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Women’s conference puts spotlight on can-do attitude
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Deborah K. Mack speaks about the challenges she has faced in her professional and personal life as a woman of color during the 5th Annual Women’s Leadership Colloquium in Gainesville, on Friday, March 16, 2018. Speakers at the event shared their stories and advice to women who lead or aspire to lead. - photo by David Barnes

When Carole Ann Carter Daniel speaks, women listen.

That was evident when Daniel took the stage Friday, March 16, at the Women’s Leadership Colloquium held at the John S. Burd Center for the Performing Arts on the campus of Brenau University in Gainesville.

“You have to have the courage and determination to make things happen,” Daniel, the business development executive of family-owned Carroll Daniel Construction Co., told a packed audience.

And her words resonated deeply with young students in attendance.

Aziza Rodriguez, a pre-med sophomore, for instance, was inspired by Daniel’s speech. 

“We don’t always hear that from other women,” she said. “It’s important to hear that from a woman because maybe she has a similar perspective.”

Daniel spoke about how she was brought into the family business by her late husband in the 1970s to balance the books when she “couldn’t even balance my own checkbook.”

But Daniel figured it out, she said, like so many women when challenged personally or professionally.

“We make it happen,” she said. “The word ‘can’t’ isn’t in our family vocabulary.”

Later in life, Daniel said she worked with the Gainesville City School System to develop a life skills course with a particular focus on teaching students personal finance.

Along the way, she missed some “milestone” moments, like when her son took his first steps, Daniel said.

“But that is the way it is” for many women, she added.

Rodriguez said getting rid of that “can’t-do attitude” is crucial.

“I find myself a lot of time not taking opportunities because I think I’m not qualified or I don’t know if I’m able to do that,” she added.

And for Simone Lewis, a senior mass communication student at Brenau, the leadership event that brought successful women to campus to share their stories of achievements was hopeful and much needed. 

“It’s about defining your moment,” she said. “I think that’s something each speaker brings. I’ll be back next year.”