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Motivational life coach to host SDSU Women’s Leadership Summit

Maria Pascucci
Maria Pascucci

Maria Pascucci will give the keynote address for the South Dakota State University Women's Leadership Summit at 7 p.m. April 1 in the Performing Arts Center.

Women of all ages looking for guidance, support and motivation are invited to attend the South Dakota State University Women’s Leadership Summit April 1.

The annual event is sponsored by the Women's Studies Program, Campus Women's Coalition, Women and Giving and NonProfit Leadership Alliance, and will feature keynote speaker, Maria Pascucci.

Pascucci lives in Buffalo, N.Y., with her husband Shaun, and is a motivational speaker, author and life coach. Her passion in life is helping women let go of perfectionism to lead confident and resilient lives.

“Perfectionism is a glorified form of self-abuse that holds women back from growing into the confident, resilient leaders that our world wants now,” said Pascucci. “Dragging ourselves through the mud trying to be perfect doesn’t lead to a healthy self-esteem.

“I used to spend hours trying to find the perfect words to prove to the world that I had talent. Today, I look for the honest words; words that will let rising leaders know they’re not alone when they dream crazy dreams.”

Pascucci will be integral throughout the leadership summit, hosting a morning workshop, and a keynote speech that evening titled, “Get Perfectly Imperfect and Lead.”

The daylong events begin with a leadership workshop titled, “Success Starts with Self-Love.” Led by Pascucci, the workshop will take place in the University Student Union Campanile Room from 9:30 a.m. to 10:45 a.m.

  • From noon to 1:15 p.m., women can bring their lunch to the Campanile Room learn how to be a leader or a member of a “Lean In Circle.”
  • From 5:30 to 6:45 p.m. women are invited to student and faculty poster presentations in the areas of women’s studies, gender studies and leadership at the Performing Arts Center on campus.
  • Pascucci will give the keynote address at 7 p.m. in Larson Concert Hall of the Performing Arts Center.

In the workshop, Pascucci will host an interactive discussion about top confidence killers, and how to break through those. "We can point outside of ourselves and blame the media, or lack of family support growing up, and while these are contributing factors, it's our internal barriers that stand in the way of our happiness," said Pascucci. "It's time to stop defining ourselves by what we accomplish and achieve externally."

During her keynote speech, Pascucci will discuss how perfectionism holds women back from becoming leaders. She will walk the audience through strategies to become confident leaders for life. Attendees receive an eBook of Pascucci's book "Campus Calm University."

Pascucci no longer lets perfectionism run her life; instead she finds happiness by collaborating with her clients, playing with her nieces, cooking healthy, exercising and spending time with her friends and family.

Pascucci speaking at a women's event.
Pascucci speaking at a women's event.

Pascucci is a summa cum laude graduate of Canisius College in Buffalo, N.Y. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and history with a concentration in writing and women’s studies. Pascucci also graduated from the Allstate Minority and Women Emerging Entrepreneurs program offered through the University at Buffalo Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership.

Right after college, Pascucci said, because of her perfectionism, she was burnt out. “I worked in a retail job, then took an internship writing for an online teen magazine,” said Pascucci.

After that, she began working as an advertising copywriter for “The Buffalo News,” and had the opportunity to write freelance feature articles for their editorial department. The first piece she wrote was titled, “In Pursuit of Perfection.”

After writing the research-based article, students, parents and educators flooded her with emails telling her about similar experiences. “The people and experiences that the women wrote about were different, but the messages were inherently the same,” said Pascucci. “They all tied back to perfectionism.

“I decided to start a website called Campus Calm as a forum for women to come and feel connected,” said Pascucci. “I sent a press release announcing my new site, and ‘The Chronicle of Higher Education’ featured it on its website.”

Since then, Pascucci has traveled around the country speaking at colleges and women’s events.

In 2013, Pascucci graduated from iPEC, the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching, to fulfill her dream of empowering others to make sustainable positive change in their lives, and is now a certified professional life coach for women of all ages.

For more information on Pascucci and her work, visit her website.