A Capitol Gathering of College Women Student Leaders
By Ruby de la Pena
The National Conference for College Women Student Leaders (NCCWSL) held their annual conference June 5–7, 2014 at the University of Maryland, College Park. After submitting an application, I received a scholarship from the American Association of University Women (AAUW), San Jose (CA) Branch which covered my convention cost to attend. I was honored to receive this scholarship and represent Athens State University. Over 900 participants came from forty-eight different states and three different nations.
The conference started with a pre-conference activity. I chose to attend “So You Want to Work in Politics.” Our group had a personal tour from former congresswoman Beverly Byron. Since Congress was not in session, Ms. Byron led us into the large empty room of the House of Representatives. It was interesting to find out the room’s history and to later see the original room Congress debated in. After our tour, we attended a panel discussion of women who currently work on Capitol Hill. This discussion gave us some insight on what it is like to work on the Hill. Among others things, they informed us of the long hours and discussed the different kinds of internships that are offered. After this discussion, students who were interested in working on the Hill had a better idea of whether or not they still wanted to go for it or stop altogether.
During the conference, we were inspired by amazing speakers like Chelsea Clinton, who discussed the true meaning of leadership and why it is important to lead and give back in our communities. Among other speakers, we also heard from Judy Smith, the co-executive producer of the ABC series Scandal. Ms. Smith shared her inspiring story of how she started her career as a professional crises “fixer” during the presidency of George H.W. Bush.
During the workshop sessions, I attended one called Lean in to the Classroom: Exploring Leadership in a Traditionally Female Field. This workshop offered advice on how to lead within school systems and maximize teacher networks by attending professional development workshops. After attending this workshop, I was thrilled to know that my leadership experience at Athens State University will help me understand my strengths and weaknesses as a leader. This will help me when obtaining a leadership position in my future school.
I learned a lot from this conference, met new friends, and enjoyed my time in Washington DC. This was an incredible opportunity for student leaders and I am glad I was part of this event. I would not have had this opportunity had it not been for the scholarship from AAUW and the support of the College of Education here at Athens State University.