Campus Leaders Share 5 Lessons on Confidence, Activism, and Allyship

July 14, 2017

2016-2017 AAUW National Student Advisory Committee members pose in their school colors during their fall retreat in Washington, DC.

In October 2016, 10 campus leaders began a leadership journey that led them to plan and execute campus activism projects, collaborate with the AAUW national office on issues that matter to college women, and serve as peer leaders at the National Conference of College Women Student Leaders (NCCWSL). As their responsibilities with AAUW come to a close, they reflect on their top five takeaways from their experience on the National Student Advisory Council (SAC).

1. You can learn valuable leadership skills from your peers.

sac member

2016–17 SAC member Linh Anh Cat

“As women we are often unrealistically pressured to be good at everything. Being on the SAC helped me appreciate my strengths and made me realize I could accomplish anything with a group where my weaknesses are someone else’s strengths.”

— Linh Anh Cat
University of California, Irvine

SAC member

2016–17 SAC member Julia Alford

“The biggest lesson I’m taking away from my experience on the SAC is that everyone has a different definition of leadership and not one leadership style is better than another. On the SAC, we all came from different backgrounds and it was important that we had to learn everyone’s leadership style. No two are ever the same.”

— Julia Alford
University at Albany, SUNY

2. Building lasting and meaningful friendships is a skill.

SAC member Sanah Jivani

2016–17 SAC member Sanah Jivani

“[My favorite thing about being on the SAC was] working with and bonding with the other women on the board. I’ve met some of the best friends I could ever ask for.”

— Sanah Jivani
University of Texas, San Antonio

SAC member

2016–17 SAC member Brooke Lopez

“It was truly inspiring to work with women from across the country who want to bring about change as fervently as you do.”

— Brooke Lopez
University of Texas, Dallas

3. Opening your mind is the first step to making a change.

2016–17 AAUW Student Advisory Council member

2016–17 SAC member Sabrina Ridenour

“I can’t  put into words how much I have learned about the problems women face outside of my own identities. After being a part of SAC, I’ve been enlightened on new issues I never knew existed.  Because of that, I can be more aware and a better activist for all women.”

— Sabrina Ridenour
West Virginia University

SAC member

2016–17 SAC member Dania Baraka

“I knew quite a bit about numerous [policy] issues prior to [joining the SAC], but I learned a lot of hard facts and how to better get my point across in a debate or conversation.”

— Dania Baraka
Wayne State University

4. One voice can make a difference.

SAC member

2016–17 SAC member Sarah Best

“I became a better activist because I was energized by the other SAC members. Activism can be exhausting, and it is so easy to burn out or feel like your ideas aren’t making a difference. The SAC made me more confident to really take an activist role online, on campus, and in the public. I learned never to doubt my voice, to be more confident in my organizing, and to constantly learn to be a better ally.”

— Sarah Best
University of Pittsburgh

SAC member

2016–17 SAC member Aku Acquaye

“I always try to fill out every AAUW Two-Minute Activist form. It inspires me to forward it to other friends and to host more tabling sessions on public policy issues that AAUW is tracking.”

— Aku Acquaye
Barnard College of Columbia University

5. By working to empower others, you also empower yourself.

SAC member

2016–17 SAC member Sapphire Andersen

“I learned more about AAUW research. As someone who is a very fact-based thinker, I love having strong arguments, research, numbers, and expert opinions to back me up.”

— Sapphire Andersen, president-elect of the AAUW Omaha (NE) Branch
University of Nebraska, Omaha

2016–17 AAUW Student Advisory Council member

2016–17 SAC member Saleha Azmi

“With the support of brilliant staff at AAUW national I managed to empower students on my campus with tons of information.”

— Saleha Azmi
Bowling Green State University

This blog was written by AAUW Campus Initiatives and Leadership Programs Intern Theresa Hice Johnson.


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2016-2017 AAUW National Student Advisory Committee members visit the United States Capitol during their fall retreat in Washington, DC.

AAUW National Student Advisory Council

From October through June, AAUW’s SAC is a dynamic team of feminists helping AAUW grow and connect with our student community.

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AAUW Intern By:   |   July 14, 2017

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