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M.I.A.M.I. Women Symposium featured Pulitzer Prize winners, TV personalities

New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof and his wife Sheryl WuDunn, both winners of the Pulitzer Prize, address an audience in Armstrong Student Center at the Women in Leadership Symposium.

By Tali Hunt, For The Miami Student

Pulitzer Prize winners, TV show hosts and successful Miami alumni shared their stories and experiences for the second annual Miami Initiative for Advancing, Mentoring and Investing in (M.I.A.M.I.) Women in Leadership Symposium April 23 and 24.

The symposium opened Thursday night in the Armstrong Student Center with a sold out keynote speech by Pulitzer Prize-winning authors Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. They told stories from their most recent book, "A Path Appears."

WuDunn and Kristof explained two factors that could be changed in order to improve the unequal opportunies that exists around the world: a parenting gap and an empathy gap.

The parenting gap refers to the different types of parenting styles that are implemented in different households. WuDunn said some parents are more authoritative in hopes of teaching their children self-reliance, but studies have shown that children with affectionate parents tend to be more successful.

WuDunn described an experiment performed with rats and parenting styles that shares a direct correlation with human behaviors.

"The mother rats who were licking and cuddling their baby rats raised them to be much more secure and smart," said WuDunn.

Kristof talked about the empathy gap that divides people in the country by wealth. He spoke of the poor giving more time and money to help others compared to people who have more financial wealth. Kristof explained this phenomenon by describing how the rich tend to be more insulated from exposure than the poor.

On Friday, the symposium continued with events held in the Shriver Center. Connie Dieken, author of "Talk Less, Say More," kicked off the day with a keynote address held during a sold-out breakfast. Three sets of breakout sessions followed.

"We need to change the way we communicate," Dieken said.

Dieken led the session by speaking about three habits of great communicators: connecting with people, conveying information with clarity and convincing people to take action.

"Her humor made it more relatable and interesting to listen to," said junior Kelli Amrhein.

The second set of breakout sessions featured "The First Five Years After Graduation: Young Alumnae Panel." The five alumnae shared insight about how to make a student's time at Miami beneficial. They encouraged those in attendance to network and take advantage of student organizations and Miami plan courses.

"Know your worth," said LaDavia Drane, director of federal and regional affairs for the Office of the Mayor of Washington, D.C.

Drane's advice related to work ethic and receiving the benefits one deserves because of knowledge or past career experience.

Rachel Rudwall, host and producer for the Discovery Channel, discussed networking and involvement in activities, groups and courses that relate to students' areas of study.

"Everyone you meet has something to teach you," Rudwall said. "You never know when you'll learn something new."

Tamika Richeson, an assistant professor of history at Oberlin College, and Kate Loeffelman Black, an executive director for American Women, were also on the Young Alumnae Panel.

At lunchtime, the symposium hosted a sold-out Q&A with a Miami alumna and host of "The Kitchen" on the Food Network, Katie Lee. She talked about her time at Miami and how she nurtured her love for cooking while living in an apartment in Oxford.

Lunch was followed by a third pair of breakout sessions: "The Competitive Advantage: Business Etiquette and Self Awareness and Leadership: Being a Leader."

The symposium concluded with a book signing with Connie Dieken and Katie Lee at the Miami University Bookstore in the Shriver Center.