Catching Up with AAUW National Student Advisory Council AlumnaeAugust 31, 2016
Since 2002, dozens of exceptional college students have served on AAUW’s National Student Advisory Council (SAC). We choose 10 student leaders annually to represent AAUW on their campuses, build their feminist networks, develop their leadership skills, and advise AAUW on the needs of their peers.
The SAC shapes students into leaders and has given these alumnae the confidence to change the world.
Joy Marie Agee
Postdoctoral fellow; University of Alabama, Huntsville
Joy Agee is blazing trails with her research on triple negative breast cancer — the most aggressive form of the disease. Agee has discovered two transcription factors important in chemoresistance. She uses lessons from the SAC to advocate for women and girls in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). She said that serving on the SAC helps members “realize [their] inner feminism and why women have to support each other.” The SAC also launched her continued involvement with AAUW as a local branch leader and as a coordinator for the inaugural AAUW Tech Trek at the University of Alabama, Huntsville.
“You will learn principles that you will carry with you throughout your remaining matriculation and your career. The SAC equips you with true leadership skills.”
Doctoral student, Purdue University
Chanel Beebe — researcher, educator, artist, and poet — is preparing for her second year in an engineering education Ph.D. program where she’s developing ways to teach engineering in makerspaces. Beebe is passionate about redefining what it means to be an engineer and said her life work is advocating for women and underserved populations in STEM. Addressing issues head-on is a strategy Beebe learned while serving on the SAC. “The SAC was…the first time I seriously considered that my input might be worth something,” she said. “Every day I learn more about the power of my own voice and the importance of empowering women to speak up when [they] have ideas.”
“AAUW does amazing things for women in this country and to be a part of making history is priceless.”
Assistant dean for student affairs; University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign School of Social Work
Rachael Dietkus is a social worker responsible for recruitment, admissions, student affairs, and academic advising at the School of Social Work at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, where she develops and empowers future social workers. Dietkus credits many of her leadership skills to the SAC and to her experience working with AAUW staff to plan the National Conference for College Women Student Leaders (NCCWSL). She said that the SAC also connected her to a local AAUW branch that has had “a tremendous impact” on her personal and professional growth.
“AAUW is a game-changer…[it] directly impacts the lives of so many. The SAC could be the launching pad to your next great adventure.”
Digital media manager and legislative aide
Working on Capitol Hill has enabled Wilsar Johnson to combine her creativity with her passion for politics. She’s had a variety of roles on the Hill and in Washington D.C., and she says the best part of her current job is getting to be creative every single day. Her trip to NCCWSL while serving on the SAC was the catalyst for her move to D.C., and she describes her NCCWSL experience as “life-changing.” Additionally, the people she met while serving on the SAC are “inspiring, compassionate, and daring.” Wilsar continues to be an advocate for women’s rights and tells students, “Allow your authentic self to shine.”
“AAUW via SAC is one of the reasons I am working on the Hill.”
Master’s degree candidate; SOAS, University of London
As the youngest board director for the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, a Truman-Albright Fellow, and a U.S. youth observer to the U.N., Donya Nasser has quite the accomplishment list. Nasser is a gender equality and human rights advocate who lives for “inspiring and empowering youth and women in their journeys.” Serving on the SAC helped Nasser fine-tune the skills she’s used in her many leadership positions. Her advice to students? “Find your niche and what inspires you to fight for gender quality because it will allow you to be the best advocate that you can be.”
“AAUW helped give me my start in my career, which has allowed me to go to places I never imagined.”
On-call crisis coordinator, Wayne County Safe
Benita Robinson’s passion for eliminating violence against women led her to Wayne County Safe, a non-profit that provides medical forensic care and advocacy for survivors of sexual assault. Just as Robinson helps survivors find their voices in her role as on-call crisis coordinator, the SAC helped her find her own voice as a leader. “The power in the women you work with will invigorate and inspire you,” Robinson said. “It will encourage you, especially on those days when you feel like all the work you are doing is for nothing. It will light a fire under you to reiterate that it is worth it.”
“I will never forget the people I met and their inspiring stories…
I carry them with me in all that I do.”
Founder and CEO, Employee of Choice Academy
The Employee of Choice Academy is a social benefit organization focused on stopping generational poverty and unemployment by educating people on positive workplace interaction skills. As founder and CEO, Tameika Scott’s work gives her the opportunity to “positively influence the lives of the everyday citizen.” She gained the confidence to become an entrepreneur and to start an organization after learning what it truly means to be a leader during her time on the SAC. “The experiences were amazing and literally changed my life for the better,” Scott said.
“SAC taught me what it truly means to be a leader. This is a life-changing experience and will have such a positive impact on how you serve your community and the world.”
This blog post was written by AAUW Campus Leadership Programs intern, Genevieve Lemley.
Theresa Johnson reflects on her experience as a 2015–16 SAC member.
These 10 college students form a unique feminist team that helps AAUW grow and connect with our student community.
Each year, AAUW’s campus leadership programs shape the lives of thousands of college women and inspire them to be leaders.