By Esra Hashem
“Gathering with women is as nurturing a thing as I’ve ever known to do,” actress and mother Helen Hunt said Tuesday at the 26th annual Central California Women’s Conference in Fresno. “Many of us, like me, are running on empty half the time. I think events like this – whether its four people in a living room or 3,300 people in a conference room – I think that it waters something that’s pretty key and keeps a whole project going.”
The conference at the Fresno Convention and Entertainment Center drew more than 3,300 attendees, including Fresno State professors, students and alumni.
Nima Davis, a Fresno State graduate student who attended the event, said that to her, the peak point of the conference was obvious.
“Helen Hunt,” Davis said. “I’ve been going to this conference for eight years and I’ve loved every speaker, but I’m especially excited about her.”
Hunt spoke about the portrayal of women in Hollywood and on being a mother. She also emphasized the importance of projects that aim to empower and educate women.
The conference featured more than 100 vendors and offered various sessions such as business and entrepreneurship, health and fitness, money and finance, family and parenting, spirituality and courage, service and activism, and strength and change. More than 30 motivational speakers took part.
Attendees were able to mingle with women in the Valley who shared common interests.
Amanda Fine, a recent Fresno State graduate, followed former professors’ advice and networked with community members. This year, she attended the conference as a social media coordinator for Valley Children’s Hospital.
“It’s a great place for students to connect with others,” Fine said. “There’s all kinds of booths and people here from all walks of life. Everybody has information that students can benefit from.”
Guest speaker Maria Marin also encouraged attendees to network and seize opportunities. She said there is no moment like the present to pursue a dream.
“The longer you wait, the more insecure you become,” Marin said. “The moment that you have a goal in your heart, that is a sign from God and the universe telling you that this is the right time to take action in your life.”
As the first Latina international motivational speaker to ever present at the conference, Marin was able to connect with women in the Valley about her upbringing and how it helped her succeed.
Jasmine Bonilla, a 23-year-old student at Fresno State, said she’s glad to finally see Latin representation at the conference.
“Fresno does have an incredible population of Latinos,” Bonilla said. “Students seeing themselves and their heritage represented at the conference can be inspired by Maria and see that they can achieve great things as well.”