CNN anchor Soledad O'Brien, smiling with unhindered passion, gave an inspiring keynote address during the Legacy of Leadership Awards Dinner Wednesday at Spelman College's 7th annual Woman of Color Leadership Conference.
Keeping a strong hold on the conference theme "Reset: Sustaining Women for 21st Century Leadership," O'Brien placed a heavy emphasis on inspiring women to know that "change is possible."
"Believing in someone can make them blossom," O'Brien said to the gathering at the Marriott Marquis Wednesday evening. "Believe what is does not have to be."
Giving example after example Soledad told of scenerios where assumed expectations came out differently than expected.
From the woman with a son who could not attend school because she did not have a babysitter, whom O'Brien stepped up and assisted by paying for the childcare so the student could complete her education, to when well into her pregnancy, she again was given the opportunity to stand strong to keep an assignment that was almost taken from her due to being with child.
Her point was not who she helped, it was how little steps can make a big difference. The next generation of black, female students "can change the paradigm," O'Brien said. "16% of Black woman and 25% of white woman have degrees in this country. It is time for change."
Responses to O'Brien's speech, Toya Lofton said, "It doesn't take a lot of to impact someone's life and why wait when you can do it now."
Fellow student Denita Fleming added that, "(Soledad was) refreshing.... pushing me to stop sitting and to jump up, go in, get going and do more."
"(I felt) empowered, moved," said Kelly Fair. "I changed my status on Facebook to: what is does not have to be. (I realize) You can receive and give. (Soledad) touched (me)."
The event culminated with Legacy of Leadership awards going to Colonel Elva Denise Gaines-Edmond, Saregent First Class Cynthia R. Harman, Colonel Deborah Scott Thomas, and Brigadier General Velma Richardson. The Legacy Plaque was received by Colonel Deborah Grays and special medallions were given to Sargeant Major Cynthia Barren, Major Tara Lee and Colonel Gloria Lee.
The conference—from 7:45 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at Spelman College—concludes this afternoon.