With no real knowledge of the background of the speakers, I was nervous and excited to see what the Women in Conversation event would entail. Three speakers, Judy Sakaki, Jaycee Dugard, and Dr. Tererai Trent were slotted to speak on not only their upbringing and struggles but what it means to be a woman.
Our very own President of Sonoma State, Judy Sakaki was the first speaker. Her inspiring words and remembrance of the North Bay fires that swept across our community were powerful, something I personally found to be relevant was when she said “you never know who you’ll be helping by sharing your stories.”
The next speaker was none other than Jaycee Dugard, an abduction survivor and now author of two best selling novels. Dugard shared her story of how she was abducted in South Lake Tahoe at the age of 11 by Phillip Garrido, an already convicted sex offender, and his wife, Nancy Garrido. After driving over 100 miles to Antioch, California they kept Dugard captive in a tent in their backyard for the next 18 years of her life. Through two childbirths, Dugard was without friends, family, or medical attention. When she was 29, someone discovered her. The emotional story of Dugard was incredibly moving and it was an experience that I will truly never forget. Her strength and passion was nothing short of inspirational. Dugard said, “Hope is a very powerful thing, even if life seems hopeless which it did for me countless times, there was a drive for me to be okay.”
The last speaker, Dr. Tererai Trent, is famous for being Oprah Winfrey’s “All-Time Favorite Guest.” Growing up in rural Zimbabwe as a female, Dr. Trent did not have very many opportunities. She would do her brothers homework in secret in order to learn because she was not allowed to go to school and was forced into marriage at a very young age. Education for her was the ultimate goal, and she would stop at nothing until she achieved it. She would later defy all odds and come to America with her five children to receive her Bachelor’s, Master’s, and then Doctorate degree. She wouldn’t quit until she, “broke the vicious cycle of poverty in her (my) family.”
“We can change the world as women,” said Dr. Trent. “Personal dreams are what connect us to the greater good.”
The speakers who attended the Women in Conversation this year were very moving and n inspirational. An almost sold out show brough people from all across California to attend. One Sonoma State alumna who heard about this event and decided to make the trip from her hometown was very glad she did.
Alexes Borges drove 3 hours with her mom to attend this event, “When I heard the Women in Conversation event was coming to Sonoma State, I knew I had to go and once I found out that Jaycee Dugard was speaking, it was a must. I can’t believe how packed it was, and not just with women but men, too.”