Oct 2013 AAUW President’s Letter from Beth Nienow

Last June our branch sponsored 2 University of Minnesota Rochester students, Alex Spindler and Nicole Postl, to attend the National Conference for College Women Student Leaders (NCCWSL) in the Washington DC area.  Each student was selected to receive $500 from AAUW Minnesota for registration, room and board, and an additional $200 each from the Rochester branch to apply toward travel expenses.  Both students sent me written accounts and some photographs from the conference.  They were very grateful to AAUW and especially our branch for the opportunity to attend what for both of them was a potentially life-changing event.  Their accounts  will appear in the next AAUW Minnesota Pine newsletter along with those of the other Minnesota students who attended the conference, and we will make them available on our branch website, but I found  the stories so heartwarming that I wanted to include excerpts from them here.

From Nicole Postl:

We arrived at the University of Maryland on one of the hottest days of the year.  The opening reception, a panel discussion of various women sharing their opinions on a variety of topics such as gun control and feminism, was held in two large conference rooms filled with 700 women from all over the United States.  That night six women were recognized at the Women of Distinction ceremony of 2013.  I was completely engaged in each woman’s personal story as she shared about her struggles, triumphs, and successes.  The next morning we heard Rachel Simmons, the keynote speaker of the day, a best-selling author and a co-founder of the Girls Leadership Institute.  Later that afternoon, everyone had a chance to attend a graduate school fair.  Each attendee also had the opportunity to attend four breakout sessions on different topics.  My two favorite sessions were on the Peace Corps and how to be a woman leader in my community.  The following day the conference concluded with a keynote speaker, Nina Godiwalla, a networking activity, and a photo shoot.  In the short time that I was at NCCWSL, I learned so much about being a woman leader.  It was a once in a lifetime experience that I will never forget!

From Alex:

This summer, I had the incredible opportunity to attend the 2013 National Conference for College Women Student Leaders (NCCWSL) at the University of Maryland–College Park in Washington, DC.  At this conference I gained valuable lessons and was inspired by countless women who have accomplished amazing things to advance equity for all.  I had the privilege to hear speeches by Donna Shalala, the former Secretary of Health and Human Services, and Reshma Saujani, the founder of Girls Who Code, among the six Women of Distinction honored on the first night of the conference.  One of my favorite sessions at the conference was the keynote speech of Rachel Simmons, who talked of finding your inner voice, and how the “inner resume” is much more important than that on paper.  She spoke of the predisposed attitudes of women within our society and challenged us to take risks and do things we really care about – not because we are supposed to, but rather because we want to and are passionate about them.  Later, we were able to choose from a large selection of seminars and workshops on leadership development, stress management, and issues pertaining to women and women’s rights.  The conference also provided a great opportunity to meet some fantastic individuals as well as to explore Washington DC for a couple of days following.  We were able to walk the National Mall, visit the Holocaust Museum and Arlington Cemetery, see the Declaration of Independence and even catch a glimpse of President Obama at the Ford Theatre’s annual gala.  After attending NCCWSL, I am confident that women will be prominently involved in our nation’s advancement.  It was truly an honor to represent the University of Minnesota-Rochester at this conference; it has been one of the most valuable experiences of my life.

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