ROCHESTER, N.Y. — For the third year in a row, the Leadership Academy at Saunders is bringing women together to inspire one another.

“This year the theme is ‘Be the Future You Want,’” said the student summit chair leader for the 2023 Women’s Leadership Summit, Palak Wadhwa.

The event gave students like Palak Wadhwa the chance to learn and connect with successful business leaders to empower young women to look toward the future they desire.

"How do you build a future? You have to start with yourself, right? So just taking that step and building that future, be the future you want,” Wadhwa said.

This year’s summit included a keynote speaker, tech talks, seminars and workshops.

"This year, we planned a networking bingo just so everyone can go talk to people and network a little bit,” she said.

There was also an opportunity for attendees to ask the RIT Leadership panel questions about their experiences in leadership roles.

“So we have six amazing women on the panel this year all representing different backgrounds,” Wadhwa said. “And the whole point of panel is for the audience to ask questions.”

It was a way to help break stigmas and show women the opportunities available to them.

“We at RIT is a technology school, its a male dominant university,” she said. “I know a lot of females who are like, ‘I want to do this but I don’t even know anyone in that position.’ So having these leaders from different industries is really nice because then you can see, ‘oh someone did it now, I can do it.’ Because sometimes people just need to see that, they just need a little bit of a push.”

It’s a feeling that gives Wadhwa hope.

“I mean, it is amazing just to see women in leadership,” Wadhwa said “It’s like, OK, now I can have hope like I can do this, if they did it, I can do it.”