Jason Ben Nathan / Sun Senior Photographer

Amy Siskind '87 encourages women to empower themselves at a panel in Statler Auditorium Friday.

March 6, 2016

Alumnae Share Stories, Advice at ‘What I Wish I Knew at 22’ Talk

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Amy Siskind ’87, president and co-founder of The New Agenda and former Wall Street executive, encouraged 500 women attendees to find their voices, calling Cornell the “women’s empowerment Ivy” at a panel Friday.

Cornell women should strive to maintain their independence, move past setbacks and remain confident in themselves, five accomplished alumnae stressed at the “What I Wish I Knew at 22” panel.

Lisa Rangel ’92, managing director of ChameleonResumes.com, encouraged students to explore fields that interest them, rather than feeling pressured to discover a career.

“If you’re not sure what you want to do, don’t feel lost,” Rangel said. “Enjoy the journey and do whatever is in front of you the best that you can.”

Women also frequently need to overcome uncertainty about their levels of preparation for the workforce after graduation, according to Young Mi Park ’79, an entrepreneur who has lived and worked in three continents.

“That [mindset] is not true; you are ready now,” Park said to applause from the audience. “You’ve had enough preparation, so just do it.”

Rangel encouraged audience members to never “make yourself small for somebody else” in relationships.

Theresa Flores ’93, manager of public affairs for Mary Kay Inc., added that Rangel’s advice also applies to women changing their last names after marriage.

“Your last name is your identity, and if you want to keep that identity, you should do so,” Flores said. “If, however, for love or family reasons, you want to change your name, that’s your prerogative as well.”

Women at Cornell should have more confidence in themselves, Park said. She called her lack of self-assurance one of her greatest regrets.

“I always felt that I didn’t deserve things, so I didn’t enjoy my moments of success as much as I should have,” Park said.

Siskind added that audience members should “not replay in your head what happened [in the past]” and focus on moving forward.

“I think that life is a series of failures,” she said. “You will have future regrets if you don’t take chances that put you in a position to fail.”

Panelists also emphasized the importance of maintaining mental and physical health. Park stressed the contribution that positivity and solitude have had to her wellbeing.

“Try to find a way to see the positive in things, because positive leads to more positive and negative leads to more negative,” she said. “[Spend] a little part of every day by yourself.”