“Why wait until after college? Why not now?” These are the central questions to the program Own It, a summit that seeks to bring together and empower the next generation of women leaders.
Hosted at Georgetown last year by the Georgetown University Women in Leadership organization, the Own It summit had several notable women in attendance: Maria Shriver, special anchor with NBC News and creator of the Shriver Report; Ambassador Melanne Verveer, the first U.S. ambassador for women’s global issues; and Dee Dee Myers, managing director at The Glover Park Group who worked on Bill Clinton’s presidential campaign, among others.
In early spring last year, the Undergraduate Government of Boston College (UGBC) held a similar event—the Boston College Women’s Summit. Organized by the UGBC Division of Student Initiatives, this event provided an opportunity for female students to network and discuss professional development.
This summit, with four panelists and a main event host, allowed many alumnae to return to BC and tell the story of their own professional development.
Jessica Ann Morris, BC ’97, who is a strategic communications expert, and Jocelyn Walters, BC ’01, who is the director of law programs at the Fullbridge Program, both came to the summit and spoke about their experiences.
As reported in The Heights last spring, Sloan Renfro, A&S ’16 and the director of women’s issues and empowerment in student initiatives, said that many wished to make this summit an annual event.
This wish may be coming true: on March 14, 2015, BC is bringing the women’s summit Own It to the Heights. The event is co-chaired by two BC students who are in the Women in Business Club—Alexis Teixeira, secretary and CSOM ’17, and Diana Angelini, co-president and CSOM ’15. Caela McCann, A&S ’15, has also been instrumental in bringing this summit to BC and currently serves as the other co-president of Women in Business.
Women in Business has historically focused on professional preparation. The club regularly designs recruiting events and networking opportunities for its members.
Recently, however, there has been a desire for a space to have deeper conversations about intellectual, personal, and professional development—a change that is evident in the club’s mission statement: “Boston College Women in Business is an organization, network, and community of undergraduate female students dedicated to their empowerment and education. WIB is committed to the growth and expansion of professional and personal opportunities for its members, with a focus on business, leadership, and female empowerment and innovation.”
The idea to bring Own It to BC was brought up early in the year, amid the shifting toward a focus on personal development, and it had a positive reaction among members of the club.
With the other student groups that will be contributing to the organization and implementation of this summit, WIB hopes that in this summit there will be a concentration on empowerment and motivation.
This year’s summit will shift from last year’s Women’s Summit, which had primarily focused on professional development, toward education and working toward cementing the best version of oneself—a process which Teixeira and McCann believe spills over into and influences professional development.
This event, the co-chairs hope, will also focus on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education, entrepreneurship, and politics.
Business, however, will not be the center of this event—instead, the event will center on the speakers, who will share their stories and the process through which they came into themselves.
The co-chairs have a list of tentative speakers they would like to invite to come to the event.
It includes women who have taught at or have graduated from BC, worked in politics, given TED Talks or other major lectures, or created their own company or non-profit organization.
McCann and Teixeira hope to include BC alumnae in this event, but also seek to expand the circle to women who are not necessarily connected to BC but who have valuable insight and guidance to give to BC students.
This summit will also include men: male students will be invited to attend, and the organizers hope a few male speakers will be present as well.
McCann hopes that students who attend will “think in a reflective and broader way about being the best version of themselves in the long term.”
McCann and Teixeira also hope that the students who attend will have made a connection with a speaker, as well as thought about their own callings and opinions. They want this summit to spark lasting discussions and encourage reflection.
This summit will come to BC under the collaboration of 20 student organizations.
These groups include the Science Club for Girls; the Accounting Academy; the Consulting Club of Boston College; the Winston Center; Lean In; I Am That Girl; Boston College Entrepreneurial Society; the Asian Caucus; Computer Science Society; Boston College Leaders for Others; UGBC; Campus Activity Board (CAB); Council for Women; and Women in Business, among others.
“We are really excited to be in the beginning stages of development, as the event is only in its second year,” Teixeira said. “I can’t imagine what it will look like in five years.”
Featured Image by Olivia Hewitt / The Hoya