Olympic gold medalist Ruthie Bolton speaks at CRC

Bolton speaks to audience members at the women's conference on Nov. 4.
Lola Chase
Bolton speaks to audience members at the women’s conference on Nov. 4.

Women participated in the second Focus 4 Women event on Friday with special keynote speaker Ruthie Bolton as a continuation of the “First me, Then You: Relationship Building” conference.

Bolton has been a speaker for women’s empowerment and self-healing for the past 10 years. The two-time olympic gold medal winner and former WNBA player of the Sacramento Monarchs shared her stories of perseverance, domestic abuse, healing, self-love and self-empowerment.

The coordinator of the program, Jacqueline Mathis, said she hopes to hold this event every year. “We want students to know that we are still there for them to help them. School is not just academic, it’s emotional,” said Mathis. “A lot of our students are going through domestic abuse and you wouldn’t even know. This is to help them find their voice.”

Throughout her journey, Bolton, has played basketball professionally for 15 years, and was USA Basketball Female Athlete of the Year. She was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 1991, wrote her own book The Ride of a Lifetime: Making of the Mighty Ruthie, released a gospel CD and she will soon be releasing a documentary of her personal story.

“When you flex your muscles, you turn your pain into your power,” Bolton said. “I get up every day asking ‘How can I be a better person? How can I be a better mother, a better wife, a better me?’”

Women who attended the previous workshop on Sept. 17 gave summaries of the important topics covered: forgiveness, health, leadership from the inside out, workplace ethics and etiquette.

“For me, [this conference] was about self persona, character, respect and self empowering. I love female empowerment and it’s good to have that safe space with other women,” said 24-year-old student ambassador and psychology major Stephanie Rivera.

The conference emphasized forgiving toxic people. “There’s no resentment, so he [Bolton’s abuser] has no power over me anymore,” said Bolton.

Bolton said that she was excited to speak with the women, and that her purpose is to impact others. “Every time I go to a place, their impact has an impact on me,” said Bolton. “It’s so important to talk to college students because they have to be able to learn about themselves too and it’s such an important time in their life.”

Rivera said she was emotionally touched by Bolton at the event. “She was a genuine, authentic presence. Her vulnerability was really powerful and showed how to find your strength,” she said.

Cosumnes River College President Edward Bush spoke of the importance of students’ emotional states in academics.

“This has a potentially huge impact, on a variety of factors, to success, more than just in the classroom because there is a huge value in peer support. Knowing that other people have experienced the same things as you is transformational,” Bush said.

Mathis and her Focus 4 Women team intend to hold an overnight event on March 10-11 at Woodleaf for the women who attended one or both of the conferences.

“I’m happy with the event today. It was successful. I really hope to bring people to the retreat, and surprisingly it’s all for free,” said Mathis.

Mathis also mentioned that she hopes to make a similar event for men “because we all need some healing.”

Bolton ended her keynote speech at the event saying “I love you. Please keep living your life and flexing your muscles to a better you.”