Nneka Jones, a senior studying political science and business management at Agnes Scott College, is one of the recipients of the Fall 2021 Forté Candid Conversations Scholarship. The scholarship was awarded to 20 women who attended the Candid Conversations Leadership Conference and wrote an essay about their experience. Nneka’s scholarship-winning essay focused on the lessons she learned from her involvement with Forté. She first joined the organization in 2019 after a college classmate, Bintou Tunkara, recommended that she apply for the Women of Color College Leadership Conference in Washington, DC. Nneka took Bintou’s advice — and that conference was her first Forté event. I remember sitting in that room, feeling an immense amount of gratitude, and recognizing that not everyone has the opportunity to learn from somebody in a space like this." At the conference, she joined a personal branding workshop with Chelsea C. Williams, founder and CEO of College Code, a talent development company for early-career professionals. Nneka recalls, “It was captivating for me to see her as a woman of color talking about branding, but more specifically helping young women prepare to go into renowned organizations and companies, and making sure that we are able to put our best foot forward.” Nneka is from the South Side of Chicago, and she says, “A lot of young people from my community don't receive this kind of hands-on training.” Thinking back on her first Forté experience, she says, “I remember sitting in that room, feeling an immense amount of gratitude, and recognizing that not everyone has the opportunity to learn from someone in a space like this.” During the pandemic, Nneka used takeaways from Chelsea Williams’ workshop to strengthen her personal brand on social media. She says, “From her lessons, I knew that my social media footprint, and what I say and do online, will always follow me wherever I go. I’m making sure that I'm representing myself honorably and representing the values and ethics that she talked about.” A “Full Circle Moment” with Forté In October 2021, Nneka participated in a second Forté event designed specifically for undergrad women of color. At the virtual Candid Conversations Leadership Conference, she heard from Chelsea C. Williams again — and found it just as meaningful. She says, “Hearing her for the second time at the end of my collegiate journey was a stamp of reassurance.” When I got the news that I received a scholarship, I was ecstatic and overjoyed. It felt as though Forté was helping to send me off to my next journey well-prepared. In the essay Nneka submitted as part of her scholarship application, she wrote about how that was a “full circle moment” for her. Her essay impressed the judging team, and Nneka was selected as one of the $1000 scholarship recipients. She says, “When I got the news that I received a scholarship, I was ecstatic and overjoyed. It felt as though Forté was helping to send me off to my next journey well-prepared.” After graduation, Nneka plans to attend law school and pursue a career in public service. She is interested in running for office someday, and says, "I know that whatever I do, it has to have a people-centered approach, and it has to have an element of bringing equity to the forefront." Just as a classmate encouraged her to get involved with Forté, Nneka now offers similar advice to other undergrad women. She says, "Forté helps you see your best self. The organization gives you the tools to envision how you want to lead and where you want to lead — and the steps to get there." Want updates about future Forté college conferences? Sign up here.