So Much Tennessee, So Little TimeApril 03, 2009
I traveled to the AAUW of Tennessee State Convention this past weekend at the University of Tennessee, Martin. I was invited is because at UT, Martin, there is an active AAUW student affiliate group, and AAUW of Tennessee has started to support offer students scholarships to attend the National Conference for College Women Student Leaders (NCCWSL). So I was thrilled to get to meet these students and to learn more about all of the great work that AAUW of Tennessee is up to. The trip was such a treat due to the hospitality of Tennesseans; what would a trip be without good BBQ pork! I also got a tour of history and scenery through Paris, Tennessee and the Land Between the Lakes.
On Friday night, I was able to visit with the AAUW student affiliate group and learn more about them and why they are involved in AAUW. The group has gained 30 new members this year, including several male members. In our time together, the young members and I got to know each other and talked about what they see as current barriers for women and girls today. They brought up the pay gap, the challenges for working mothers, barriers to birth control access, and the double standard that women face. They shared that they really enjoy being able to make a difference on campus and feel very welcome in the group. I was able to tell them about the AAUW resources that they should certainly take advantage of!
The Saturday portion of the state convention involved several speakers, including for two of the three Tennessee students who attended NCCWSL in 2008. Monique Denney and Katie Beth Price echoed my own comments to the group that NCCWSL is a life-changing experience. Monique explained that for her as a mother (of five!) and wife, going to NCCWSL to meet and interact with so many women across the country inspired her and made it possible for her to gain the skills to run events on her campus. Monique is pre-med and looking to take her GMAT soon.
Katie graduated last May and found amazing personal growth from taking this first trip by herself to Washington, D.C. Her fondest memories were of how much she learned about networking and negotiating salaries, and of taking part in community service. She is currently in graduate school and used her spring break to come back to Martin for this event. This year, Tennessee is supporting four conference attendees, which is a testament to the experiences that Monique, Katie, and Ashlyn (not present) gained.
The AAUW of Tennessee branches shared some of their current plans, including Equal Pay Day activities, their Shades workshop for girls in STEM, Sister to Sister, and other mentoring and scholarship projects. I presented during Saturday’s lunch to the full group about “Leadership Development and Community Action,” sharing the latest facts on women’s leadership and the specific programs that AAUW offers to empower college women leaders. (So many: CAP, SAC, Campaign College, LAF Campus Outreach, and WAGE!)
Thank you to Sue Byrd, Monika Bowman, Leslea Robertson, Earlene Moore, and Cherry Watts! I look forward to having the Tennessee students at NCCWSL and to building more leadership development opportunities for students in the state!