Women leaders empower the leaders of tomorrow

Photo by Sophia Belletti.


Photo by Sophia Belletti.
More than 40 students filled the VCU Depot Building for the first-ever “Pathways to Womanhood,” hosted by the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs. Photo by Sophia Belletti.

Some distinguished women from the VCU community came together in a cross between storytelling and fielded questions, with the purpose of sharing women’s experiences in the workforce and at home.

On Nov. 18, more than 40 VCU students filled the VCU Depot Building for the first-ever “Pathways to Womanhood,” a women’s empowerment event put on by the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs.

A panel of four VCU panelists spoke on their personal experiences and answered questions for the first half of the evening.

Panelists included Nakeina Douglas-Glenn, director of the Grace E. Harris Leadership Institute; Kimberly Brown, chair of the Gender, Sexuality, Women’s Studies department; Linda Hancock, Director of the Wellness Resource Center; and Colette McEachin, deputy commonwealth’s attorney for the City of Richmond and VCU board member.

The panel began with brief introductions from each woman, followed by the best, and worst, decisions they ever made. A pattern that was apparent in the women’s responses: a single moment or action in their life was both the worst and best decision they ever made.

Brown called her previous abusive marriage the worst and best decision she ever made. She said she felt trapped, but didn’t feel damaged, because she physically fought back. Her failed marriage gave her the momentum to leave Texas, which she said was ultimately something she longed for.

Once students understood the panelists’ background and who they related to, the floor was open for questions.

The round of student questions began with an audience member asking each woman how they chose their first job.

McEachin gave some comforting words on her time in college, claiming it was truly the best time of her life and encouraged students to live without fear.

“You’re peaking now,” McEachin said. “You graduated from high school and if you look at everyone in the world, you’re at the 1 percent. You may not feel you’re at the 1 percent, but if you look at everyone in the world, because you’re in college, you’re already in the 1 percent. You can use everything around you to your advantage.”

McEachin continued by reminiscing on her personal experiences at Brown University, and how she wished she broke out of her comfort circle and met people who weren’t like her.

Douglas-Glenn spoke about being a first-generation college student. She said she used this as motivation growing up in an area where teen pregnancy was high and many students didn’t go to college.

Douglas-Glenn said connecting with peers and mentors and creating relationships was her formula for success. Similarly to McEachin, Douglas-Glenn said she regrets not expanding her network and meeting people different from herself. She challenged each person in the room to introduce themselves and meet someone new before the end of the evening.

Questions closed with one student asking how each of the women de-stress, something often overlooked by college students. Hancock said she uses running, yoga and meditation.

“Fall in love with something that moves your body,” Hancock said.

The second half of the event was the “vision board party.” Pam Mines, one of the event’s moderators, spoke words of positivity and encouragement. She explained that a vision board is tool used to help clarify, concentrate and maintain focus on a specific life goals.

Mines said she is a strong believer in the concept that “things are going to happen if I want them to happen.”

She also spoke about some of her goals, such as appearing on Oprah’s television show and getting an official indication on driver’s licenses of people with special needs, both of which came true as a result of her own dedication.

These four women were brought in based on their experiences and backgrounds, and because the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs felt they represented all types of students.

“We wanted to bring a lot of women in leadership to speak to how they got to where they are,” said Yolanda Avent, the director of the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs. “We wanted open dialogues of intersexuality, gender roles, leadership and women’s space in a patriarchal society.”

Staff Writer, Sophia Belletti

11802522_10207448112303567_588286187022952754_oSophia is a sophomore print/online journalism major with a minor in gender, sexuality and women’s studies. She enjoys writing about current events and sports and hopes to one day be a sports reporter, covering soccer, basketball and baseball. You can usually find Sophia drinking way too much coffee and laughing at her own jokes. // Facebook | Twitter | LinkedIn

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