During the first weekend in November, 10 college women leaders traveled from across the country — from as far away as Washington and Oregon and as close as the Washington, D.C., area — to the AAUW national office for the AAUW National Student Advisory Council retreat. These outstanding women with diverse backgrounds and leadership experiences make up this year’s National Student Advisory Council. Throughout their one-year term on the council, the members will advise AAUW about issues facing college women, promote AAUW programs on their campuses, write for AAUW Dialog, and serve as leaders at the annual National Conference for College Women Student Leaders in May.
The retreat began on Friday afternoon with a half-day information session aimed at introducing the SAC members to AAUW staff and giving the college women a deeper understanding of AAUW’s mission and programs. The students discussed events they have hosted on their campuses and issues they would like to target on their campuses over the next year. They also had a chance to get know each other and the AAUW staff better and to meet two local AAUW members over dinner.
On Saturday morning, SAC members volunteered for Walk Now for Autism Speaks on the National Mall, where they helped register walkers, prepare donated refreshments, and cheer on the participants. To keep warm on the chilly morning and to keep spirits high, the students did jumping jacks together, took photos with mascots, and danced to the live band.
Following the walk, SAC members had a busy afternoon visiting the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, the U.S. Capitol, and the Sewall-Belmont House and Museum, where they learned about the historic National Woman’s Party, the fight for women’s suffrage, the Equal Rights Amendment campaign, and the political cartoons of Nina Allender. Huong Nguyen, a student from Washington and Jefferson College, said visiting the museum was her favorite event from the retreat. Nguyen said she liked the museum because she “learned a lot, and the museum sparked my curiosity to learn more.”
The retreat wrapped up on Sunday morning with a brief session at the hotel to answer
questions and to set the SAC’s leadership goals, which included forming relationships with AAUW local branch members, encouraging women to join AAUW and to attend NCCWSL, becoming more involved with their campuses’ women’s centers, and executing events on campus. SAC members also noted what personal skills they hope to develop or improve, including public speaking, programming implementation, networking, and blogging. The students are looking forward to reuniting at NCCWSL and using their skills to mentor other student leaders.
The retreat left me feeling inspired and encouraged by these fantastic women student leaders. I look forward to getting to know them better throughout the year. If you have SAC members in your area, please reach out and involve them in your local activities. They will tell their stories of student leadership on campus through guest blog posts on AAUW Dialog. We look forward to welcoming them back to the D.C. area for NCCWSL in May.
This post was written by AAUW College/University Relationships Intern Courtney Douglas.