Leading By Example

Renowned Journalist Maria Shriver Encourages Lynn Students to Be Advocates

The Lynn community recently welcomed Maria Shriver, journalist, author and former First Lady of California, to speak to students on social change, mental wellness and resilience.

Throughout her career in the media, Shriver has advocated for women’s rights, programs for individuals with disabilities and caregiving services for children and the elderly. Shriver has pursued many leadership roles such as being the founder of the nonprofit organization The Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement. She has been an Alzheimer’s activist for more than 15 years, after her father was diagnosed with the disease in 2003 and died of it in 2011.

“The Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement is meant to educate people about the gender gap and health research when it comes to women,” said Shriver. “Women have not been part of clinical trials until the last 20 years so we know very little about why women are two-thirds of those who get Alzheimer’s.”

Shriver explained how crucial it is to take care of one’s cognitive health from a young age. When discussing strategies to maintain personal health and stability, Shriver shared her philosophy that nothing in life is permanent or set in stone. In fact, Shriver attributes much of her success to her ability to adapt to change. 

“No matter how well you plan your life, it’s not going to go according to your plans,” she said. “One of the things I have learned as a journalist and as a mom is that my ability to handle change is my single greatest asset.”

In addition to adjusting to change with grace, Shriver emphasized the importance of resilience in the face of rejection. Shriver encouraged students to research, seek out and contact employers that they admire. She expressed that if an employer declines an application, the student still builds resilience that prepares them for the next opportunity he or she decides to pursue.

“I am a big believer in working your way up the old-fashioned way,” said Shriver. “I am a big believer of shooting high. Just send that resume to somebody like myself, to the Today Show or to the morning news.”

Shriver credits her resilience to her efforts to prioritize her mental and physical health, her perseverance in the face of rejection and unexpected change, her faith and her community. The journalist advised students to protect and nurture their health, happiness and community above all in order to achieve greatness. 

“Jobs come and go and things change,” said Shriver. “If you have a network or tribe of friends that are there to support you, that will help you through whatever event happens to you.”

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