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Building Future Women Leaders

by Cindy Pena

Elect Her held a training session on campus on Feb. 24, to encourage the women of Central Connecticut State University to run for leadership positions both on and off campus.

Elect Her is a national program that helps build skills through a four-hour session that teaches the importance of networking, creating an elevator speech and building confidence. With the help of the Ruthe Boyea Women Center, CCSU was selected to host the event by the American Association of University Women and Running Start last Friday.

This year’s turnout was a success according to Jacqueline Cobbina-Boivin, director of the Women’s Center.

“Turnout was very good because of the number of students that showed up and the diversity, not just with majors and class standing, but also with race and interest of each young woman,” said Cobbina-Boivin. “So, from what we get from the national Washington D.C. office, it appears that they are pleased with us.”

“The outcome is apparent in this room with all these women who are speaking to each other, trading contacts and making new friends,” said Lauren Foligno, intern and program adviser at Student Activities and Leadership Department.

Kate Farrar, the facilitator of the event, accentuated that the goal was to inspire and motivate more collegiate women to see themselves as leaders and to learn more about being a political leader. She said that, with the success of the event, they achieved their goal.

“We had incredible women in the room who were open to learning from one another and learning that they can make a difference by being involved,” said Farrar, executive director of the Connecticut Women’s Education and Legal Fund.  “When you look at the things at the end of the conference, what the women really did learn, they did not only learn about themselves and their strengths, but how in campus they can make a difference.”

New Britain Mayor Erin Stewart made an appearance that inspired many students. Radeana Hastings, an international studies student participating in Elect Her, was one of them.

“I knew nothing about the mayor, but when I came in here and heard her speak, I felt more confident and felt like just because I don’t know someone who has a political stance like her, I don’t have to do things alone. I can always get help,” said Hastings.

One of the many hands-on activities they participated in was creating an outline for an elevator speech. An elevator speech is a clear and brief introduction about yourself. Afterwards, they shared their speeches with other participants and received feedback on how to improve it. Hastings said that these activities were helpful.

“The group dynamics stuff where it was like sharing our ideas was good because even though we are just writing something down I didn’t think we were going to share it. Sharing it also made me able to hear what other people are thinking,” said Hastings.

According to the Center for American Women and Politics, nationally women make up 19.4 percent of the 535 seats in Congress and 21 percent of the 100 seats in the Senate. In Connecticut, the number rises to 27.3 percent of women making up the state legislature.

Elect Her hopes to change these statistics.

“By making young women aware that they have what it takes to be a politician, they can start running for student government, they can also start by being elected officials at their clubs and organizations,” said Cobbina-Boivin. “But not just stop there, to go on to the next level to be on the school board, be elected to the local government. They have a voice and their voices should be heard.”