The Destination is an Illusion: Embrace the Journey
As Miley Cyrus sings in The Climb, "Ain't about how fast I get there. Ain't about what’s waiting on the other side. It’s the climb." Enjoy the climb. - Sola Bright
The crowd bursts into applause as guest speaker Sola Bright concludes her inspirational speech. This year’s annual Spring Luncheon is the first in person event Cap and Gown has hosted since the start of the pandemic, serving as a celebration of our community and a renewal of hope. The Spring Luncheon allows students to form lasting connections with alumni and highlights a female leader as a guest speaker to reflect on her life experiences and impart advice for the attendees on how to lead a fulfilling and charitable life. This year, the event was hosted at the Stanford Golf Course Coupa Cafe from 1-3 PM on May 1. There were 45 attendees - 23 students, 16 alumni, and 6 guests, including speaker Sola’s husband and two daughters! After the delicious Coupa Cafe-catered meal, Sola Bright delivered her remarks to the group.
Sola’s talk was focused on the subject of cultivating joy. She shared six lessons with the group aimed at bettering all aspects of the attendees’ lives, ranging from academic and professional, to social, financial, and romantic. To start, Sola asked us all in her first lesson to prioritize the cultivation of a growth mindset. Growing up, Sola described herself as an “average student,” noting that of her 75 classmates she ranked 42nd in terms of academic performance. However, with her mother’s aid, she quickly rose in ranks from dedicating her mornings to memorizing math formulas and practicing her arithmetic skills. By graduation, she was an exemplary student. She attributes this success to her mindset at the time: anyone, no matter what, can become anyone if they are willing to put in the work.
On this road to success, Sola asks others to adhere to her second lesson: after you walk through a door, leave it open for others. As the sole McKinsey hire in Nigeria from an application pool of 1,000, Sola knows the value of having others to share in triumphs at the top. View your peers as collaborators rather than competitors so you may share in success with one another.
Additionally, Sola emphasized the practice of cultivating joy in our daily lives as her third lesson. This message hit home with the students in the audience. Burnout and struggles are a common theme in one’s undergraduate academic career, but Sola encouraged students to invest time in the practices - the daily habits and routines - which bring them and others joy. Sola also asks students to allow themselves to be human, noting in her fourth lessons that owning mistakes takes away their power.
Sola then turns to financial and romantic advice. She states in her fifth lesson that the best financial practice in life is to “save and invest in life like you will need it,” targeting her words at the young crowd members who are only beginning their financial journeys. She concludes by discussing her story of love in her sixth tip, reminding students to open to the person who comes into their life and doesn't make them feel weighed down but rather enables them to fly.
She asks the attendee’s to be aware of red flags - if you have to contort or shrink yourself to meet your partner's needs, then ask yourself, is this for you? With her husband and two children in the audience, Sola thanked her family for all they have done to support her, marking a truly special moment in the Spring Luncheon.
Cap and Gown is currently accepting applications for The Cap and Gown Leader Award until May 11! This award recognizes outstanding student leaders at Stanford who support women's leadership and have demonstrated academic excellence, leadership, and service to their communities. Recipients of the Leader Award gain lifetime membership to the Cap and Gown community at graduation, and beyond, joining our alumni network of 2000+ honored leaders all around the world, including Sandra Day O'Connor and Edith Mirrielees. Cap and Gown will also be hosting an award ceremony for the recipients of the Leader Award in the coming month.