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The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

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Bodensteiner speaks on overcoming personal struggles

Bodensteiner previously served on the Committee on Women’s Athletics and the Division I Women’s Basketball Committee. PHOTO: MITCHELL SHIELDS ’22/THE HAWK

In a packed hall at The Greater Philadelphia Expo Center, with over 650 people in attendance, Jill Bodensteiner, J.D., director of athletics, delivered a speech focusing on vulnerability, change and overcoming social anxiety, on Oct. 25.

Bodensteiner was the keynote speaker at this year’s Valley Forge Tourism and Convention Board’s annual sports-themed luncheon. The Valley Forge Tourism and Convention Board is a nonprofit that promotes Montgomery County and Valley Forge as a destination for tourists to visit and stay through the advertisement of local hotels, restaurants and attractions.

After speeches and remarks from company representatives, Bodensteiner took the stage. She introduced herself and then posed rhetorical questions to the packed crowd.

“How in touch are you with your own strengths and weaknesses?” Bodensteiner asked the crowd during her keynote speech. “Do you ever make yourself truly vulnerable in front of others?”

Fostering this type of mindset, one that considers these questions, is why Mike Bowman, president and CEO of the Valley Forge Tourism and Convention Board, asked Bodensteiner to be the keynote speaker.

“That’s what I admire about Jill [Bodensteiner], her elite thinking,” Bowman said. “She’s confident and her background supports that.”

Edward Harris ’01, chief marketing officer of the Valley Forge Tourism and Convention Board, agreed, saying that Bodensteiner’s name rose straight to the top during the decision process.

“With the combination of sports and dynamic female leadership at a Division I university, she felt right for this year’s event,” Harris said.

In the beginning of her talk, Bodensteiner posed specific questions to hit on multiple points, largely “self-awareness” and a “mindset of growth.” She said these are critical ideas in order to discover what drives people and what makes people unique.

“Life can be far more fulfilling if we define our own identity rather than conforming to how people perceive us,” Bodensteiner said.

Bodensteiner drew from her life experiences to express that particular sentiment, along with various others throughout her speech. In terms of growth, change and vulnerability, Bodensteiner said she struggled with all three for the first 35 years of her life.

Whether it was through practicing law early in her career or serving in the athletics department at the University of Notre Dame, Bodensteiner felt that a fixed mindset, one that remains stationary, was holding her back. Bodensteiner said she wanted those in attendance to leave with a mindset of growth.

“Everybody has something to be anxious about in their lives,” Bodensteiner told The Hawk after her speech. “It’s something that might hold them back if they’re afraid to talk about it. It held me back. If one person leaves here with a mindset of addressing what’s holding them back, that’s the goal.”

This way of thinking, one that inspires others, aligned with Bowman’s goals for the event.

“Bodensteiner is great for our message: being fearless, bold and elite,” Bowman said.

Bodensteiner said she wants people to feel comfortable with themselves. She said when you’re clear about who you are, through the good and bad, the sky’s the limit.”

“I’m so comfortable with myself now that it makes recovering from difficult times that much easier,” Bodensteiner said at the end of her speech. “Let’s agree to take care of ourselves. Commit to being vulnerable and find the mindset to push forward.”

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