April 06, 2022

Ariana Stowe '13, right, financial representative at Northwestern Mutual and owner of Ariana Stow... Ariana Stowe ’13, right, financial representative at Northwestern Mutual and owner of Ariana Stowe Fitness, speaks during the panel discussion Managing Challenges and Developing Resilience.
Credit: Gordon Wenzel
Lauren Manley ’07 Nalls advised the young women gathered for Susquehanna University’s Signe S. Gates and Dawn G. Mueller Women’s Leadership Symposium to keep three things in mind when embarking on their professional careers:

  1. It’s never too early to define your brand and create your legacy.
  2. Don’t step away until it’s time to step away.
  3. Establish and lean on a support system.

Nalls spoke before a gathering of current students and alumnae for the annual leadership symposium, supported by the Signe S. Gates ’71 and Dawn G. Mueller ’68 Women’s Leadership Fund. The daylong event featured résumé reviews and mock interviews, networking and two panel discussions: Knowing Your Worth and Finding Your Voice and Managing Challenges and Developing Resilience.

Nalls is currently a district sales manager for The Hershey Company. She asked the young women before her, many of whom were looking forward to graduation in May, to define who they are now and to follow the ideals they set for themselves moving forward.

“Knowing what you want your brand to be can build your self-confidence. Know what you want, what you stand for and what is nonnegotiable in your career,” Nalls said. “It will shape how you act and grow, the opportunities you take and how your treat others — personally and professionally.”

Though Nalls couldn’t take all the credit for her No. 2 point, its importance remains.

“So often, women start their career with high aspirations, but even before they are fully engaged in their careers, they start to step away from the table,” Nalls said. “As we move from pandemic to endemic, companies are finding more ways to support careers. Seeing these changes taking place creates promise that we can find ways to continue to step forward.”

Support systems, Nalls said, can take many forms, from personal to professional.

“A support system is key, especially for women as your life circumstances change,” she said. “When your support system knowns your brand, they know how to push you beyond what you believe may be possible and help you step forward before you step away.”

Looking at the young women in front of her, Nalls said she has great confidence that they already are off to a great start.

“Your brand is already speaking for you. You were invited to be here this evening because of your accomplishments and strengths,” she said. “You’re already leaning in — you are part of this Women’s Leadership Symposium and continuing on a beautiful journey at SU and beyond.”

Students were nominated for participation in the symposium for displaying exemplary leadership on campus or having demonstrated the potential to step into leadership roles. Participation was open to second-, third- and fourth-year students in good academic standing with a 2.5 GPA or higher.

Other participants of the Women’s Leadership Symposium were Jennifer Rojek ’98 Barton, vice president for product management at Accolade; Lisa Ryan ’78 Burke, vice chair of Susquehanna’s Board of Trustees and client partner at Heyman Associates, Inc.; Meg Pierce ’96 Frantz, member of Susquehanna’s Board of Trustees and director of alumni engagement at Thomas Edison State University; Alysha Melnyk ’14, manager of client implementations and onboarding at ECRI; Shelby Smith ’12, mitigation specialist with the homicide unit of the Defender Association of Philadelphia; Jennifer Yuricich ’00 Spotts, director of strategic communications at Susquehanna; and Ariana Stowe ’13, financial representative at Northwestern Mutual and owner of Ariana Stowe Fitness. Other alumnae present for the event were Kathy Lehman ’78 Boushie, retired director of health and wellness, Meridian Health; and Kari Huntsinger ’05 King, president and CEO, Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children.

Nalls was introduced by University First Lady Lynn Buck. Nalls’ closing remarks were followed by a question-and-answer session led by Allie Grill, director of the Career Development Center and adjunct instructor of personal development. Closing remarks were offered by Melissa Komora, vice president for advancement.

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