Taking NCCWSL HomeMay 27, 2013
Since 2001, the University of Wyoming has sent students to the National Conference for College Women Student Leaders for the transformative experience. Now, the students return back to campus and put on their own leadership conference similar to NCCWSL. We were able to interview Dolores Saucedo Cardona, the associate dean of students, to learn how she and her students are paying it forward after NCCWSL.
How many students does the University of Wyoming send to NCCWSL?
The University of Wyoming first sent one delegate to NCCWSL in 2001 and 2002, and our delegation has grown over the years to where we now sent 8–12 students dependent on our fundraising efforts locally.
What is the biggest benefit that NCCWSL provides for UW student attendees?
Coming from a rurally isolated state, our students have the opportunity to interact with other college leaders, see national role models, and gain ideas to bring back to the University of Wyoming so they can host a Women’s Leadership Conference for UW women students. It definitely broadens their exposure to women’s issues.
How did you come up with the idea of putting on a conference back on campus?
Originally, the goal was to have the women come back and do a specific project to benefit women on campus. Some early examples were sexual assault prevention activities in the halls and a campus lighting project, which now has occurs annually. The conference idea was brought back by two women who went to NCCWSL back in 2003. They came back with the desire to host something similar for UW women. They met with our vice president for student affairs at the time, Leellen Brigman, to host a conference for first-year women on campus that has grown into an open UW Women’s Leadership Conference offered annually. It was a clear student-initiated leadership outcome after NCCWSL.
Are there elements from NCCWSL that your students replicate at the UW conference?
For several years now, the students have brought back the idea of the Women of Distinction Awards ceremony, and that has become a prime part of the conference. Sometimes they will honor community women, other times women in the state. And last year they honored women faculty. Nevertheless, they find inspirational women who leave our UW students fired up, just as the conference planners were inspired at the Women of Distinction Awards ceremony at NCCWSL. They also have gained speaker ideas and workshop ideas dependent on the theme of NCCWSL. Last year, they showed a film they saw at NCCWSL on campus as well.
How does this project further empower the student leaders who come to NCCWSL?
Our Women’s Leadership Conference provides an opportunity for the women to go experience and gain skills at NCCWSL. The following conference planning work upon their return to campus then allows them to apply the skills they learned and gain new skills in planning, leadership, and organization. Many of them do not have experience planning a conference and are happy with the results when they see a successful conference.
At times, some of our women leaders are eventually nominated for the top outstanding female graduate at UW. That was case this last spring of 2013. Further, the women tend to become engaged with other women’s activities and organizations in the community as a result. Some gain a further grasp of feminism as well and learn how women work to address issues locally, in the state, and in the nation. This is important since a lot of young women are not aware of or experienced with issues based on gender in many cases.
Finally, I serve as the steering committee chair and was supported over 30 years ago to achieve my graduate education through an AAUW fellowship. This is my way of giving back to AAUW as well as contributing to the women who will follow me.
This post was written by AAUW Campus Leadership Programs Intern Nzinga Shury.