A Place to Conquer Fears and Learn New ThingsMay 11, 2011
Danielle Kimmel was afraid of driving alone on a major highway, but in June 2010 she took a solo trip from Collegeville, Pennsylvania, to College Park, Maryland, and conquered her fear. That would be just the first part of a “life-changing experience” for the Ursinus College senior at AAUW and NASPA’s National Conference for College Women Student Leaders.
Driving there wasn’t the only part Kimmel was worried about, however. “I was so nervous to go by myself because I was afraid that I wasn’t going to make any friends,” she says. “However, I remained as friendly and open-minded as I could, and it was the best thing that I could have done!” A year later, Kimmel still keeps in touch with the friends she made at NCCWSL.
Another lasting effect of the NCCWSL experience was the information Kimmel brought back to her campus after the conference. She incorporated what she learned from the Sexual Risk Taking among College Women Students workshop into her school’s resident adviser training. In the workshop, participants discussed the myths about alcohol serving sizes and the potential risks of nonconsensual sexual activity when alcohol is involved. Kimmel says, “We learned this through a very eye-opening demonstration of a ‘typical party interaction,’ where a [student] fills up a drink [of water] with the amount of alcohol a ‘typical guy at a party’ would put in. Then, we used a shot glass to determine how many servings were actually contained in the drink.” A 2005 study confirms that college students tend to overestimate volumes, over-pour drinks, and underreport levels of alcohol consumption.
Kimmel believes that this kind of demonstration can lower the number of sexual assaults on a campus. “It was overwhelming to see that every single one of us in the session had known a person who had engaged in sexual activity while they were drunk that they did not feel was consensual or later regretted when they were sober. … I think just having this knowledge and awareness about drinking is absolutely essential for first-year students.”
“NCCWSL really did change me,” Kimmel says. “It was an important stepping stone for me in my personal growth before my senior year.”
The workshop that Kimmel describes is just one example of the more than 50 sessions that students can attend at NCCWSL. If you or a student in your community are looking for an eye-opening experience like Kimmel’s, be sure to register for NCCWSL by May 18!
This post was written by AAUW Leadership Programs Intern Jessica Kelly.