Tag Archives: student empowerment

Lessons from Linda Ron


I had the amazing privilege to hear Linda Ronstadt share her life story @ WCU’s speaker series. I feel so fortunate to have so many opportunities being close to WCU.

Linda reinforced this Life Lesson for me:

Keep learning, trying something new, and staying positive!

From Rock N Roll to Country to Opera on Broadway to Mexican Music to writing her book Simple Dreams, she was always exploring and trying something new. While she had so many hits singing Rock N Roll, she was always ready for a new challenge. And even now that she is not able to sing due to Parkinson’s, she focuses on the positive and how she can give back.

This is an important lesson for all of us!  

Many of my coaching clients resist change because they have always done it that way or an unexplored fear is holding them back.

What you discover when you try a new process or procedure in your business or personal life, you will get a new and improved or streamlined result.

What is the overused cliché definition of insanity: Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

It’s not easy to form new habits so try something new. Here are 10 simple ways for you to discover and develop new habits and skills:

  1. Take a class to learn a new skill or explore an area of curiosity
  2. Engage an accountability partner to question and challenge you
  3. Research areas of interest for your next career move
  4. Start a conversation with someone new in your field of interest
  5. Schedule an informational interview with a person you admire
  6. Volunteer for a non-profit or charity that interests you
  7. Write a blog post about something you are passionate about
  8. Read a book by someone you want to emulate
  9. Re-connect to a hobby or activity you enjoyed at a young age
  10. Join an intramural sports team or a gym or try a new routine

Experience is the greatest way to learn, so keep learning, trying new things, and staying positive!

This is my favorite of Linda’s many hit songs: Long, Long Time.





Early Exploration  by Olivia Hunt

The photo above is the amazing group of students that I was fortunate to advise this summer.  They came together as a team from all over the state to spend a week exploring potential careers in business @ PFEW.  Enjoy the blog below written by Olivia about the importance of Career Exploration.  ~ Brenda

If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard the phrase, “junior year is the most important year of high school,” I would be able to pay my college tuition in cash, and buy a boat. While this idea has great conviction and solid reasoning behind it, I tend to disagree. But what about SAT’s? AP classes? Extracurricular leadership roles? Don’t colleges pay the closest attention to your grades junior year? Yes, yes, yes, and yes; these are all vital aspects of creating a solid path to college. But what about a career? Maybe you aren’t choosing to attend college, or just want to better understand what’s out there so you can select an adequate major. With the SAT’s, AP classes, extracurricular’s, and the pressure of grades, finding time to devote to self-exploration is incredibly tough. That’s why I would recommend starting this search as early as possible. For me, the process began near the end of freshman year, but it really took off as a sophomore.

In the last month of my freshman year, I discovered the existence of the almighty and ever so helpful career center. I decided to see what it was all about, so wandered on in and came across a bulletin board cluttered with ads for internships and part time jobs. Fast forward a year and a half, and I have been an intern for March Forward Consulting ever since. The first step to figuring out what you want to do with your life is deciding to do anything at all. I had no aspirations to become a blogger, businesswoman, or publicist, but I did end up realizing that I’m not so bad at writing, (and I even sort of liked it). I ended up in a creative writing class my sophomore year and fell head over heels for it. With each unit, I learned something new and exciting about the ways I could write, and it finally clicked during “playwriting”. Choosing a class that allowed me to explore a potential career interest was the reason I discovered what I hope to do professionally. If you have interests in subjects you’ve yet to explore; explore them. Sign up for the class, join the club, and pop it into Google. The more that you uncover about it, the better you can understand whether or not it could become your occupation. If you don’t end up liking it, so what? You learned something new, and you can cross it off the list of possibilities.

The earlier you can start, the better. As I mentioned before, junior year is tremendously overwhelming. Between academic and social responsibilities, free time is not frequent. Quite commonly, juniors refer to free time as “sleep”. Personally, I’d have to agree. My responsibilities in school include Student School Board Representative, Student Producer for the musical, Publicitor of French Honor Society, Student Council, National Honor Society, Best Buddies, Dance for Lives, French Club, Theatre Club, Student Life Committee, Food Committee, and probably something else that I honest to god cannot remember. On top of that, I take three AP courses, a level three language, calculus, and more. I don’t even have time for a lunch period. If I went on to tell you about my part time job, internship, competition dance team, and service work, you would probably stop reading, (if you haven’t already). “How do you have a social life?” This is a question I’m asked quite frequently by faces painted by expressions of horror. Somehow, against all odds, I still do. I juggle my time between a boyfriend, best friends, and even friendly acquaintances, but it is not easy. Yes, my case may be a little extreme. However, most juniors are at least half, if not nearly, as busy as I am. Crippling stress and mental breakdowns over tests, (literally, just tests), are not uncommon. So before it gets to that, all I can tell you is to use your time wisely. If you’re breezing through freshman and sophomore year, then devote your extra time to really going out into the world and experimenting with your interests. Let them pull you in all sorts of different directions and just see where they take you. Who knows, you might end up with a part time job or internship that guides you to exactly what you’ve been looking for. Look at my path to playwriting: it wasn’t a direct shot. Actually, I hope to pursue screenwriting, which is in a completely different business that I’ve yet to delve into. Upon my entrance to high school, I thought I wanted to be an architect, so I took the residential architecture class and started watching House Hunters. I soon realized that I was gravely mistaken. Then, I wanted to become an English teacher. This was a bit more on cue, but then again I realized that working in a school wouldn’t be a great setting for me. Bingo: writer. Cue further exploration, cue taking classes, yada yada yada… two years later and three of my pieces have been published in a professional literary magazine, as well as one in a book, and a chapter on the way. Testing out your interests is truly the only way to discover your passions, so don’t waste the time you have now just waiting for them to come. After all, you may not get the chance, (or time), again.

Reminder what matters

waitinginthewings    (My company at PFEW waiting in the wings before their marketing presentation)

Another reminder that it’s all about building and deepening relationships, giving back and working together.

As you may have read in my last blog post, I spent an entire week volunteering in Williamsport PA at PFEW, a non-profit educational organization. https://www.pfew.org

I work with students and young professionals to help them develop their “Project of You Plan: The most important project you will ever work on”.   I also work with businesses to improve processes, productivity and increase profits through individual personal leadership development and strengthening interpersonal and team communication skills.   In all my work, I consistently acknowledge that no one is an island and we all need to build and deepen our relationships.

Given this fact, I wanted to share this letter with you from the student who was elected the CEO of my team’s company at PFEW. I received this note the day that I arrived back home to my office, exhausted and deluged with e-mails and getting back to business. It made my day and re-affirmed that even though I wasn’t being compensated for my time, I was doing something valuable.

Grab a tissue before you read this:


Thank you so much for volunteering as a company adviser at PFEW this past week. It was extremely gracious of you to take off a week of work for the sake of teaching young men and women about the business world and themselves. You were always there for our team, calm and uplifting, willing to help us with our struggles. This was especially helpful and comforting for me. The first day that I was elected CEO of our company, I was very stressed and was not sure if I could do it. I expressed these feelings to you and you calmed me by telling me that I already had so many great ideas, that I was capable of leading a team, and most importantly, that you would be there to help me when I struggled. I cannot express how comforting it was to hear your kind words and willingness to help me succeed. Another instance that you helped relieve my worry and disappointment was the last time that I talked to you. I was very discouraged that after all of our hard work, we won nothing. You talked to me alone and told me that I had gone out of my comfort zone and lead my team very well. Reminded me that I had worked very hard and should be proud of myself. In a time that I was very disappointed, you uplifted me. It is obvious that you truly care for each and every member on our team and for that, I cannot thank you enough. You taught us a lot about business and the workplace such as having good communication with your team, but more importantly, you taught us about life and ourselves. You explained to us that we should do something in life that we are passionate about. Told us if we did follow our passion, we would be successful. You set an example of how to care for others and make them the best person that they can be. For your generosity, kindness, and care, I cannot thank you enough. You were a huge part of what made PFEW such a great experience for me. You have truly impacted me.


Nick Duer

I feel very fortunate that my business is going so well and my clients are so understanding and flexible that I am able to close my doors for a week to give back. Many of you also donate your time and expertise to help others grow and you know how great that feels.

I truly believe that we are all here to help each other be the best we can be, right?

This student was not receiving a grade or extra credit for this letter.                                       Nick is a 3- sport student athlete, so his time is valuable. He took the time out of his busy summer schedule to thank me and deepen our relationship. It made my day since I had shared with my group the importance of making connections and deepening relationships.   Do you take the time to thank the people who help you along the way? Nick’s heartfelt letter was a great reminder to me what really matters!

The Beauty of Collaboration — marchforwardconsulting


In all careers, collaboration, as a skill and concept, is essential to success. Working with others is something we all must do in order to progress in society. Nothing would ever be accomplished if every human being thought independently and refused to accept ideas from others. High school students, such as myself, often struggle […]

via The Beauty of Collaboration — marchforwardconsulting

Students’ top 3 beyond high school concerns

How to resolve your students’ top 3 beyond high school concerns with summer student success workshops.

In my recent survey of local high school when asked:  What is the most difficult part of choosing a college for you?

  1. No clear career path yet
  2. Financial concerns
  3. Worried about choosing the right major

These are big decisions and real concerns. Committing to a plan for college or technical school or a GAP year plan is also committing to a significant investment of both time and money. Many students wonder why invest the time and money without a clear path to follow?

There are many ways to help your students alleviate these concerns. And summer break is a perfect time for them to explore and gain experience. I do believe that having time for the 3 B’s – beaches, bikinis, and barbeques – is important but there is time for both. Encourage your students to be open to all possibilities for summer research and exploration such as internships, job shadowing, or group workshops in career exploration, public speaking, time management or other success skills. Look for workshops online or in your area.

 If your student needs or wants more personalized assistance and accountability, hire a personal coach or educational consultant to assist. If cost is an issue or if they don’t want to go to a class alone, many coaches offer group sessions that are more cost effective. In many cases, learning through your interactions with others sparks collaboration and new ideas.

There are many options to take a step in the right direction to help your students plan their future. I encourage students to: budget exploration and research time, increase self -awareness, improve communication skills, and begin developing ideas around the direction you want to head as an adult. Putting the time in now will be worth its weight in gold to your students. Getting an undergraduate degree in a field they are excited about and potentially starting a career in the direction they want or being prepared for graduate school if that is their choice is priceless. If their research tells them to wait or choose an alternative to college, it saved lots of time and money. Many students dropout and struggle to payback their debt, “some college” is not a good outcome. So developing a beyond high school plan is very important. I tell students, please don’t take this lightly even though you aren’t being graded on it!

Ask:  What is the most important project you will ever work on?     The Project of You

You owe it to yourself to know yourself!  

You have to know what you want before  you can ask for it or go find it or create it.  ~Brenda Jo March