Words of encouragement

Stephens College graduate discusses book and life, while offering support.
Thursday, February 10, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 3:50 p.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

Freezing rain didn’t stop them, nor did the steadily falling snow.

Braving Tuesday evening’s inclement weather, about 50 people attended Lyah Beth LeFlore’s lecture, book reading and signing at Stephens College.

Interjecting relevant passages from her book, she talked about her debut novel, “Cosmopolitan Girls,” and her life since graduating from Stephens in 1991.

Diamond Scott, a senior at Rock Bridge High School, came to LeFlore’s lecture after hearing about it from her stepmother. “It was inspiring to hear her speak,” Scott said. “She helped me to put things in perspective and not get too stressed.”

Following the lecture, Scott purchased LeFlore’s book and chatted with the author as she signed it.

Symone Langston-Thomas, a home-school communicator at Hickman High School and creator/director of No Limits Ladies, said she thinks LeFlore will give her students hope.

“I’ve known Lyah for 15 years, and she is a prime example of what a ‘No Limit Lady’ is,” said Langston-Thomas.

The group has a motto that ends with “If I can conceive it and believe it, I can achieve it,” a saying that resonates with LeFlore.

“I want women to feel empowered and take hold of their future,” LeFlore said. “We need to stop being so hard on ourselves. We are fierce, fabulous and fearless.”

For LeFlore, this weeklong visit has been a long time coming. In an interview on Tuesday, the novelist said this was her first time back at Stephens since graduating in 1991. Her mother asked her to get back in touch with her alma mater, she said, and finally, in October, she contacted the Office of Alumnae Relations. That led her to talk with Judith Clark, chairperson of the English/creative writing department.

Though LeFlore couldn’t arrange her schedule to teach for a semester, she was happy to do a series of events.

“Stephens holds a special place in my heart, and I wanted to rekindle my connection,” she said. “I wanted to enrich, enlighten and inspire the women of this community. I feel that giving back is important for my work to evolve.”

During her lecture Tuesday night, LeFlore announced that she wanted to establish an African-American alumni group at Stephens, likely to start in 2006.

“There is a commonality to all Stephens women, an air about us,” she said. “We are all destined for success, whether we go to a big city, stay in our hometown or work right here in Columbia, we can all be ‘Cosmopolitan Girls.’”

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