A Life-Changing Experience

Each and every one of our students had a key role to play at the Summer School in Lisbon. They were not only there to learn, or to make new friends: they brought in their unique perspective as future leaders, and shared their experiences as young women willing to make a difference.
The week-long programme enabled them to create everlasting connections, grow personally and professionally, and dive into both the future of technology and the local culture. In their own words:

 
 

Dalia Alić

"In a world full of new challenges, the potential of future female leaders to contribute to the digital age and transcend inequalities finally is being recognized, empowered, and celebrated. The Summer School for Female Leadership in the Digital Age is a life-changing program designed to provide tools, knowledge, and empowerment to those who seek to create positive changes in the world. With learning sessions, panels, workshops, networking sessions, and the whole ambient organized with the highest level of professionalism, it was a joy to exchange opinions and thoughts on sustainable and ethical solutions of the future. European Leadership Academy's Scholarship in Lisbon brought us outstanding experts, experience like no other, lifelong friendships, and memories we will cherish forever. Hence, as one of 27 selected young female leaders across the European Union, I had a chance to connect with incredible mindsets, build everlasting multicultural friendships and understand how much I still have to learn and can learn from others. Moreover, each and every one of the participants has shown specific talents with diverse backgrounds and unique leadership styles while contributing to mutual empowering and impactful solutions. Lastly, as a selected 'Leader of the Future' awardee, I stood in front of the hall full of experts and young female talents united in the mission to bring diversity and inclusion to the digital age when I realized that this is just the start of something much greater - leaving no one behind while we rise together for a more equal world. And I can't wait to see how this beautiful story develops."

Alisa Uzarina

"This was a fulfilling week I could not be more grateful for. I woke up excited every single day ready to take advantage of every opportunity. The school is about female leadership, inclusive innovations and age of digitalisation, but first of all it is about people. I feel privileged to meet so many truly talented young women, who are doing great things and inspire me. Thus, the school turned out to be a great experience as it opened my eyes to different cultures, industries and environments. Now I am full of energy and motivation to reach even greater heights and to become a changemaker building a sustainable and more equal world."

Laura O'Sullivan

"This was the best 6 days of my life! I had the chance to learn so much about how important we are to the future of Europe and the world and how my tech skills are relevant in so many different areas. I really appreciate the opportunity to have met so many intelligent and empowering women from across Europe who I really felt I clicked with. It was such a life-changing experience!"

Aminata Dembele

"To say that the program was life changing is an understatement. It was a game changer in my life and the lives of the other 26 talented women. I have been able to network with so many different people with such diverse backgrounds and ethnicities. I met CEOs and pioneers in different types of fields. That have given me a glimpse at the endless opportunities that there is for women in tech regardless of what your are oriented in. Programs like these are indispensable and needed to further diversify these technological and scientific fields in terms of gender, and hopefully it will be the mother of many other programs to come. Women will dare to defy the stacked odds and statistics. I will definitely cherish the experience of being in contact with so many influential people at a time. To the many girls that want to apply, Id would like to say you miss 100% of the shots you don't take. So always try new things and it it just might bring you somewhere spontaneous and far!"

Inga Lasys

"This summer school has been a wonderful experience! The discussions, panels, and workshops, all incredibly interesting, leave you wanting to learn more and develop your own ideas and be the change you want to see. All speakers made an effort to make their topic of discussion accessible to everyone, no matter the academic background. From journalism to nanotechnologies, everything was discussed on a level enabling everyone to join in, every question and opinion was valuable. The support, not only from speakers, but also from the 26 other participants is heart-warming and has created a network I am proud to be a part of.
To everyone who thinks about applying but still is not sure if they should, do it!"

Martina Hlavatá

"Honestly, I am l truly honoured yet humbled for being given a chance to proudly represent my beloved country and to network with inspiring speakers and intelligent smart young women from all over around Europe, who not only quickly became my friends but we have also created an amazing community. The community which is full of love, constant support and mutual respect. We have created a safe place where you can be yourself and learn how to be a good and compassionate female leader this digital era needs.
In case you consider applying for this programme, my suggestion is simple - just GO for it! If you are passionate about helping others and leaving no one behind, have a willingness to learn and desire to meet other like-minded peers, then you can be the one to learn from the best and to increase the percentage of women in this digital age.
I actually wish I were given this chance again so that I could reapply and press rewind to all of those beautiful memorable moments we had in mesmerising Lisbon.
I will be forever grateful for this opportunity, for having a chance to meet so many incredible female leaders who are an excellent example of the fact that women should definitely stop competing with each other because as they say 'when women support each other, incredible things happen'. And only then we can create better tomorrows and ensure sustainable future."

Alessia Ruta

"Packing your bags and flying to new places to discover is always a life-changing experience, a time to create unforgettable memories, make special friends and grow into a better version of ourselves. The Summer School for Female Leadership in the Digital Age offers the “premium version” of all this. Inspiring panels and debates, enriching workshops, a safe space where everyone is welcomed, listened and valued, exclusive field trips and most importantly culture exchange with incredible people in wonderful venues: this is what I got in Lisbon and what I encourage everybody to apply for. I feel like every part of me was deeply reshaped by this experience. Being a Political Science, International Relations and Human Rights student, this academy was perfect not only to train my ambassadorship and leadership skills which I need for my future career, but also to start extending my knowledge to the tech field and understand the connections existing between the digital world and the social challenges we face nowadays, as well as politics and rights. Being a young woman, it also was a great context to challenge myself and mature in the process, going back home with new tools to change the world into a fairer one, which has always been an ambitious dream of mine that thanks to this summer school is already coming true. I travelled over 2000 kilometres to meet myself, the leader in me and the best European minds and souls. I would love to do it all over again."

Marta Campos Fornés

"During this summer school week I found myself surrounded by 26 brilliant young women with really similar values and ambitions as me; women who are willing to challenge the traditional leadership role and are eager to make a change in the representation of females in the technological industry. As if getting to know all of them and listening to what they had to say wasn’t enough of a privilege, this programme has allowed me to create a network of passionate women interested in leadership and tech located all over the EU.
I would describe this programme as an intense week of listening to deeply interesting panels and masterclasses, facing constant challenges and networking with influential people from a vast variety of fields, from technology to business or journalism. I am proud to say that I have learned so much not only about the digital world and the real meaning of leadership, but also about myself and how important it is to have a diverse team in every possible way. It has been, without a doubt, one of the best experiences of my life; all the effort dedicated to my application and the summer school itself has been completely worth it. If you’re considering applying to this summer school, please don’t doubt yourself, your ideas are valid and the world needs to hear your voice. You have a lot to offer to the programme and this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to learn and grow in such an enriching environment. So, put the negative thoughts aside and send an application, you never know if you will be selected to represent your country!"

Ellen Gisto

"No words can encapsulate how amazing this experience was. I was humbled and inspired by each of the 26 individual stories that I heard during the week. This week came to me at a perfect time. Having read the recent report on climate change as well as reading the news on what is currently going on in the world made me feel almost helpless, but this week has truly bought back my spark for making the world a better place. I have been inspired by the speakers and other participants that it is our responsibility to be the change we want to see. Even though we may not be able to change everything we want, changing even one persons day or life is enough. I look forward to witnessing the success of this program as well as the participants who I am now honored to call my friends. I look forward to pioneering the change we want in this world along side these strong women."

Kornelia Kovacs

"When I applied to the summer school I was expecting a normal school-like program with teachers giving lectures, students listening and then having one exam to finish. But this program has far exceeded my expectations on every aspect. During the week we dived into coding in python, learning about nanotechnology and the digital media/marketing. With having real life role models with us in the school and being able not only to ask one short question but also having a chance to chat with them during lunch has helped so they got to know us as well. The speakers of the week felt more like mentors rather than teachers.
The program was a perfect combination of learning about the digitization as well as to develop our network. Working on a project with young female talents coming from different backgrounds gave me an experience that differs from the regular academic projects that you usually do with your classmates of your own faculty. If you are interested in tech and curious how can tech be used in various industries this program is designed for you. (Also, it's a great knowing that wherever I go in the EU I will have a friend in each 27 countries. :) )"

Ana Margarida Silva da Costa

"The Summer School for Female Leadership in the Digital Age was truly an amazing experience for me. During that week I was able to learn a great deal about women in the workplace, especially in the digital field, and all the obstacles they face. However, instead of just pointing out the adversities, the same inspiring women gave plenty of advice as to how to overcome them. I was also able to meet and form great bonds with 26 other very inspiring women from all across the EU. Not only was I amazed by their accomplishments, but also by their eagerness to empower and help all other women in the Summer School. They were my favorite part of this program! That week not only made me more motivated to work hard to accomplish my goals, but also inspired enough to know I can achieve anything I put my mind to! As such, I cannot recommend it enough to all ambitious women across the EU!"

Christina Loizou

"I was really sceptical about applying to this summer school programme at first because I did not use to get out of my comfort zone often, and I was not sure if it was worth it. But I gave it a shot, and I can honestly say that this was the best experience of my life so far! The Summer School for Female Leadership in the Digital Age was an incredible opportunity for me to build connections with people around the world, explore new perspectives and learn more about women in tech. This week in Lisbon surpassed my expectations since the programme was so well-organized and everyone made us feel special for being there. One of my favorite parts of this journey, is connecting with the other 26 talented, young women that participated and hear about their stories and future goals. I am forever grateful for this opportunity and I would advise everyone to take the chance, try out new things and get involved in matters that are important to them because you cannot reach success if you are not willing to make an effort!"

Ida Andersson

"The Summer School for Female Leadership turned out to exceed my already high expectations. It wasn't just a week full of inspirational sessions, challenging projects and interesting workshops. It was so much more and gave me new insights on various topics and challenged my idea of what great leadership is. But above all, I met incredible and inspiring people from all over EU and made a lot of new friendships. So what are you waiting for? This is an opportunity of a lifetime that you don’t want to miss, submit your application now!"

Anna Veselá

"It was a great honor, but also a responsibility to stand alongside 26 amazing women from all EU countries who were selected from over 1200 applications. Each of them has already achieved so much despite their age in different fields from technology to politics! The whole week has given me a lot of new insights into topics that I hadn't thought deeply enough about before. I am struggling to find the right words to accurately describe what I am taking away. It wasn't just a series of lectures and workshops. It was also about meeting inspiring people, new places, and understanding what it means to be a true leader. It really changed my mind. In the end, I left with the feeling that I now have a friend in every corner of the EU and that this was not the end, but only the beginning. If there's one thing I should tell someone who is hesitant to apply, it would be: Do it now!"

Maria Chliapa

"Once you consider applying, that's a good start. You're half way there! You can never know what's going to happen unless you give it a shot! Even when you think that you have the slightest chance to be accepted. So the best piece of advice that I could give is always try things out. Just apply! Keep one thing in mind: If you don't get accepted it's totally fine, because you tried! But if you receive the acceptance email, get ready because there is a unique experience ahead of you! The inspiring people you will be able to meet, the endless conversations you will have, the amazing places that you will visit, the friendships that will be formed by the end of this week, it's all part of the opportunity you wish to be a part of! You're just an application away!"

Eva Hafner

"If you maybe got interested in applying to the Summer School because of all the lectures and lecturers you would get to listen to, I can tell you it is only the beginning. What matters most is the profound connection you get to make with not only 26 other amazing and inspiring young women, but also with all the speakers.
So I would strongly recommend anyone even mildy interested in any of the topics to apply, because in the "worst case" scenario the summer school will expand your horizons in ways you didn't even know were possible. 10/10 would recommend!"

Hedwig Oldenhof

"The summer school was truly one of the most incredible experiences in my life. I met many inspiring women (and men) that already made their way in tech, politics, media or other areas and until this day I still use all the advice they gave. It was also incredible to meet the other 26 likeminded participants. We all encouraged and learned a lot from each other. Even after the summer school, I know that we will always be there to support each other. All in all, I grew a lot both personally and professionally through this experience. Besides of that it was an incredibly fun week talking about subjects that really matter to me, namely tech and equality while also having nice dinners, sightseeing Lisbon and singing Mamma Mia songs in a beautiful vineyard. So, if this all sounds good to you, take action and apply. We can’t change the world by just thinking and dreaming. We need to take action."

Julianne Vella

"A life changing experience!
During the week I gained the necessary skills and expertise to grow and inspire others as a female leader in the digital age. I would highly recommend this to all females aspiring to thrive in technology. Thank you"

Lisa Oberaigner

"I loved that the summer school exposed me to leaders from backgrounds completely different from my own. It was the first time I could really interact and learn from people in politics and journalism. This gave me a lot of new perspectives and ideas, which I think helps a lot in developing leadership skills and choosing a career. The program had a great mix of speeches, workshops, and social events, and the effort Huawei made for us was incredible!"