Kicking off first public seminar of 2014 in Atlanta

Guest post by our new Junior Fellow, Iris Garrett:

In The OpEd Project’s first 2014 program, held this past Saturday at Emory University, I was deeply immersed in what it takes to be a thought leader. The day-long seminar started off somewhat gray, with the unpredictable rain showers of Georgia, but quickly became a shiny beacon of hope for our group of future writers. The program’s facilitator, Chloe Angyal — both well-written and well-spoken — led the discussion on how an individual can be a thought leader, whether that be in questioning the ethics and standards of today’s journalism world to shedding the practices of questioning one’s self or expertise. As one of the younger, less-experienced participants at the seminar, it was a difficult task for me to challenge myself to think beyond some of the points I had previously left unexplored.

Chloe, however, would not accept anyone’s excuses and taught the group that they all were able to create a strong argument because they possessed knowledge in a number of areas. In doing so, she exposed many of the participants to their potential impact on the world, but also how they must go about using such potential to both affect change and respect others’ points of view. Throughout the day, she led thought games to inspire us to reflect on how we have an expertise in a particular area and that when we own our unique credibility and voice our abilities, we can allow ourselves to be confident enough to share those voices to the world.

By the end of the program, I felt a new-found strength that I could actually be a thought leader. The day had given me so much information that all I wanted to do was get home and get cracking. However, in order to compose a well-drafted argument to be used for an op-ed, I needed to brainstorm a powerful argument, know how to tread the finite line of being “right” and being effective, and truly envision how my voice could move mountains. That, in fact, is what I intend to do.

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