The first in her family to attend college, Amy Maldonado – a sociology major in the University of Chicago’s Class of 2022 – found the Women of Color Conference transformative, fueling her confidence to express her authenticity. Why is Forté’s mission important, and how does it impact you personally? Forté is improving access to education and resources for women to succeed. I come from an under-resourced background, my parents are immigrants from Honduras, and I’m the first in my family to attend college. Many of my school colleagues are white and their parents went to college, and they know how to interact in class. Forté’s programs allow me to level myself with my peers and boost my confidence. I don’t have a lot of women professors, and listening to women who are experienced in their fields during Forté’s webinars, for example gives me a goal to live up to. Why did you decide to attend the Women of Color Conference? When I heard about it, a conference for women who want to be leaders, it was exactly what I was looking for. At larger conferences, I have felt swallowed up with topics that aren’t as relevant to me, and I don’t feel that minorities always have the chance to shine. At the Women of Color Conference, rather than being talked “at,” we were allowed to have a voice. Forté also provided the financial support that made it possible for me to attend. What sort of activities did the conference include? We did interview workshops with professional women and other undergrads and got feedback to make sure our key points were clear. It was super helpful to gain interview skills – such as not telling recruiters what they want to hear, but instead expressing your authentic self and focusing on what sets you apart. Minorities don’t always have the chance to shine. At the Women of Color Conference, rather than being talked “at,” we were allowed to have a voice. What did you gain from attending the conference that was valuable? The Women of Color Conference was transformative – it emphasized authenticity in the workplace and in school, regardless of background. We were encouraged to embrace the qualities that make us unique and not doubt them. It helped me see that the things about me that are unique are actually assets, not liabilities. It changed not only my perspective but also my self-perception. Has participating in Forté’s programming made you think more about business school? Before the conference, I didn’t think I wanted to go to business school. It seemed very male-oriented to me, but I learned a lot about what I could do with an MBA. I don’t know right now if I will apply to business school, but it planted a seed where before there was no seed. If you were chatting with a friend who was unfamiliar with Forté, or the Women of Color Conference specifically, what would you say to her to convince her to become involved/attend? It’s not a typical conference – it is a conference made for you. In addition to connecting with other women of color from across the country – other students and professionals at different companies – it helped me build confidence and embrace my authenticity.