for "Dare to be Committed" session, and hearing from 5 inspiring women, I learned a great deal of information regarding ways in which I can better myself, through my food choices and exercise regimen. One of the biggest things that stuck with me was said by personal trainer, Michelle Richards, and it was "Quality over quantity." As someone who is prone to accidents and injuries, this really hit home. After listening to her go into further detail, I realized that I should be more focused on how well I do something, and how I feel while doing it, instead of focusing on how many I can do or how far I can go. Another thing that really inspired me to live a healthier lifestyle was how each panelist spoke of ways in which real food can help you live a better life. It was very shocking to hear that about 1/3 of the US population is now considered obese, and it is due to eating processed foods. I plan on incorporating more "real" food into my diet, and encouraging my friends and family to do so as well.”
Caitlin Monaghan Elsie A. Moore Memorial Scholar

“Diana Nyad captivated the room with her charisma and testimony of her personal and professional victory of achieving a thirty year dream. For the students, like myself, the inspirational energy of Nyad’s talk was carried into a small group discussion with the last female USF Student Body President to date, Jessica Muroff. In the spirit of Nyad’s message, Jessica stressed the importance of personal fulfillment in our careers and articulating specific goals and values. Thanks to the generosity of Susan Berkman, the afternoon had one more opportunity in store. Our student group had the pleasure of participating in an informal discussion with Diana Nyad with the opportunity to share our future aspirations and ask questions. Her genuine interest in our goals and encouragement to dare to make a difference left each of us feeling empowered to become change agents in our fields.”
Jennifer Stenback WLP/Betty Castor Scholarship for Global Initiatives recipient