Program to build female students’ leadership skills

by Life Editor Melissa Parker

The Alabama Association of University Women, the UNA College of Arts and Sciences and the Center for Women’s Studies are partnering to bring an event focused on female leadership skills to campus.

UNA is hosting the AAUW State Convention April 9 and 10 in the Guillot University Center. The weekend kicks off April 8 with a free event, the Alabama Women Student Leaders Conference (ALA-WSL). Doors open at 8 a.m., and the event ends at 6 p.m.

Speakers will lead workshops on topics such as resume writing, feminism, body language, activism and leadership skills, said Coordinator for the Center for Women’s Studies Emily Kelley.

Attendees can register at the door, but a light breakfast and lunch are included for those who register by March 31.

The AAUW, the College of Arts and Sciences and the Center for Women’s Studies are partnering to bring the event.

The College of Arts and Sciences is helping fund the program through private donations and a conference and special projects budget, said Dean Carmen Burkhalter, a member of AAUW.

“What we’re hoping to be able to accomplish in sponsoring this program on that Friday is for female students to participate in a program that will strengthen their leadership capabilities,” Burkhalter said. “I think it’s an important enough program that we needed to be involved here at UNA and in the College of Arts and Sciences.”

Kelley, also a member of AAUW and a campus liaison, said the event begins in the GUC Performance Center with the workshop “Stories and Teasers — Selling Your Skills in a Tight Market.”

Carolyn Lord, programs co-chair for the AAUW Huntsville branch, will teach attendees how to use their own stories to craft an effective resume.

“They will discuss how to link resume highlights to memorable interviews,” Kelley said.

Speakers from UNA include Director of the Center for Women’s Studies Lynne Rieff, Title IX Coordinator Tammy Jacques and Speech Communication Instructor Stephanie Montgomery.

Rieff, a member of AAUW and a campus liaison, said she will discuss how young women today can connect to the feminists from the suffrage era and the 1960s and 1970s.

“The point is to remind ourselves historically, ‘What did these women accomplish, and what goals did these women set in their lifetime?” she said. “What goals did they succeed in meeting, and which of their goals are still left for us in the 21st century, particularly students who are in college?”

Freshman Maggie Hiser is on the conference planning committee.

“It’s just something I wanted to be a part of,” Hiser said. “It’s really important topics that they’re going to cover. They are things that apply, not only to women, but these are things men need to know too, and I think that it’s something all students should be aware of because it’s something that’s affecting everyone in our community.”

The lunch speaker, Suzanne Martin, will lead a workshop called “Our Story —Adding Your Voice.”

“She is one of the best, most invigorating speakers I have ever encountered,” Kelley said. “She’s going to be talking about how to integrate all of our voices into our story. She’s all about creating change.”

The event ends with keynote speaker Elizabeth Hendrix who is the AAUW delegate to the United Nations.

The title of Hendrix’s workshop is “The Journey for Gender Justice.”

Kelley said she urges students to attend any workshops they can.

“Come one, come all,” Burkhalter said. “I would like lots of students to sign up. This is a unique opportunity for our campus, and we want to show the rest of the state that we have a passion for this topic. One of the reasons that I made the financial commitment from the college was so we could show that we are committed to helping shape the next generation of leaders in this state, region and in our country.”