Xavier alumnae board hosts empowering Zoom event


Polly Fitz-Gerald

Marya Stark ’81 was the key speaker at the event who discussed the four most important traits to be a successful woman. Stark has worked all over the world and has founded numerous programs to help women progress in achieving their dreams.

On Thursday, March 11, from 6-7 p.m., the Xavier Alumnae Board hosted a virtual event honoring alumna Marya Stark ’81 and her incredible work in empowering women. With Stark as the main presenter, this Zoom event focused on the “Four Characteristics to be a Successful Woman.” 

Although events are usually held in person, Zoom events have become the new norm during the pandemic and have allowed for a broader base of alumnae to attend such important events. Joy Haugen ’03 was the main coordinator of the event and with Polly Fitz-Gerald ‘68 she helped select a speaker and establish the technology needed.

Stark was considered the best person to speak at the event due to her numerous accomplishments since her time at Xavier. For about 20 years, Stark has worked all over the country and the world to empower women and build platforms to aid women in their leadership. From Paris to San Francisco and now New York City, Stark has stayed true to her Xavier roots and has worked tirelessly to find numerous programs to help women achieve their dreams in a male-dominated world. 

For example, Stark co-founded Emerge America which aids women in politics. This program has become extremely successful and widespread over the years, helping numerous women in politics, including mayors of San Francisco and Oakland, as well as five members of Congress and hundreds of state and local female officials across the country. 

Additionally, she recently co-founded Trajectory Women, which is a program dedicated to helping women achieve their goals and life-long dreams. This is a peer-coaching program that is highly recognized by some of the best coaches in the United States. 

For women to be successful, Stark believes that women must first be aware of the importance of self-awareness and know how to cultivate it. That is, women must be aware of their talents and find ways to share these talents with the world, rather than keeping them hidden.  

Secondly, women must know that they have power in mentoring and nurturing the community, even during a pandemic. No matter how trivial or grave the problem, there is always an opportunity for a woman to make a difference in her community. 

Thirdly, women should learn to resolve the conflict between likeability and leadership characteristics. Though likeability is enjoyed, being a leader means doing what is right and not necessarily what is liked.

 Lastly, a successful woman sets goals that inspire her and establishes accountability for achieving them. No one wants to achieve someone else’s dreams. Everyone has a dream that is reachable, only when people hold themselves accountable to that standard. 

It is vital to see that Xavier helps to cultivate each and every one of these traits in students. Faculty and staff help to encourage students to be their best selves. There are numerous opportunities available that give Xavier girls chances to lead and assess their leadership. Every Xavier student is called to be a leader in one way or another through the numerous clubs, sports teams and activities Xavier offers. Most importantly, Xavier creates a nurturing and loving environment for girls to grow and learn to cultivate the skills they need to dominate in male-dominated spheres. As Fitzgerlald states, “Teachers and administration help and encourage students to be their best. ‘Let’s Be Friendly’ is not just a phrase here.”

Altogether, the virtual alumnae event was a pivotal event that brought alumnae together to celebrate the works of alumna Marya Starks. Xavier is a far-reaching community. 

Every Xavier student will encounter Xaviere alumnae throughout life and will carry that special bond of having walked the halls of Fitzgerald wearing the plaid skirt. “Xavier alumnae are always willing to help mentor other Xavier alumnae,” said Fitz-Gerald. As students grow and leave Xavier, Xavier will always be a home as students will have the vast alumnae network to depend on.