Coro Women in Leadership STEM Program: Part 1
By Amber Lowry, Program Director for the Midwest Cyber Center
You know the moment in life when something’s just too good to pass up? You have a laundry list of excuses why you can’t possibly take on anything else in your already busy life, but that voice deep down inside tells you to suck it up buttercup and DO IT! Well, that’s what recently happened to me.
I have had the honor to be chosen as one of 40 women selected for FOCUS St. Louis’s Coro Women in Leadership STEM program generously sponsored by MasterCard. This STEM program is designed to help early-career women in STEM fields build their leadership competencies to gain a competitive advantage for leadership positions in their field. See what I mean about being too good of an opportunity to pass up??
WHAT WILL I LEARN?
- Emotional Intelligence (EI), including an EI assessment, which has been identified as a key factor in leadership success in all industries
- Civic leadership and leadership challenges for women in STEM fields, including an exploration of the social responsibility of STEM industries in their surrounding communities
- Coro™ methodology including training in inquiry, interpersonal skills, best leadership practices for women leaders and more
- Incorporation of proven leadership strategies into the workplace, utilizing identification of self-leadership skills and qualities
- Field assignments to assist in learning
- Guest speakers from STEM fields to assist in learning
- Group exercises that encourage sharing of information and experiences between classmates
- …and more!
My journey towards leadership
Last year, my leadership and professional development journey started off with my extreme dislike of public speaking. Maybe it stems from that awkward middle/high school phase or just frequently finding myself hiding in my comfort zone of not standing out and playing more of a “supporting role” instead of the “lead role” in life. Being a military spouse, a mother, you know, those types of behind the scenes selfless roles. However, I quickly realized that to be successful at my first nonprofit job, I need to be able to speak in front of different types of crowds to help share the mission of the Midwest Cyber Center and to motivate that crowd to action. My boss encouraged me to join a Toastmasters Club.
No, I have not become a master at making Toast. This is an organization that focuses on leadership, time management, giving and receiving feedback, impromptu speaking as well as public speaking. I decided to join the Scott Toastmasters Club on Scott Air Force Base. Little did I know at the time, but this is a club where leaders are made. No matter how bad or nervous I was getting up in front of the group, they welcomed me with open arms of encouragement. They’ve provided me with constructive feedback to push me to be better without making me want to run away crying in embarrassment.
I was given another opportunity last summer to step out of my comfort zone yet again and become the President of the Scott Toastmasters Club. Boy oh boy has that given me the opportunity to learn more about myself as a leader and work on areas that could use some improvements. These skills have helped me in my professional AND personal life. I keep finding myself saying “yes” to opportunities that get me out of my comfort zone. Opportunities that might be hard or intimidating at first but leave a big impact.
I’ve learned a lot over the last year. I have become a better leader and presenter through Toastmasters. My mentors have helped me be more compassionate and encouraged me to take time and understand different perspectives. I’ve learned that a great leader truly cares about the people around them. I’ve learned that a great leader takes the time to develop people and more importantly allow them the opportunity to fail. I’m slowly learning the power of delegation instead of trying to do everything myself.
Looking towards my fellowship, I am excited to see how I’ll be able to step out of my comfort zone during the Women in Leadership Program and come out a better leader. I’m excited to find out the results from my Emotional Intelligence (EI) assessment. That has the potential to be a real “ah-ha” moment for me. I’m excited to learn leadership strategies, attend the field trips, and most importantly meet other amazing future women leaders! Stay tuned for Part 2 of my journey as I recap what I’ve learned.