Diversity and inclusion. The power of identity. Authentic storytelling. These themes were found throughout Hubspot’s Inbound 2017 event, held annually in Boston. While I’m a communications professional by trade, this educational opportunity offered so much more than a standard, three-day conference. After listening to inspiring public figures like Former First Lady Michelle Obama and Billie Jean King speak, and networking with over 20,000 attendees from 108 countries, I came away from my experience even more inspired to create positive change.
As a community advocate, mentor and Board of Ambassadors member with Silver Lining Mentoring, I know how important it is that the young people we work realize the power their voice holds. The same is true for mentors and anyone invested in ensuring all youth have equal access to opportunity. During Mrs. Obama’s keynote, I wrote down a powerful quote from her where she talked about the importance of owning your experiences and “knowing your truth”. In essence, she said, “Everyone has a story to tell. Your pains and successes all fold into who you are. We should not be afraid to reflect on diverse stories and celebrate them.”
That resonated with me because as I heard that, I reflected on my journey through childhood and now, adulthood. The growing pains, the achievements, the failures and how all of them have led me to this point. Each moment has shaped who I am. And as a mentor, I think it’s important to be comfortable with who you are and your background, whatever that may be. You don’t have to have all the “right” answers to build a positive relationship with a young person. You just have to be yourself. In my opinion, that is ultimately what bonds us in our shared humanity.
In remembering that, I felt a renewed sense of purpose in doing my part to make a difference. Thank you, Hubspot and Silver Lining Mentoring, for the opportunity to listen, learn and grow. I encourage anyone interested to check out the free Inbound video resource library to watch a number of amazing sessions or register for the 2018 conference, which I’m sure will again offer a variety of socially relevant topics. And if you aren’t involved already, consider attending an information session and applying to become a volunteer mentor today. The more we work together to build healthy communities, the more we can build a brighter future.
Jennifer Ingham serves as Senior Communications Manager at City Year headquarters. Jennifer had a mentor growing up through Big Brothers Big Sisters, who encouraged her to dream big. She can think of nothing better than paying it forward through Silver Lining Mentoring, where in addition to serving on the Board of Ambassadors she is a Community Based Mentor. Jennifer loves listening to country music, watching hockey games and putting hot sauce on pretty much everything.
**These thoughts are my own and opinions are not a reflection of City Year, the Corporation for National and Community Service or AmeriCorps.