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Learning the Leadership Ropes

Women Students Attend Prominent Conference, Plan Their Own

Students who attend women's leadership conference
Student women leaders recently attended the  National Conference for College Women Student Leaders in Washington, DC.

By Julia Gavin

Twelve women student leaders from UMass Lowell recently attended the National Conference for College Women Student Leaders (NCCWSL), an annual conference held by the Association of American University Women (AAUW) to learn new ways to expand their leadership roles on campus. Connie Cabello, assistant director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs, accompanied the students on the trip to Washington, D.C., which was sponsored by the Dean of Students' Office.

"NCCWSL was an amazing opportunity for our students to make connections with other student leaders, network with professionals and overall explore their leadership abilities," says Cabello. "In addition to educational sessions highlighting topics such as leadership, civic engagement and professional development, the conference offered opportunities for our students to explore D.C. through community service and social opportunities. It was exciting to see a group of diverse women from UMass Lowell come together and represent the University with pride and integrity."

The participating young women study different topics and have varying roles at the University, but share an interest in growing as professionals and leaders. Cabello says that the group discussed the sessions over meals and began planning how to implement new strategies on campus even before coming home.

"I hope to bring more awareness to women's issues on campus and get more women involved in leadership roles," says Chantelle Polanco, a senior psychology student and late-night program coordinator for the Fox Common, who has been involved with student activities since her freshman year.

Once the fall semester starts, the students will join the Dean of Students’ Women’s Leadership Committee to offer campus events including speakers and conversation dinners. The group will also host a regional Women Student Leaders  Conference in the spring of 2013.

"As a group, we hope to implement programs and opportunities to empower women on campus and in the community,” says Cabello.

"I learned how to improve my leadership skills and to how to write an effective résumé," says Dolgormaa Munkhjargal, a sophomore biology major and Navitas student ambassador. "Also, I learned a lot from successful women about how they succeed in life. Organizing a conference at UMass Lowell is a great way to tell women students more about similar opportunities that many of us may not know about yet."

The other student leaders who attended the conference are Cassandra Abou-Farah, Joanne Alexandre, Evana Gizzi, Kerry Hanafin, Sofia Lackiram, Elena Lafortuen, Patricia Luki, LeAnne Piepiora, Ashwitha Rajagdpal and Devina Josephine Thiona.

Roles of Student Leaders on Campus

Cabello, who works with dozens of student leaders through the Office of Multicultural Affairs' programming, has seen first-hand how vital strong leaders are to a successful student body. She says that student leaders contribute daily to the University by:
  • Helping to create programs and events that enhance student life; 
  • Creating and sustaining student groups that foster inclusion and connection;
  • Mentoring and motivating their peers;
  • Representing the University with integrity and professionalism locally, regionally and even globally;
  • Partnering with faculty and staff in creating positive change.