Saturday, March 13, 2010

Loyola University Maryland Women Emerging Leaders Conference

I couldn't have been happier to have ended my reign with a keynote address at the Loyola University Maryland Women Emerging Leaders Conference (say that five times fast!). Thank you to Sara Scalzo and the planning committee at Loyola for the kind invitation and all attendees who braved the rain storms!

Rarely this year did I get nervous speaking in front of an audience -- but there was something about this event that was different. Because it wouldn't be about nutrition necessarily, or even being Miss Maryland... it was just about me, and how my personal struggle had in fact become my biggest success.

What I offered was my story, in the hopes that it would serve as a precursor to discovering their best selves-- I brought excerpts from old journals (the exercising diaries, calorie counting, etc), and described the day I knew everything had changed and I entered an eating disorder treatment facility. 4 years later I found myself in a position to make a difference.

These speaking engagements have been extremely therapeutic for my own life and my ability to sustain a healthy weight and more importantly, a positive mind. It is often believed that eating disorders are not something you are magically cured of, no matter how much counseling you have endured, no matter how much weight you have gained. It’s almost disheartening to think that I may never been fully cured. It has and will always be a part of me. And so looking beyond my term as Miss Maryland it has become clear to me that volunteerint and public speaking have become essential parts of my brand. In their reflection, the women were urged to think of their own brand-- who they are and what they believe and value.

Thank you for your candid questions and feedback-- it was my pleasure!

At the end of it all, "keep striving. Keep learning. Don't ever be done climbing. "

~Nicole Ortiz, MBA '09

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