Own It Summit, Now in the Fall, Will Host Muslim Female Activist as Keynote Speaker

own it summit

A Muslim activist and digital strategist will come speak on campus on Nov. 12 as the keynote speaker for Boston College’s annual Women’s Summit, a day-long event that brings students together with women leaders. After the BC Women’s Summit: Own It hosted two successful events in the spring of 2015 and 2016, the committee of the summit has moved the event to the fall semester.

The change came after the Women’s Center and the Office of Student Involvement (OSI), which are both sponsors of the event, looked at the academic calendar and their respective schedules, said Adrienne Chiozzi, a member of the Own It committee and head of experiential learning in OSI. It also felt that hosting the summit in the fall would make the event more relevant to seniors and would illustrate the importance of women’s leadership to first- year students, Chiozzi said.

There is more energy on campus in the fall, said Alexis Teixeira, co-chair of the Own It and CSOM ’17.

“People are just more excited and fresh than they are in the spring,” she said.

Moving the event to the fall did present challenges, said Lily Peng, the logistics coordinator of Own It and MCAS ’17. The committee planned the summit over the summer, which was difficult because not many people check their emails. And the committee had to begin planning the summit immediately following the spring summit.

The first summit, in 2015, was run completely by students. For the second summit last April, the event committee partnered with various on-campus groups, which gave it access to more resources, most notably funding. Own It this year will be sponsored by the Cadigan Alumni Association, the Career Center, BC Women in Business, the Division of Student Affairs, the Council for Women of BC, I Am That Girl: BC, Lean In at BC, the Undergraduate Government of BC, the Women’s Center, and OSI.

“We want to make sure that there’s a speaker that every student at BC can relate to. It’s something that we’re looking to do better and better every year.”

— Isabella Valentini, a member of BC Women’s Summit: Own It and MCAS ’17

Now, the Own It Summit is under the University—it gets all of its funding from BC. As a result, the students on the committee have to concede to some of the requests of the faculty advisors and the University, including their wish to move the event to the fall, Peng said.

“But you know, it’s a challenge and every challenge is a learning opportunity,” she said.

After the summit in November, OSI plans on comparing the data from the spring and fall summit to determine which the students felt was a more effective time.

This year, the Own It committee is trying to be more intentional, Isabella Valentini, a member of BC Women’s Summit: Own It and MCAS ’17, said. It is looking more into the backgrounds of the speakers it invites to be a part of the day to make sure that there is variety in their backgrounds and professions.

“We want to make sure that there’s a speaker that every student at BC can relate to,” Valentini said. “It’s something that we’re looking to do better and better every year.”

Tickets went on sale Monday through the Robsham Theater website. So far, over two-thirds of the 300 tickets available to students have been taken. The event is free and open to all BC students.

The keynote speaker will be Riham Osman, a digital media and communications strategist at the Muslim Public Affairs Council in Washington, D.C.

In 2011, Osman experienced employment discrimination because of her hijab. This experience changed her outlook on the world and led her to get involved with activism.

“She’s extremely qualified, she’s brilliant, she’s eloquent,” Valentini said. “And she set out on this campaign to advocate for women who face oppression in many different facets.”

“She’s extremely qualified, she’s brilliant, she’s eloquent. And she set out on this campaign to advocate for women who face oppression in many different facets.”

— Isabella Valentini, a member of BC Women’s Summit: Own It and MCAS ’17

Osman worked with U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to change Air France’s dress code to allow flight attendants to wear hijabs. She has also appeared on ABC7, NPR, and NBC and in The Washington Post and The Huffington Post.

“She’s so young but she’s so driven to pursue justice, especially for women,” Valentini said.

Teixeira also believes that students will be able to relate to Osman.

“That’s what we’re looking for—somebody to set the tone for the day of inspiration,” she said.

Last year’s keynote speaker was Sophia Amoruso, founder and executive chairman of Nasty Gal, a women’s clothing brand. Amoruso also wrote a New York Times bestselling book, #GIRLBOSS, about her path to creating her company.

This year, the keynote speaker will address attendees in St. Ignatius Church. The keynote address was previously held in Robsham Theater, but because of the fall play, the venue was not available in November. The summit committee booked the next largest venue on campus, St. Ignatius.

Own It invites BC professors to speak at the summit, but it also taps into the Boston network. It looks for professors from other universities in Boston to come speak and work with students.

The faculty advisers of the summit also help find speakers for the event by looking at speakers who have come to campus in the past. And the summit uses the BC alumni network to find speakers.

“We’re really lucky to have such a deep pool to reach into,” Valentini said.

The first year, the goal of the planning committee was to establish the summit. Last year, they wanted to make themselves better known on campus. This year, it’s about making minor tweaks so that the summit is more intentional and more accessible.

“It’s not about being bigger,” Teixeira said. “It’s about each person walking away from the summit feeling better about themselves and being inspired and also creating organic connections that will last longer than a day.”

Featured Image by Julia Hopkins / Heights Editor

About Sophie Reardon 102 Articles
Sophie Reardon is the head news editor for The Heights. She is from Alexandria, VA and is majoring in history and communication. Her favorite news source other than The Heights is The Skimm.


  1. You want a true woman Muslim activist? Try Ayaan.

    “Many well-meaning Dutch people have told me in all earnestness that nothing in Islamic culture incites abuse of women, that this is just a terrible misunderstanding. Men all over the world beat their women, I am constantly informed. In reality, these Westerners are the ones who misunderstand Islam. The Quaran mandates these punishments. It gives a legitimate basis for abuse, so that the perpetrators feel no shame and are not hounded by their conscience of their community. I wanted my art exhibit to make it difficult for people to look away from this problem. I wanted secular, non-Muslim people to stop kidding themselves that “Islam is peace and tolerance.”
    ― Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Infidel

  2. Here are words from a true woman Muslim activist.

    “Islam was like a mental cage. At first, when you open the door, the caged bird stays inside: it is frightened. It has internalized its imprisonment. It takes time for bird to escape, even after someone has opened the doors to its cage.”
    ― Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Infidel

  3. This from a female Muslim activist who is forced to live with 24/7 security because she dared to criticize Islam.

    “Wishful thinking about the peaceful tolerance of Islam cannot interpret away this reality: hands are still cut off, women still stoned and enslaved, just as the Prophet Muhammad decided centuries ago.”
    ― Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Infidel

  4. An activist is someone who has the courage to question the norm at their own risk. Ayaan Ali Hirsi is a true female Muslim activist.

    “By declaring our Prophet infallible and not permitting ourselves to question him, we Muslims had set up a static tyranny. The Prophet Muhammad attempted to legislate every aspect of life. By adhering to his rules of what is permitted and what is forbidden, we Muslims supressed the freedom to think for ourselves and to act as we chose. We froze the moral outlook of billions of people into the mind-set of the Arab desert in the seventh century. We were not just servants of Allah, we were slaves.”
    ― Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Infidel

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