How Born This Way Foundation Changed My Life

December 15, 2018

Colleen Werner, 21, was born and raised in Long Island, New York. Colleen is studying psychology at SUNY Old Westbury, and she plans on going to graduate school for mental health counseling to achieve her dream of starting an eating disorder treatment program for dancers. In her free time, Colleen enjoys volunteering as a Crisis Counselor for Crisis Text Line and snuggling with her dogs.

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(BTWF President and Co-founder Cynthia Germanotta and Channel Kindness Reporter Colleen Werner at Mental Health America’s 2018 Annual Conference )

When I first received the phone call letting me know that I had been chosen as part of the 2018 class of Channel Kindness Reporters for Born This Way Foundation, I had no idea how much the program would change my life.

My personal growth through the program started with the amazing workshops at the Channel Kindness Convening in January, and the opportunities only escalated from there. One opportunity I was given through my work with Channel Kindness undoubtedly changed my life — speaking alongside Cynthia Germanotta, president and co-founder of Born This Way Foundation at Mental Health America’s 2018 Annual Conference in Washington, DC.

At just 21 years old while still in college, I never imagined that I’d earn the opportunity to speak at such a prestigious conference in the company of accomplished professionals in my field who I respect greatly. I was able to share my story and my knowledge while also making invaluable connections with peers and potential colleagues. Speaking on the panel at the closing plenary helped me prove to myself that I belong in the mental health field. Thanks to Channel Kindness and their belief in the power of my words and my experiences, I was able to achieve one of my life goals long before I ever thought possible.

Speaking at the conference allowed me to spend one-on-one mentoring time with Cynthia and other amazing individuals. It raised my confidence significantly and helped me realize that while I often doubt myself and my abilities, I am so much smarter and more skilled than I often think.

In addition to speaking at the conference, working with Channel Kindness has also given me the opportunity to connect with many other like-minded young people who are pursuing some of the same dreams as me. My fellow Channel Kindness Reporters have become like family, and while our year as Channel Kindness Reporters is soon coming to an end, I can’t wait to see the amazing accomplishments we all continue to make as Channel Kindness Alumni.

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