On April 24, the Womxn’s Leadership Association, in partnership with the Office of Equity and Inclusion, hosted Whittier College’s first-ever womxn’s empowerment conference: FEMPWR.
The WLA is a student organization on campus whose goal is to fight against misogyny and sexism by providing resources, education, and a community for womxn at Whittier College. To them, hosting FEMPWR was another way to expand these opportunities and experiences beyond the College and their organization.
The conference began a little after 12:20 p.m. PST, with opening remarks by WLA President Melina Martinez. She talked about how she came to be a part of WLA and what it means to her. She then introduced the keynote speaker, Whittier College’s President Linda Oubré.
President Oubré spoke of her life and the challenges she has faced throughout her journey to get where she is now, along with the lessons she has learned. She also highlighted 10 points she wanted to make throughout her speech. Some of these points included being yourself, embracing failure and learning from it, taking risks, changing lives, and knowing what you are worth. The keynote speech ended with a Q&A session about President Oubré’s leadership style, what motivates her, balancing work and personal life, and what women empowerment means to her.
After the keynote speech, Melina Martinez introduced the first speaker, who would be presenting the first workshop of the conference — Online Leadership: Branding Yourself to Build Community. The first speaker was none other than WLA’s co-founder, Hannah Martin, who is now an entrepreneur. She is the founder of WOC Space Collective, an organization committed to providing a community to empower women and femmes of color. Hannah Martin began the workshop by discussing her experiences getting to where she is now. She then talked about how branding yourself includes reflecting on who you are, what you do, why you do it, and how you do it. The acronym MOST was also introduced in this workshop; it stands for Mission, Opinions, Story, and Tone. Martin also talked about the three areas that are important to centering community: vision, leadership, and identity.
Following the workshop was a Womxn of Color Panel, which was moderated by the Associate Dean for Student Life, Deanna Merino-Contino. The panelists include Myhraliza Aala, a writer and producer, Sonia Chaidez, an Instructional Media Designer at the College, Frances Romo, the Student and Family Programs Coordinator at Whittier, and Dr. H. Kay Thomas, the Assistant Dean for Student Affairs and Diversity at the University of South Carolina. The panel covered topics such as community, wellness, and facing challenges. The four panelists gave advice to the attendees present about procrastination, making time for yourself, creating a community that makes sense for you, and not being a challenge to yourself.
After the panel, the last workshop for the conference was presented by the Director of Career and Professional Connections at the Career Center, Sandra Arana. The workshop was How to Thrive as Your Most Authentic Self, in which Sandra Arana discussed the importance of being authentic and how to be authentic. She began by sharing data of women in the workforce before defining what it means to thrive as your authentic self. Arana discussed how developing authenticity includes being self-aware, examining your family belief systems, exploring your values, and acknowledging your fears. She then presented eight ways of being true to yourself and how to keep learning and growing. The workshop ended with Arana sharing a resource guide with the attendees. With the end of the last workshop, Melina ended the conference with some closing remarks.
If you were unable to attend the conference this year, then you still have a chance to attend next year. While the conference was held over Zoom due to the pandemic, the WLA hopes to make it into a bigger experience once everyone can be together on campus again. It is their hopes that this conference provided the space to “inspire self-reflection, self-confidence, and a continuation of community. Through sharing these resources we’re demonstrating the importance of bringing each other up and helping one another.”
For more information on upcoming WLA meetings and events, look for them on Engage and follow them on their Instagram, @wc_wla.