International Women’s Day brings students and leaders together

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This year, the Office of Service-Learning decided to take International Women’s Day a few steps beyond celebrating with just a Snapchat filter and a hashtag.

On Tuesday, March 8, Missouri leaders and MU students, or ‘young women’ and ‘younger women’ as Director of Service-Learning Anne Marie Foley called them, gathered in Stotler Lounge to participate in the inaugural Sue Shear Fellows Women’s Leadership Roundtable.

The idea was to engage in a speed dating-esque event. Between bites of sandwiches and chicken tortilla soup, students were able to sit down with these women and discuss everything from life to politics to overcoming the daily adversity they face in a still male-driven society.

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It was an amazing experience for everyone involved— the ‘time’s up!’ bell was met with groans from the ‘young’ and ‘younger’ women alike at the end of every rotation. Although no one was ready to end their conversations so prematurely, with each journey to a new table of new women with new experiences and advice, everyone quickly fell back into place.

The mostly upperclassmen students in attendance shared their hopes and dreams, seeking wisdom on career and life paths, education and internships. They were not disappointed.

Kelly Schultz shared her experiences from working in both the House of Representatives and the Senate and her position now as Director of State of Missouri Office of Child Advocate, all while juggling a family and somehow finding time for herself to exercise regularly.

Cathy Scroggs, MU Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, explained how a career isn’t a paved path so much as one made up of stepping stones. She told the students that sometimes you’re presented with the opportunity to skip two or three stones at a time and that these moments, while terrifying, are the moments that separate the leaders from the herd. After all, as Mizzou Provost Garnett Stokes expressed throughout the evening, “the fear of failure is what holds us back the most.”

The air was thick with good conversation all evening long until half an hour past the scheduled end time of the event, when people finally began to scatter back to their corners of the world.

To put it in the words of Dr. Martha Quentin, Education Coordinator at the Refugee and Immigration Services, the Women’s Leadership Roundtable “offer[ed] opportunities for young women to connect directly with community leaders and potential mentors, and prepare themselves for a realistic future. And for us— new connections and friendships!”

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