2022 Young Women’s Leadership Summit


Adya Verma is a high school senior at Juanita High School and a participant of the 2022 YWLS program. She plans to pursue a major in business and apply to Foster!


In July of 2022, Foster Undergraduate Programs welcomed 39 female high school seniors for the first in-person Young Women’s Leadership Summit in two years. The ambitious students, handpicked from a competitive application pool, looked forward to four days of lectures, networking, company tours, and an introduction to life at the Foster School of Business. As a senior at Kirkland’s Juanita High School, I was honored to be among the 39 impressive students selected to participate in the program.

YWLS provided me a unique opportunity to connect with the UW community and envision myself as a woman who plans to study and work in business. UW students, alumni, staff, and even admissions officers were eager to interact and help me and other students create a network at Foster Business School. A highlight of the program for me was the company visits to RSM US LLP and Amazon, which gave me the incredible opportunity to talk with influential women employees and their journey to success. Overall, the program offered me a chance to explore each stage of my future in the world of business, from college, to job hunting, and employment.

Day One: Introductions, Ice-Breakers, and Moving in

Day one focused on introductions: we were introduced to the program, students, staff, and logistics of living in UW dorms. We participated in icebreakers to get to know the other students. Because all of us girls shared similar goals, interests, and ambitions, a community began to build immediately. We were tasked with completing a “risk commitment” assignment, where every student commits to completing one task outside of their comfort zone during their time at YWLS, whether that is public speaking, meeting new people, or networking with professionals. The day came to a close as we met our roommates and began brainstorming for the program’s final project, a mini-TED talk.

Day Two: Art, Alaska Airlines, and Spontaneous Speeches

Day Two began with meeting the Assistant Dean for Foster Undergraduate Programs, Vikki Haag Day, and we learned about UW’s commitment to diversity and inclusion. The day morphed into one of self-reflection and personal growth, with Dr. Elba Moise, Inclusion and Community Program Manager, and her presentation. We identified our roots, our aspirations, and how we grow from them. Everyone ended the introspective lecture with a symbolic oil pastel painting of a tree, and a clear idea of our values, morals, and talents.

After a quick break, we moved onto our next presentation, one that was given by representatives from Alaska Airlines. The three women worked in recruitment and gave a detailed presentation on how to look, apply, and interview for a job. We learned what recruiting officers look for in a candidate, how to make a professional resume, and the STAR method to answering behavioral interview questions, describing the situation, tasks, actions, and result of a personal experience to create a narrative around your growth . Towards the end of the lecture, all of us participated in Alaska Airlines’ famous flight attendant interview to test out our new skills.

The last lecture of the day was presented by Laura Edwards, Foster’s Associate Director of Student Engagement, and we learned about the skills and tactics that create a great presenter. The day ended with a rush of adrenaline as we were each assigned a random topic to give an impromptu speech with only ten minutes of preparation.

In the evening, our residential advisors, Madison Easly and Katie Hickle, both current Foster students, hosted an informal Q&A session about college admissions and the Foster School of Business. They patiently answered the plethora of questions we asked, and only moved on once all questions were exhausted. Having the opportunity to connect with current students was extremely helpful, and I understood many aspects of UW that I did not otherwise, like the advantages of applying as a Freshman Direct, and the curve grade system at Foster.

Day Three: Company Visits

On the third day, we hopped onto a bus and headed to downtown Seattle to RSM US LLP, where we met with a panel of five female employees and listened as they spoke about their jobs, educational backgrounds, and their professional journeys as women in business. During lunch, we had the opportunity to network with the other women employees at RSM, learning about their experiences in the workplace, and exchanging LinkedIn profiles and business cards. I felt empowered by the women around me, and they displayed an intense passion for their work, eager to answer questions and share advice.

We then headed to South Lake Union to visit Amazon. After a tour of the Amazon Spheres and a stop at the iconic banana cart, we headed to meet a panel of four female employees as they discussed the evolution of their professional careers and how they ended up in the job they have today. They emphasized how there is no set path or recipe to be successful, and many people end up enjoying a career they never planned to have. Hearing their advice proved to be extremely helpful.

Day Four: Last Sessions and mini-TED Talks

After checking out of the dorm rooms, our last day began with a session exploring the opportunities available to us as high school seniors in the Seattle area. We then went through an extremely informative presentation on finances by a former Foster Student, Peyton Gomez, and we learned about personal finance, investing, and the wealth gap. I have always heard complaints regarding a lack of financial education for high school students, and I feel that session fulfilled that gap for YWLS students. During lunch we had the opportunity to listen to an informative presentation by Sylvie Shiosaki, a UW admissions counselor. She discussed the ins and the outs of UW as well as the application process, the Freshman Direct program, and the logistics between majors and minors.

The program came to a close with our “mini–TED Talks” a project each student worked on over the course of the four days. With the opportunity to talk about anything they would like, each girl stood in front of the crowd and practiced their storytelling, presentation, and public speaking skills. We listened to two-minute speeches about a range of topics, from the importance of supporting others, to bad fried chicken, to identifying as American African rather than African American. The humor brought our community closer, and the space we had created was one that brimmed with support.

All of us returned home wearing a purple YWLS T-shirt, beaming with newfound confidence, friends, professional skills, and hopes to attend the Foster School of Business in the future.