Posts Tagged ‘Career Development Grant’

Our tough economy has kept many individuals from pursuing career goals that in previous years would have been considered attainable. Sequetta Sweet, a 2006–07 Career Development Grantee, chose to continue chasing her dreams despite the current risks. After working in information technology for more than 20 years, Sweet began to realize that she was dissatisfied with her career. She tried other ventures, including starting a tutoring center and taking an adjunct teaching job. However, she still felt unfulfilled. “I just felt like there was something more to life,” she says. Frustrated, Sweet quit her IT job in hopes of figuring out what she really wanted to do when she “grew up.”

Sweet first recognized her passion for and strong ability with computers after taking her first computer course in 10th grade. She originally wanted to be a math teacher but settled into a career as a systems analyst after learning more about teachers’ starting salaries. Sweet thought she would be pursuing this career “forever,” but to her surprise, it was just the beginning. Sweet found a way to combine her strong interest in teaching and training with her technical background. To fulfill this passion and also change careers, she decided to go back to school. An AAUW Career Development Grant helped fund her first year of graduate school as she pursued her master’s degree in human resources. “I am very grateful for AAUW’s help,” she says.

In 2005, Sweet founded Atteuq Potential Unlimited, which offers training, development, and facilitation to people who are interested in starting consulting businesses. Atteuq provides tools that help improve performance and provides coaching services to help individuals find themselves. Sweet admits that running a business is very difficult, especially when it is her main source of income. She is constantly trying to find new ways to promote and improve her business. Nonetheless, being in the classroom makes the struggle worth it: “I love seeing the lightbulb effect people get when they learn something new or understand a new concept,” she says. This motivates her to keep moving forward.

Sweet has accomplished a lot over the last year. Upon finishing her dissertation, she earned her doctoral degree in education and executive leadership from St. John Fisher College. Sweet is currently running Atteuq’s trainings on her own but hopes to bring in more trainers. In addition, she would like to teach higher education courses at a college or university.

Sweet says she has learned a lot in her journey — and she has plenty of advice and wisdom to share. She believes that we tend to stay stagnant due to hardships that are beyond our control but that it is important that we continue to pursue what we love. It is vital that you not only have goals but that you also do all that you can to accomplish them. “There is such a thing as creating opportunity for yourself,” she says. “Go for it! Figure them out, devise a plan, and work toward it.” Sweet reminded me that I am in control of my own destiny. “Don’t let life rule you. You rule life.”

Sweet’s Career Development Grant was made possible by seven grants: the AAUW Auburn (CA) Branch Research and Projects Grant, the AAUW Eugene (OR) Branch/Mary Brockelbank Research and Projects Grant, the Dawn Gordner/AAUW Livermore-Pleasanton (CA) Branch Research and Projects Grant, the Shirley Melchor Mainwaring/AAUW Menlo-Atherton (CA) Branch Research and Projects Grant, the Mary F. Plath Research and Projects Grant, the Helen Putnam/AAUW Petaluma (CA) Branch/AAUW Santa Rosa (CA) Branch 50th Anniversary Research and Projects Grant, and the AAUW Tustin (CA) Branch Research and Projects Grant.

This post was written by AAUW Fellowships and Grants Intern Bianca Rhule.

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Stephanie Castillo

Stephanie Castillo

Since the launch of the AAUW Fellowships and Grants LinkedIn group, I’ve connected with and received some great stories from our alumnae, including independent filmmaker Stephanie Castillo, a 1998–99 Career Development Grantee and a 1999–00 Selected Professions Fellow. Castillo’s magnetic LinkedIn posts caught my eye, and I got a better sense of her spirited personality when I spoke with her. When talking about the regional Emmy Award she won for her documentary Simple Courage, Castillo said, “Well, in my book, an Emmy is an Emmy.” It made me laugh, and I have to agree completely!

Interacting with Castillo will leave you inspired. She is proof that it’s never too late to go back to school. At 30 years old, she started her freshman year of college. And at age 50, she began her first year as a master’s student in executive business administration. Castillo stressed following your passion and path in life, a lesson that led her to work in Hollywood as a young woman. There, she was introduced to film as an art form, not just entertainment.

Castillo is in the process of making her 10th documentary but says that Simple Courage, her first, is still her most cherished. That film examines the history behind the late 19th century leprosy epidemic in Hawaii and the intervention of Belgian missionary Father Damien. Since its debut in 1992, the documentary has aired on more than 100 public broadcast stations and earned her a regional Emmy in San Francisco and Hawaii.

Castillo’s commitment to her craft is unwavering. For the five years she spent making her first film, she did not watch documentaries from other artists. She wanted to develop a documentary that was “poetic as well as original.” She pushed the limits of her imagination and creativity and challenged herself along the way. Castillo spent two and a half years fundraising for her $500,000 budget, a process that led to her interest in getting an executive MBA.

When she enrolled in school, Castillo was already a veteran filmmaker, but she knew that being business savvy would help her parlay her skills as an artist. She was right! Business is central to the filmmaking process. She integrates her knowledge about how to approach effective fundraising from a business perspective rather than the more common artistic viewpoint. Castillo pointed out that “most artists assume that people should just fund their work because they like the idea or enjoy art.” Given her success, the integration of these two worlds clearly works out well for her.

As Castillo said, “Do you believe an AAUW sister could do this? Do I hear some amens, hoorays, or right-ons out there?”

We send many cheers to Castillo for her success!

This post was written by AAUW Fellowships and Grants Intern Elyssa Shildneck.

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Last week, AAUW fellowship and grant recipients, local alumnae, and selection panelists gathered at the AAUW national office for our annual spring luncheon. In addition to enjoying lunch and dessert, women across generations and professional and academic fields made connections with one another.

Sarah Weilant, a 2011–12 Career Development Grantee, and Diane Holt, a Career Development Grant selection panelist, bonded over their shared passion for international work while two women who earned their grants in 1978, Margaret Conover and Nancy Lubin, met for the first time after receiving their awards more than 30 years ago. Conover and Lubin joked about how times have changed — fellows can now receive notification of their awards via e-mail. Each woman had her own story about how she first discovered that she had been selected as an AAUW awardee. In 2011, Destiny Aman was shocked when she saw her name listed as an American Fellow. Aman, one of the most charismatic AAUW fellows I have met, explained how she read the list about 15 times in disbelief and asked her housemates whether it was for real. Needless to say, there was plenty of laughter in the room.

Aside from jokes about dissertations written on typewriters, we engaged in a valuable conversation about mentorship. Each attendee spoke of her realization that a single action is powerful. Ayana Johnson, a 2010–11 American Fellow, recently learned that a young woman from California chose to study marine biology at the University of California, San Diego, after seeing a poster of Johnson in a local airport. Johnson explained that the student saw this poster and said, “Well, she looks like me. I could be a marine biologist too.” These stories illustrate how small things can have a large impact. Aman, for example, said that the simple act of asking to assist in someone’s research gave her the opportunity to spend six weeks in Madagascar.

The luncheon allowed us to get to know fellowship and grant recipients on a more personal level. The awardees made connections with each other and with AAUW. Coming together to share experiences, network, and discover common bonds is an important part of the AAUW experience.

Please know that our doors are always open to any fellow or grantee who is visiting Washington, D.C.! Get in touch by e-mail or by calling 800/326-AAUW.

This post was written by AAUW Fellowships and Grants Intern Elyssa Shildneck.

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Many people choose careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) because these fields are challenging, exciting, and present great opportunities for satisfying work and a good living. Unfortunately, women sometimes choose to leave STEM career paths because they are discouraged by the cold climate for women and a lack of mentors and role models.

Wonder Women of STEM

But with the help of their mentors, our two guests for the Wonder Women of STEM! Webcast — which will take place on Thursday, April 26 — successfully launched their STEM careers. And they continue to work with STEM today.

Guest speaker and AAUW Career Development Grantee Lisa Lord

When cyber-information analyst Lisa Lord entered her first technical job, she says a new manager named Margaret “recognized that even though I was hired into an administrative position, I had a lot more potential than that.” The relationship blossomed, and the two are now friends. Margaret helped Lord advance within the company and even supported her when she decided to go to another organization. Margaret  opened up the opportunity for Lord to take on a security-clearance position at Northrop Grumman, where she now works. With support from her company and a Career Development Grant from AAUW, Lord was able to go back to school to earn a degree in cyber security.

Lord knows that furthering her education will increase her job security in a growing field, but she says that her 5-year-old daughter has been a great motivation as well.

“I want her to know whatever she is passionate about, she can do,” Lord says. “It doesn’t have to be traditionally female or traditionally anything — if she is good at it and wants to do it, she can.”

Guest speaker and AAUW senior researcher Christianne Corbett

For Christianne Corbett, AAUW senior researcher and co-author of the report Why So Few? Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, a career in STEM seemed like fate. In high school, she decided not to take calculus, but within weeks she was spending her lunch hour tackling formulas and equations. In college, she declared a social science major, but by junior year she was playing catch-up for a second major in engineering.

Before coming to AAUW, Corbett had a job in aerospace engineering. Women mentors not only became her natural friends in the office, they also helped her handle an out-of-line boss and were the reason she was hired and moved up in the company. Corbett enjoyed working with engineers who she felt were focused and straightforward, and the salary was substantial. But because she had little interest in the defense sector, the right balance still wasn’t there. That pull between doing work around social issues and pursuing STEM is something a lot of women struggle with, Corbett says, but now she has found that she can do both in her research for AAUW.

Hear more from Lord and Corbett by joining AAUW and the JASON Project for the first Wonder Women of STEM! webcast on Thursday, April 26. To listen to and interact with these exceptional women, tune in online at 10 a.m. or 2 p.m. EDT for Corbett’s interview and at noon or 4 p.m. EDT to hear our conversation with Lord. Share this opportunity with the young people in your life so that they can see what it means to be a STEM role model — and perhaps become mentors themselves!

This post was written by AAUW Marketing and Communications Intern Marie Lindberg.

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The documentary Miss Representation, recently aired on the Oprah Winfrey Network, provides startling facts about women’s portrayal and representation in media. The world of media, television, and movies often construct images of women as sexualized objects or unintelligent sidekicks when compared with male counterparts, leaving our culture with a negative perception of female empowerment.

Eden Wurmfeld, 1998–99 Career Development Grantee, aspired to earn her master’s degree in film and television production in order to combat these stereotypes and provide positive images of women. Wurmfeld received her master’s in fine arts from the University of California, Los Angeles, and achieved the goal she set out to do. As the producer of Kissing Jessica Stein, she helped tell the story of friendship and romantic love between two women. The award-winning comedy deconstructs conventional interpretations of gender roles, romance, and friendship, leaving viewers with a poignant yet comedic story.

Wurmfeld recently spoke at the National Museum for Women in the Arts in conjunction with the screening of a film she produced, No Impact Man. This film follows a Manhattan family’s quest to eliminate their impact on the environment. Colin Beavan and his family live sustainably for a year, forgoing wrapped goods, using only self-generated transportation, and buying locally. Aside from producing the film, Wurmfeld contributes to the film’s blog, writing posts detailing her attempt at composting and using cloth diapers for her son. No Impact Man is a film with heart, skeletally about people and relationships. Wurmfeld asserts that “the no-impact year had huge reverberations in my life, causing me to reconsider everything.” The documentary is tentatively scheduled to air on OWN this month.

Today, Wurmfeld is working on several creative projects. The television series Habeas on the Gate is about an elite New York lawyer at a corporate firm who finds his calling in nearly impossible pro bono cases that challenge his legal skills and idealism. The first season details the case of Jumah al Dossari, a prisoner at Guantanamo Bay, and the unlikely friendship that develops between the lawyer and his client. Her other television project, Bringing Up Mom, is a comedy about the experience of two adult siblings who find their mom has become like a teenage daughter after the death of their father.      

Wurmfeld has been honored for her work; she received the UCLA film school’s alumni association award in 2003 and was named one of Variety’s 10 Producers to Watch. Her passion for creating and telling a good story is one that resonates in her passion for her projects. I encourage you to see her acclaimed and proud accomplishments Kissing Jessica Stein, No Impact Man, The Hammer, and Sunset Story. I assure you that they will leave you reconsidering your impact on life beyond that of the surface story they tell.

This blog was written by Fellowships and Grants Intern Elyssa Shildneck.

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American Fellow Miriam Matthews (right) with AAUW Laguna Hills (CA) Branch President Patricia Allgeier

There are many rewarding aspects to working in Fellowships and Grants at AAUW, but one in particular is reading about all the amazing accomplishments of our outgoing fellowship and grant recipients in their final reports. Some have graduated and are venturing into the working world; others are finding new inspiration as they make the final push to complete their degrees. All have remarkable stories to tell, which we hope to share in the Following the Fellows blog series in the future.

Here are some interesting numbers from 2010–11 that display the connection between these projects and AAUW’s work.

The number of fellows or grantees who were invited to a branch meeting or event: 120

The number of fellows or grantees who became AAUW members during their grant year: 50

The number of Community Action Grantees who collaborated with AAUW branches: 12

Impressive as these numbers are, they don’t capture the passion of our alumnae’s work or their appreciation for AAUW’s support. Here’s what a few of those fellows and grantees had to say.

“I enjoyed so much being able to see the faces of our sponsors. I have found AAUW’s work so inspiring. I have met wonderful women who dedicate themselves to make this world a better place for women and girls through sponsoring opportunities for a better life.”

—     Maria Guadalupe Bravo Vinaja, International Fellow

“I am honored and grateful to have received an AAUW fellowship. I have met multiple women affiliated with AAUW during this fellowship year, and I have been consistently impressed with their kindness, intellect, and drive.”

—     Miriam Matthews, American Fellow

“I feel a tremendous sense of pride being a part of the AAUW legacy. The importance of what women can contribute to academics remains a guiding issue in the conduct of my research. I believe that being a fellow has validated my current work in the eyes of those who hold academic power and those who take an active interest in women’s issues.”

—     Stefanie Toise, American Fellow

“Knowing that this grant came to me in order to support me as a woman, from other women who have professional degrees and know the value of that, so that I can change my life and my career, means so much to me. I feel encouraged and supported, and this has been very helpful to me as I pursue my degree.”

—     Samantha Ostergaard, Career Development Grantee

“AAUW is a real-life fairy godmother to me. The money was incredibly helpful, but the honor of being chosen gave me confidence I didn’t know I needed. I feel like Cinderella, only instead of giving me clothes, you gave me strength.”

—     Anne Kahle, Career Development Grantee

“This is such an empowering fellowship, and just knowing that there are so many other women who work hard and lead inspiring lives is amazing. I am proud of being awarded this fellowship and will continue to encourage other women to become involved in this association.”

—     Kelley Sullivan, Selected Professions Fellow

This post was written by Laura Blyler and Lesley Perry from AAUW’s Fellowships and Grants Department.

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U.S. health care reform has many advocates and champions seeking solutions to address the challenges that our nation faces in delivering care and service. Lisa Tshuma, a 2005–06 Career Development Grant recipient, has combined her interest in medicine, community health, and children’s literacy to tackle these problems at Family Health Centers of San Diego, where she is a physician assistant. Family Health Centers of San Diego, the second-largest community health center in the country, provides quality, affordable health care to anyone in need through 19 sites, including 12 primary care clinics that offer adult, pediatric, women’s health, and HIV services; three dental clinics; a vision clinic; and three mobile medical units.

Tshuma was first introduced to community health during her undergraduate internship in 1994. More than 10 years later, her AAUW Career Development Grant enabled her to rediscover and pursue her passion for community health and health policy through a Master of Public Administration degree. “Through this fellowship, I was able to do research that allowed me to discover my niche in medicine,” Tshuma explains. Her master’s research project, funded by AAUW, focused on how physician assistants could help eliminate health care disparities in underserved and minority populations. After earning her degree, Tshuma put her hypothesis in motion by becoming a physician assistant. She completed the University of Utah’s physician assistant program, which is ranked as one of the top six programs in the country and where her passion for underserved and international medicine was encouraged throughout her medical training.

www.reachoutandread.orgIn conjunction with her work as a physician assistant, Tshuma recently established a new clinical site for the Reach Out and Read program at City Heights Family Health Center in San Diego. Reach Out and Read is a nonprofit organization that promotes children’s literacy by providing books and training clinicians to use reading as an evaluation and literacy-promotion tool at well-child checkup visits for children from 6 months to 5 years old. Because more than one-third of America’s children enter kindergarten without basic reading skills, this program hopes to provide another outlet for literacy promotion that also involves parents.

Looking toward the future, Tshuma would like to use the knowledge that she has gained both in her work as a physician assistant and her research on health care disparities and health policy to go into teaching at the clinical and university level. “I would like to help develop medical providers that advocate for underserved patients at clinical, local, and national policy levels,” Tshuma says. She credits and applauds the faculty at the University of Utah physician assistant program for inspiring her to pursue a career in academic and community medicine. She strongly encourages young women who want to make a difference in people’s lives to consider becoming a physician assistant. “I’ve had such a great experience being a PA. It’s an amazing career where you can really help people and be involved in science”.

This post was written by AAUW Fellowships and Grants Intern Mia Cakebread

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For almost 130 years, AAUW has been opening the doors of higher education and providing opportunities for women through its fellowship and grant programs. This year, AAUW has awarded $3.2 million in support of 215 remarkable scholars, research projects, and programs promoting education and equity for women and girls.

Natalie Dawson, 2010–11 American Fellow

Natalie Dawson, 2010–11 American Fellow

We are thrilled to launch the latest Directory of Fellowship and Grant Recipients We invite you to check out all the women and projects that AAUW is supporting during the 2010–11 academic year, women like Natalie Dawson, who received an American Fellowship to help her publish her research on biological diversity of western North American mammals. Or like Career Development Grant recipient Shariffa Sabrie, who is pursuing a master’s degree in educational administration so that she can improve the lives of refugee women and their children. Or Vivian Nixon, who is leading a Community Action Grant project on behalf of College and Community Fellowship to provide academic and financial aid counseling to previously incarcerated women who are now pursuing college degrees.

Shariffa Sabrie, 2010–11 Career Development Grantee

Shariffa Sabrie, 2010–11 Career Development Grantee

AAUW is also excited to announce that applications for our 2011–12 grants and fellowships are now available online. Women pursuing graduate study or individuals, organizations, and AAUW branches or states working on community projects that build equity and education for women and girls may be eligible for support under one of our five programs: American Fellowships, International Fellowships, Selected Professions Fellowships, Career Development Grants, and Community Action Grants. Deadlines vary by program but range from November 2010 to January 2011. Be sure to check out the guidelines and application instructions to find out if you are eligible to apply.

Vivian Nixon of College and Community Fellowship, 2010–11 Community Action Grantee

Vivian Nixon of College and Community Fellowship, 2010–11 Community Action Grantee

Through our fellowships and grants, AAUW is breaking through barriers so that all women have a fair chance!

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