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Women in Business Breakfast Celebrates Resilience in the Face of Adversity

Women in Business Breakfast Celebrates Resilience in the Face of Adversity

Bethel students and alumni share fellowship with one another at this semester's Women in Business Breakfast.

Associate Professor of Business Bethany Opsata says recent losses within the Bethel community have illuminated a need to build resilience through adversity. At this semester’s Women in Business Breakfast, undergraduate students and alumni shared conversation based on the life story of a powerful female executive, author, and leader.

Chief Operating Officer of Facebook Sheryl Sandberg is known for her 2013 book Lean In and the successive movement built around its message of empowerment for women in the workplace.

However, in 2015, tragedy struck. Sandberg’s husband of 11 years died unexpectedly while they were vacationing in Mexico. Now a widowed mother of two children, Sandberg has figured out how to move forward through her grief. Her healing process inspired her to write her second book—Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy.

Sandberg says she now feels grateful for the growth she experienced through the months following her husband’s death, despite the tragic circumstances in which it transpired. After hearing Sandberg’s story, attendees of the Women in Business Breakfast had the opportunity to discuss instances from their own lives where setbacks have initiated personal growth.

Department Chair and Associate Professor of Business Joyce LeMay described how instances of tragedy within her family have made her “take the little things less seriously.” Others, including Holly Bjelland ’18, noted that their suffering has allowed them to more effectively empathize with others. “If I see someone hurting, my first thought shouldn’t be, 'Oh, we're not that close, it might be weird,’” says Bjelland. “Instead, my first thought should be to show up for that person in some small way. If I don't take that step, who will?”

Setbacks are likely in any career and field. “The question of how to overcome adversity and still perform well as a leader is something…we can all learn from,” says innovation and entrepreneurship major Chinyere Okafor ’20. Practicing how to respond to a wide range of difficulties creates resilient, change-driving leaders.