It is widely accepted in corporate America that knowledge is power. Knowledge is gained through many sources, including formal education. I personally believe in the impact of formal education in shaping a person’s character, providing opportunities for self-discovery, and developing a toolkit to navigate life.

For me, formal education helped me build my own toolkit that I draw from every day at work and home. Every time I go back to school, I have learned something valuable to be added to this toolkit. One major tool is confidence.

I would not have the confidence to realize my full potential without the lessons I learned while attaining my degrees. Formal education has shaped who I am today as a female executive with a disability in corporate America. It has been the cornerstone of my own professional development, which has empowered me to advance my careers, despite my hearing loss, and focus on achieving my own goals. And, I am passionate about how education can do the same for other women. I have always encouraged friends, colleagues, and employees to seek formal education and advanced degrees. The lessons learned while earning a degree help shape future leaders.

Future leaders inspire others, know themselves, solve problems, go above and beyond what’s expected, and remain nimble in the face of change. Formal education provides a multitude of opportunities to learn these skills, such as time management, overcoming difficult or challenging assignments and concepts, working with difficult team members, setting goals, and developing a plan to achieve those goals and so on.

Educational institutions have also evolved to create an environment that drives individuality, creativity, and self-exploration on which to firmly build self-confidence. In other words, I have found formal education to have changed to meet the needs of current-day students, America’s future leaders.

Change is occurring in corporate American as well. With the aging of the baby boomer generation, the characteristics of corporate America and its leaders aren’t the same. Organizations are implementing career succession plans to identify future leaders, which I believe will create tremendous opportunities for women.

I believe women with advanced degrees will ascend into leadership roles if we leverage these opportunities. Collectively, we need to embrace this future by striving to embody the characteristics of a strong leader through the power of education.