The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

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Female empowerment on campus

St. John’s University held its second Women in
Leadership Conference, encouraging women to take
higher levels of leadership on campus. The event, part of
Women’s History Month, was sponsored by Student Affairs
and took place Saturday, March 20 in the D’Angelo
Center.

The Women in Leadership Certifi cate Program was
developed in 2006 to encourage female St. John’s University
students and alumni to make a strong impact
through leadership. The program’s main goals are to
help women understand the importance of leading, skillbuilding
in projects and improving female empowerment.

The conference began last year to teach students how
to improve their local and global communities.

“The purpose of the St. John’s University’s Women
in Leadership Conference is to inspire leaders to become
more consciously aware of their potential in taking the
lead in their community, organization, and in their personal
and professional lives,” said Natalie Maio, the associate
director of Leadership Development.

Students were excited with the numerous activities
planned for the entire day. Maio said that they were most
excited in the wide range of topics the conference addressed,
including how to fi nd successful careers and
overcoming the fear of failure.

Students were able to choose which workshops
to attend depending on their personal and
professional needs.

Student Affairs invited Paul Wesselmann discussed
the importance of leadership as the keynote speaker of
the day. Wesselmann graduated from McKendree College
and completed his master’s at Bowling Green State
University in Psychology. Since moving to Wisconsin,
Wesselmann has volunteered with Madison’s AIDS Network,
providing emotional support to those combating
HIV and AIDS.

Since 1990, Wesselmann has devoted his time to
organizing workshops and training individuals into
leadership positions. As of 1999, he created the Ripples
Project. What began as a Monday morning e-mail to all
of his friends to encourage them throughout the week,
turned into an enormous effect where thousands became
involved in his mission by sharing inspirational quotes
through a newsletter to encourage each other.

“Paul Wesselmann was wonderful. He spoke to us
about seeking comfort and seeking challenge, and that
a balance between these is necessary for learning,” said
freshman Alyssa-Rae Hug, who is also a member of the
Women in Leadership program.

“During the conference, we discussed applications of
leadership skills even in other ways such as with sports
and religion. General leadership qualities for every facet
of life were the focus of the event.”

Hug spoke about what she liked best about Wesselmann’s
speech.
“He shared personal stories, some incredibly moving,
and showed us the strength of the human spirit to
overcome hardship in life,” she said.

“He is an example of how one can overcome this
hardship, then turn the energy usually put into being
hurt into positive energy which can be used to be a great
leader and help others.”

Other speakers included professors Joan Ball from
the Tobin College of Business, Ruth DeRosa from Student
Affairs, Angela Seegal from Campus Ministry, and
Michele Canning and Courtney Curby from the Athletic
Department who highlighted the women’s soccer team
and shared thoughts on their high achievements in the
2009 season.

Freshman Rob Kerns was one of the few males at
the conference. However, he still felt he gained from the
experience.

“The universal themes of leadership and goal-reaching
stretched past gender lines and made the conference
relatable to men too,” said Kerns.

According to Maio, numerous students felt empowered
after the conference and wanted to share their new
knowledge with their peers. Many students commented
that the conference far surpassed their expectations. They
were encouraged, like Hug, by Wesselmann’s powerful
message about personal and professional growth.

“After a tremendous amount of positive feedback
from St. John’s students, faculty members, administrators
and staff, as well as alumni, the Department of Student
Life has decided to make this conference an annual
event to serve the University community members,”
said Maio.

Being a woman in a leadership position can be stressful,
yet Hug said she hopes more women will be inspired
to impact the world in signifi cant ways.
“Leadership is multi-faceted. There are a lot of different
methods, styles, and ways to approach it within
oneself and towards others. As women, we have such
wonderful potential to approach both which is a special
character unique to us,” she said.

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