“I don’t think you’re going to make it as a nurse. You know, might be able to be a teacher, but in all reality, probably what you should be is a secretary like your mom.”
Dr. Lita Burns, NIC’s Vice President for Instruction remembers when her high school counselor told her those words when she told him she wanted to be a nurse.
“Well don’t listen to him,” her mother said when Burns told her what the counselor said. “He doesn’t know what you’re going to do. You’re going to be a nurse. Go be a nurse.”
So she did.
Burns went on to speak about the things that kept her strong during the harder parts of her life– her unSpoken Strengths, the topic of focus for the fourth annual Day of Dialogue.
The audience consisted of both men and women, but the speakers were all strong women who have made an impact in the lives of others. In addition to Burns, the event also featured a panel of four women who also spoke about their “unSpoken Strengths.”
Burns said her strengths included her roots, relationships, core beliefs, respect and faith.
She said it was her roots in having strong matriarchs to look up to and encourage her that led to her moving ahead with her plans to become a nurse.
Along with her roots, relationships played a large part in Burns’s success. When she first decided to get her doctorate’s at Gonzaga, her professor went throughout the class, took the student’s hands in hers, looked them in the eye, invited them, welcomed them and told them what an important role they would play in the class.
“Thank God I had that experience my first night of class,” she said. “I have a funny feeling, had I not had that, there would not have been a second class.”
As Burns began to develop her leadership skills and problem solving as an administrator at NIC, she said it was her core beliefs such as ethics and integrity that she would fall back on when encountering difficult situations.
“When I get into those places, I need to always be able to look back on, to look internally, into what is most important as I’m addressing situations,” she said. “And what is most important to me is that I address everything from a very ethical stand point and that I maintain not only my personal integrity, but that I maintain the integrity of the institution and those people that I represent.”
And in these difficult situations, Burns said that respect, another of her unspoken strengths instilled in her by her father, is crucial to communication, especially when she holds an opposing opinion.
“I think about what language I’m going to use to convey respect for whoever it is I”m talking to,” she said.
But it was her faith, that Burns said was her greatest unspoken, yet perhaps most obvious strength. She gathers strength from her faith in God to be able to handle situations with her children, crucial conversations or tough meetings.
“I know that I need extra help and if I don’t get it from a stronger source, I know that I’m probably not going to be able to get through that situation; so I call upon that stronger strength.” Burns said. “And I would urge you to figure out what that stronger strength for you. It might be your body, it might be your best friend, it might be your spouse, it might be your significant other. But make sure that you call upon it.”
A panel of four speakers supplemented Burns’ speech with their own unspoken strengths, but from varying backgrounds and perspectives.
The panelists were Christine Johnson, chancellor of Community Colleges of Spokane, where she leads a district that spans six counties in Washington; Jessica Bauman, the owner of Express Employment Professionals where she has earned numerous awards for her work matching people’s careers with their passions; Katie McIntire, a welding instructor at the Kootenai Technical Education Campus; and Lindy Lewis, an authenticity speaker, author and health coach.
Johnson said her strengths were her faith, which leads to an unabiding love for humanity, trust in the goodness of others, humility, hope and love.
Bauman said that at first she didn’t think she had any unspoken strengths until she started thinking about it and remembered a magnet from a friend that said, “To be successful, you have to have some ignorance and a lot of confidence.” So for her, strong relationships, ignorance, confidence, vulnerability and tenacity built her list of strengths.
For McIntire, she resounded with growing strength and confidence through endurance and the ability to overcome challenges and view how you want to impact others.
Lewis worried that the others would take her answer, but they didn’t. Lewis’s unspoken strength was intuition. She said to trust your intuition at all costs, which was something she had to learn to do over a long period of time.
Along with the opportunity to be inspired by the influential speakers at the event, the communications club presented awards for outstanding women who have left a positive influence at the school and in the community.
Four women received honors during the Day of Dialogue for 2017 Woman of the Year. The award was separated into five categories, NIC student, NIC alumna, NIC employee, and community member.
Kennedy Gelnette recieved the award for 2017 NIC Student Woman of the Year.
Chloe Van Zandt received 2017 NIC Alumna Woman of the year.
Molly Kreyssler received 2017 NIC Employee Woman of the Year.
And Raydeane Owens, co-pastor of the Heart of the City Church and public speaker received the 2017Community Woman of the Year award.
Each woman got the chance to give a short reception speech in which they expressed their gratitude and inspired the audience.