Next Year, This Could Be You: My Journey on the Student Advisory Council
I first heard about AAUW three years ago. As a college classmate told me about the organization, I felt like I was listening to an infomercial. She told me about the support she received and the leadership skills she gained through AAUW. She convinced me that the organization was worth joining, so I did what most people would do and signed up as a member. Little did I know that joining AAUW would be a catalyst for so many transformational experiences, from leading programs that empower women to interviewing Chelsea Clinton in front of a crowd of nearly 1,000.
A Lifelong Community
A year and half later, I successfully applied to be a member of AAUW’s National Student Advisory Council (SAC). Months later, that decision brought me to Washington, D.C., to join other amazing women at the SAC kickoff leadership retreat.
I remember being in awe when I arrived at the front steps of the AAUW building. Ivonne Ramirez greeted me, introduced me to other AAUW staff members, and made me feel at home. The nine council members spent a lot of time together — both during training and in our free time. We learned about our individual strengths and the strengths of our team, the SAC.
The more we learned together and about one another, the more we bonded. Not only were we learning about our strengths and potential, but we also were simultaneously building learning communities and friendships within the SAC.
I didn’t feel alone once I returned to campus from the retreat. Because of that weekend in D.C., I knew that I was part of a lifelong community of friends and mentors. I had gained support and invaluable tools that would help me as a leader in my community. We supported each other through monthly Google Hangout sessions, e-mails, and phone calls.
Beyond the SAC, I made connections with local AAUW branches and other members. Members were helpful and answered questions I had about the various ways I could get involved.
A Chance to Empower Women
As a member of the SAC, I had the privilege of participating in several projects and events that were centered on the advancement of women. I helped create a more inclusive call for proposals for the Oregon Women in Higher Education Conference and helped with the program and panel selection. In addition, I partnered with Mardy Stevens from AAUW of Oregon to help with tabling and to promote AAUW at the conference.
I also participated in the AAUW Astoria and Seaside (OR) Branches’ WINGS (Women Interested in Going to School) Conference, held at Clatsop Community College. The conference provides women support to transition into higher education through community college and then a four-year institution (if desired). I co-facilitated two scholarship workshops, helped with workshops designed to demystify the college application process, and provided academic success tips. I also had the opportunity to give a closing keynote speech for the conference.
Meeting Role Models
Later in the spring, I emceed at the AAUW of Oregon and AAUW of Washington joint state convention and participated in a panel on college and university relations. I met and introduced one of the convention guests, Eva Abram. She appeared in character as Nettie Asberry, one of the first African American women to receive a doctoral degree in the United States. And of course, I can’t forget how inspiring it was to listen to Lilly Ledbetter at the conference and sit next to her during dinner.
The National Conference for College Women Student Leaders in June was a perfect way to close our term on the council. Along with reviewing workshop proposals, the SAC helped with workshops and preconference events. We connected with so many women around the world, met the Women of Distinction, and re-connected with each other in person.
Perhaps best of all, I had the opportunity to moderate a conversation with Chelsea Clinton at NCCWSL. Introducing and interviewing her was a life-changing and humbling experience. Every single question and response resonated with me since I carefully thought about and developed all of my interview questions.
I never imagined that I would have all these experiences. AAUW changed my life, and I am looking forward to continuing to be a part of AAUW, nationally and locally, as I move to Seattle to continue my studies in the multicultural education doctoral program at the University of Washington.
Remember, you will never know what is possible unless you try. You are a unique, talented, gifted leader and a role model for someone else. Go for it!
Build your résumé by joining the AAUW National Student Advisory Council, running for office, or leading a project to fight gender stereotypes. Apply now.
The members of the SAC serve as AAUW ambassadors, advise AAUW staff on the needs of college students, and lead gender equality projects on their campuses.
Meet the 2013-14 SAC. These college women have faced adversity, provided their voices to the United Nations, empowered immigrant women, questioned their universities’ sexual violence policies, and shattered stereotypes about women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields.