Panelists Share Personal Mantras at 7th Annual LBDN

 “I am capable, and I deserve to sit at the table” and “The greatest danger is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, it’s that it is too low and we reach it.” – Michelangelo  

Dr. Lynessa Rico


 “Use your Voice. What you have to say is important whether someone is listening or not.”

Mpho Komanyane


 “Never give up until you’ve released your unused capacities for service and shared your gifts with others. One enkindled spirit can set hundreds on fire.”  – William H. Danforth 

Dr. Garry Cooper, Jr.


“You are enough. Keep going. Keep going. Keep going.” and “The only risk you’ll regret is the one you don’t take” 

Leslie Vickrey


These were the mantras shared by our panelists during Chicago Tech Academy’s 7th annual Little Black Dress Night. This year we were joined by our moderator and DEI lead at ActiveCampaign Reem Jaghlit, and our panelists Dr. Garry Cooper, Jr., (CEO, Rheaply), Mpho Komanyane (Program Delivery Manager and Chair of the Diversity Equity & Inclusion Council, AHEAD), Dr. Lynessa Rico (MS Design Thinking Entrepreneurship Director, National Louis University), and Leslie Vickrey (CEO & Founder, ClearEdge Marketing).

During the panel discussion our speakers reminded us how critical it is to empower ourselves, our communities, and to dream big. The night served as a reminder that all of our voices matter and events like Little Black Dress night are imperative in empowering and encouraging diverse students to become leaders and change-makers. 

Our conversation explored topics such as impostor syndrome, representation disparities in the tech industry, and how we can create pathways for underrepresented students in STEM. All of our speakers had personal accounts of their struggles and successes in finding their voice within their respective fields. Resilience, self-confidence, and vulnerability are underlying themes in the mantras our panelists shared with us. These same themes are what we aim to cultivate in our students at ChiTech every day. This is achieved through programs like the Young Women’s Leadership Society which provides academic and professional support for female students through mentoring, events, workshops, and college visits. 

Chicago Tech Academy is very grateful for everyone who participated and attended the 7th Annual Little Black Dress Night and we are excited to empower the next generation of diverse thinkers again next year!

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