Why I Foster a Culture of Self-Empowerment

Owning my role as a leader means embracing my responsibility to empower the next generation of changemakers. Throughout my career, my passion for helping future leaders be their best has remained unshakeable. I’ve spent decades collaborating with interns at Bayer and beyond, and the energy, inspiration, and authenticity they exhibit fuels me to continually invest in youth mentorship programs. I believe that the value of self-empowerment in one’s career development journey cannot be overstated, and walking alongside today’s students in that journey is a role I’m proud to have.

On the surface, interns are meant to absorb as much new information as possible on the job. They are usually wired to learn from those around them. However, programs like InRoads, FFA, Manners, and 4-H have introduced me to a generation of future leaders that excel in leadership, curiosity, and innovation. Perhaps most important, their dedication to learning is an invaluable characteristic that has impacted my personal leadership strategy.

Fostering a culture of learning and self-advocacy is critical for the professional development of leaders at all levels, not exclusively college students. With the right support system and encouraging mentors, interns are unafraid to leverage empowerment as a career catalyst. Serving as a mentor for them has shown me that embracing the power of personal and professional introspection crafts a formula for self-awareness that lends itself to empowerment. Internships offer students the chance to dive head-first into crafting new skills and forming new relationships, while evaluating their professional purpose and passions. Established leaders aren’t always excited to engage in self-reflection, but it’s that self-reflection that allows us to grow.

This May, I was fortunate to attend an event where undergraduate and graduate BIPOC students received scholarships, and I met a recipient who was taught by one of my former interns. Witnessing the circle of learning and empowerment unfold was profound. It reaffirmed for me the inherent value of investing in the mentorship of our future and current leaders.

As a leader and a mother of three daughters entering the working world, I’m striving to emphasize the value of self-reflection and mentorship. I’m proud to play a role in enabling students’ transformations into impactful leaders. Moving forward, we should all seek out learning moments from our interns and the next generation of leaders, as we can learn as much from them as they learn from us.