Real Talk Girls Conference Celebrates Women’s History Month

The Marist School Office of Inclusion & Diversity hosted the Real Talk Girls Conference on Monday, March 13. The afternoon event held on Schola Brevis, the first day of Term 3, marked the midway point of Women’s History Month. Open to all students, the event featured three guest speakers and table discussions led by Marist student leaders.
This dedicated time spent celebrating not only women’s contributions around the world, but also the impact of strong women in our own Marist community, provided an inspirational space for students to bond with and uplift one another.

The Real Talk Girls Conference began with table discussions led by student leaders to foster conversation among the attendees, especially among peers who have not had a chance to meet one another. “I loved talking to the people at my table because I met a few people I have never talked to before,” said Becca Jose ’25. “It was nice hanging out with some new friends!”

The first speaker of the conference was Mrs. Erin Paul, a 1992 graduate of Marist School. Mrs. Paul shared that her educational and professional paths were inspired and encouraged by hardworking women in her family going back several generations. Mrs. Paul’s career at Marist School began in the Campus Ministry department in 2007. She reinvigorated the department’s retreat offerings into the popular program it is today. Mrs. Paul currently teaches in the theology department, instructing courses such as Church History and Faith and Human Dignity.

“It was nice to hear from Marist women alumni,” said Jose. “I feel I could relate to them since we attended the same school and have some of the same experiences.”

Mrs. Paul urged the students in attendance, many of whom have taken her classes over the years, to find their source. This is the source from which they can draw strength throughout life whenever they need it. A woman with a constant source of strength will be able to weather the “crooked path” of life.

“I found my source as my friends and family,” reflected Gabby Ovadje ’24. She recognized them as the collective force in her life “who motivate me to be my best self!”

Ms. Renee Ducre ’89 spoke to students about her experience at Marist School, particularly as a woman of color, and how she intends to reconnect with her alma mater through initiatives and events like the Girls Conference. A seasoned corporate veteran currently working as Warner Bros. Discovery / Turner Sports Vice President of Marketplace Inclusion and Insights, Ducre urged students to bond with their peers and not let the pressure to succeed keep them from having balance in their lives.

Ovadje appreciated Ducre’s “advice of living in the moment, being present in your experiences, and not always focusing on the next step.”

The keynote speaker was introduced by Paris Dinh ’24, Lyric Hoff ’24, and Mariana Thomas ’24 as members of  Share the Journey, a Marist student group which aims to promote solidarity with refugees and immigrants. Atia Abawi is a journalist and author who draws on her experience as a refugee and foreign correspondent for CNN and NBC News to educate young adults about the human impact of war through her novels and speaking engagements.

Abawi spoke to students at both the Schola Brevis school-wide assembly and the Girls Conference. She shared important ideas about humanizing war-torn communities and finding belonging as a diverse person. These themes are important lessons in building empathy in Marist students and preparing them to be global-ready servant-leaders. Abawi also told stories of female strength, highlighting the determination of her mother who was integral in seeing Abawi’s family safely out of Afghanistan to the United States.

“I enjoyed Atia’s perspective on the strengths and advantages of being a woman, even in an area of conflict like Afghanistan,” said Marist staff member Ms. Prisca Lynch ’13, who attended the conference in support of Marist students. “Atia shared her experience being a female reporter and how people sometimes trust a woman over a man with safeguarding and accurately telling their stories. Being able to recognize and use those opportunities to your advantage are beneficial skills for every woman.”

Marist is thankful to have inspirational alumni and community members who graciously share their lessons learned for the benefit of our students.

View photos from the Real Talk Girls Conference.

Marist School

3790 Ashford Dunwoody Road, NE
Atlanta, GA 30319-1899
(770) 457-7201
An Independent Catholic School of the Marist Fathers and Brothers