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Posts Tagged ‘Student Advisory Council’

From the time I was a little girl, my parents instilled in me the value and importance of an education. I always knew that I was meant to go to high school and college. Now that I am in college, I have noticed that many of the younger girls I know are not motivated to do the same. And I asked myself, Why, and what can we do?

Part of my question was answered in November, when I had the privilege of volunteering at the Adelante/Moving Forward with STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) conference, which was co-hosted by the AAUW Elgin Area (IL) Branch, League of United Latin American Citizens, Elgin Community College, and Judson University. The conference was intended to support Latina girls in middle and high school while encouraging them to pursue STEM fields as possible future career choices. Many of the activities emphasized STEM and the bond in Latino families. The girls attended with their moms, many of whom did not go to college themselves, and the conference also emphasized helping the mothers understand the importance of the college experience and the impact it can have on their daughters.

Volunteers from Elgin Community CollegeOne of the most touching moments of the conference was the book discussion about The House on Mango Street. Lizette Beltran, a Bartlett High School alumna, talked about the importance of having her mom’s support in school and in overcoming obstacles. This prompted many of the moms to ask how they can help their own daughters and what the volunteers’ own moms have done to help us succeed. To me, this was the most fascinating aspect of the conference!

I have a strong bond with my mom, and her support of my education has been very important. From my own experience, I think that encouraging girls at a younger age, especially ethnic minority students, to go to college is crucial to establishing their motivation to continue their education. Minority college students are more at-risk for obstacles in their educational pursuits and often lack knowledge of college options. But having another woman give you her undivided support can go a long way, especially if that woman is your mom.

By encouraging mothers to learn about their daughters’ educational interests, conferences like these offer mothers a better understanding of what college will entail. This is a win-win situation because girls’ enrollment will likely increase and the mother-daughter bond will be strengthened — just like mine was with my mom.

Although this conference was geared toward STEM pursuits, its format could be used in any field of study by including moms and changing the activities to fit the desired specialty. Not only will the conference expose girls to a field of study that interests them, but it will also drive students to work hard in high school and earn better grades, allowing them to enroll at a higher education institution. Similarly, if a girl feels like she is making the wrong choices, an opportunity like this could still come early enough for her to change her habits and do better in school. Although this was the first time that I encountered this type of conference, I have no doubt that it can make a great impact on young girls. From what I have seen, a little support and the proper guidance can truly impact girls’ lives.

This post was written by National Student Advisory Council member Nanci Alanis.

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The end of a year is always a good time to reflect on the accomplishments and joys of the last 12 months and to look ahead to the new year. I spoke recently with members of the newly installed executive board of the AAUW student organization at the University of Michigan, Dearborn, about their highlights from 2012 and their goals for the new term. The UM-Dearborn organization got its legs in early 2012 after four students attended the National Conference for College Women Student Leaders (NCCWSL) in May 2011. I was lucky enough to hear from Tina Nelson, president of AAUW UM-Dearborn, and Benita Robinson, membership coordinator of AAUW UM-Dearborn and 2012–13 National Student Advisory Council member, about their 2012 reflections and 2013 goals.

UM-Dearborn students at NCCWSL

Highlights from 2012

  • Starting the AAUW student organization at UM-Dearborn — an idea sparked by NCCWSL 2011
  • Attending NCCWSL 2012 with 34 UM-Dearborn students and 27 students from 13 other Michigan colleges and universities
  • Presenting the Five Easy Steps to Starting an Organization on Campus workshop at NCCWSL 2012
  • Teaching members of the college community about issues of inequality and ways we can work to combat inequality and discrimination
  • Networking with other women and hearing stories of their successes and obstaclesAAUW UM-Dearborn members painted the University rock with AAUW’s logo
  • Painting the university rock during election week with AAUW’s logo and a reminder to vote — a night that made us feel radical and bold

Goals for 2013

  • Engage and excite our members about our organization
  • Return to NCCWSL in May with other members
  • Sustain and further develop the relationships that we have with the AAUW Dearborn (MI) Branch and AAUW of Michigan

I can tell that the AAUW student organization at the University of Michigan, Dearborn, is going to do great things in 2013.

If you are inspired to start an AAUW student organization on your college or university campus, send us an e-mail at coll-univ@aauw.org with “student organization” in the subject line. You can also check out our Program in a Box for more information on forming an AAUW student org.

This post was written by AAUW College/University Relationships Intern Courtney Douglas.

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Mentors can help shape and guide the experiences of their mentees, and this relationship can have a lifelong impact. As the first person in my household to go to college, I know that mentors played a critical part in my leadership development and my decision to pursue graduate school. Mentors like my colleague Kandy Mink Salas, who wrote her dissertation on college women and their leadership aspirations, and Tony Ragazzo, my student leadership advisor who told me that I should go to graduate school, both played a key role in my undergraduate success.

mentorship blog christine with menteesWhen I was a campus administrator, I tried to pay it forward in my work with students. Many of them had the capacity to lead, and it has been a privilege to serve as a mentor. Now in my job at AAUW, I still get to do this great work through the many AAUW leadership programs that help empower college women across the country. Programs like the National Student Advisory Council and Elect Her–Campus Women Win and events like the National Conference for College Women Student Leaders help women find their voices and take on greater leadership roles in their communities.

This month, I presented on women and leadership at the Leadership Educators Institute in Columbus, Ohio. One of my key points focused on the serious need for mentors in the lives of college women. I asked participants in my workshop and colleagues on Twitter what words of wisdom they, as mentors to college women leaders, would share. These were some of the responses.

  • mentorship blog notecard“I would encourage critical thinking and validate their ideas. I would seek out resources to share with them and connect them to different people. Also, I would say, The answer is always no if you don’t ask.”
  • “Let her know what options are available to her and why it’s important to try, and/or why [certain options] are a good fit.”
  • “Trust yourself; explore your identity as a woman and what that means to you.”
  • “The harder you work now, the ‘luckier’ you’ll get in the future.”
  • “Never be ashamed to talk about your intelligence. Women aren’t always taught they can be smart and emphasize it.”
  • “Learn to brag! … Then learn when it is appropriate.”
  • “Believing in yourself is part of your growth as a leader and as a woman. If you believe in yourself, you can accomplish anything you put your mind to. I will always be here to guide you.”

What words of wisdom would you share with a college woman?

This post was written by AAUW College/University Relationships Manager Christine Hernandez.

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After a class field trip to the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra last week to see the Nutcracker, my 6-year-old son was so excited to tell me all about it. Except what he ended up telling me had nothing to do with the ballet and everything to do with what he noticed before and after the show. He had counted not one but six homeless individuals and asked me what seemed like a hundred questions — the most important was, What could we do to help them?

Sally Ayers, a homeless resident in my community, who has told me about the rise in homelessness in Howard County, Maryland

In our simple conversation, my son reminded me what the holidays should be about: giving. This is perhaps the best time of year to catch up with friends, spend quality time with family, and invest ourselves in our communities. However, this is also the time of year when Americans spend hours in ridiculously long lines at the mall and camped outside of retail stores fighting for deals, further intensifying the holiday themes of consumption and materialism. Usually left with the feeling of exhaustion versus respite, many experience the need for a holiday do-over. While shopping shouldn’t be regarded as the enemy (after all, it does help boost the economy), it does serve as a distraction from what is really important at this time of year.

Below is just a short list of holiday ideas that can be done in a group or individually but still have an impact. Show that you care about the well-being of others in your community by giving the gift of time — it will cost you little or no money at all.

  • Volunteer for a shift at your local soup kitchen.
  • Check with your local shelter to see if it will take donated blankets, coats, or food.
  • Lead story time at your local library or on the children’s floor at your local hospital.
  • Make or buy a homeless person a meal.
  • Got talent? Sing, dance, play an instrument, make art, or read poetry at a local senior center.
  • Make a meal for the volunteers at your local animal shelter.

Although my son is too young to serve at the local soup kitchen, our family plans to make lasagna trays and cookies at home for a kitchen in our community, in addition to cleaning and preparing meals at a group home that cares for sick children. My son is eager to serve and helped our family remember that the holidays are about what you give, not what you get.

Let’s redefine the holidays by buying less stuff, giving more time, and creating change in our communities.

Photos by Maureen Evans Arthurs

This post was written by National Student Advisory Council member Maureen Evans Arthurs, who was sponsored by Eileen Menton.

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My friends and I have a lot in common, but there is one word that often leads to abrupt disagreements: the f-word. No matter when I say it or to whom, the frequent response is a shudder of the shoulders. Like the other f-word, the sound of the word “feminist” sends chills down others’ spines.

Bethany Imondi spoke about student loans and the pay gap at an AAUW panel in November.

Negative stereotypes of feminists — like bra burning, unshaven underarms, and man hating — perpetuate false assumptions and distract from the true goals of the feminist movement. At its core, feminism simply strives to establish equal opportunities for women, and yet many women today hesitate and feel embarrassed to classify themselves as feminists.

Despite women’s significant gains over the years, including the recent news that a record number of women will serve in the next Congress, other glaring issues of inequity remain. Women may outnumber men in higher education and earn more degrees than ever, but women still earn less than their male peers earn — a significant pay gap exists for women just a year after college graduation. Climbing the corporate ladder remains difficult for women, and positions of leadership continue to be dominated by men.

These dismal facts should be enough to motivate all women to embrace the progressive ideals of feminism. Any person who believes that women deserve equal opportunities is a feminist. Bra burning is not a prerequisite; voting for pro-women’s rights candidates, volunteering at a local women’s shelter, or working to protect women from sexual assault are just a few examples of advocacy on behalf of women’s equality.

Many women my age seem ashamed or embarrassed to identify as feminists when they should be embracing their beliefs. The challenge today lies in convincing women, particularly young women, that there is more to feminism than the backlash of stereotypes that emerged after the activism of the 1960s. In 2012, gender discrimination still exists. It is imperative that today’s generation of women continue the fight their mothers and grandmothers initiated to shatter the glass ceiling. It might not be the sexiest term, but the f-word is one all women should proudly claim, not only to transform the stereotypes but also to promote a more promising future for women of all ages.

This post was written by National Student Advisory Council member Bethany Imondi.

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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 10 SAC members stand in front of the AAUW national office after the first day of their retreat.

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.

The SAC members volunteered at Walk Now for Autism Speaks on Saturday morning.

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

SAC members pose after their private tour in the Sewall-Belmont House and Museum.

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.

SAC members hear from Public Policy staff members Kimberly Fountain and Deborah Swerdlow about get-out-the-vote efforts and other ways to engage students on campus.

This post was written by AAUW College/University Relationships Intern Courtney Douglas.

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Inspired. That’s how I felt when I saw the large number of outstanding applications for the 2012–13 National Student Advisory Council. There are so many women leaders making a difference on college and university campuses across the country.

The 10 outstanding women selected for this year’s council come from a variety of backgrounds and have held a range of leadership positions on their campuses and beyond. Throughout the year, they will grow as AAUW ambassadors on their campuses and in their communities. They will also play an essential role in the planning and implementation of the 2013 National Conference for College Women Student Leaders.

2011-12 National Student Advisory Council members with the 2012 Women of Distinction

Meet the members of this year’s SAC:

  • Nanci Alanis is a junior majoring in psychology at the University of Illinois, Chicago. Alanis transferred from Elgin Community College, where she was involved with student government and was an officer for Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society.
  • Maureen Evans Arthurs is a senior majoring in gender and women’s studies at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. She is the project manager for her university’s Women Involved in Learning and Leadership program and was an AAUW Development intern from 2010 to 2011.
  • Maybellin Burgos is a junior majoring in computer science at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte. She is president of both the Association of Computing Machinery-Women and Students and Technology in Academia, Research, and Service on her campus.
  • Kelly Kay Clark is a graduate student studying higher education administration at the University of Kansas. She is the assistant complex director of an all-women residence hall on campus and was Collegiate Panhellenic Council president when she was an undergraduate student at Texas A&M.
  • Bethany Imondi is a senior majoring in government and English at Georgetown University. She is president of the Georgetown Women in Politics student organization and is an intern at Emily’s List.
  • Natasha Mercado is a sophomore majoring in radiology technology at Bellevue College, where she designed a student club to support women entering the science and health care fields. She also volunteers at a local hospital.
  • Huong Nguyen is a junior majoring in psychology at Washington and Jefferson College. She is president and a founding member of the Diversity Programming Board and is a resident assistant in a first-year hall. She has held leadership positions in the Black Student Union and in student government.
  • Taaj Reaves is a senior majoring in journalism and political science at the University of Missouri. She is president of the AAUW student organization at the University of Missouri. Reaves also serves as a leadership adviser and study abroad student manager on campus.
  • Benita Robinson is a junior majoring in computer science and sociology at the University of Michigan, Dearborn. She is a founder of the AAUW student organization on her campus and is the student coordinator for the Women in Learning and Leadership program.
  • Samaura Stone is a graduate student studying social work at Portland State University. She has experience with political campaigns and has worked for a senator. She is the vice chair of the Oregon Commission on Black Affairs and has been a Multnomah County child advocate for several years.

As in past years, SAC members will write guest blog posts each week, so you will have a chance to read about their student leadership experiences and ideas. This year, all 10 SAC members are enrolled at AAUW college/university partner member schools.

Read more about the Student Advisory Council and our new members. If you want to get connected with one of these students in your state, please contact us.

This post was written by AAUW College/University Relationships Manager Christine Hernandez.

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