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International Women’s Forum encourages women to rise up

by Maria Dolores Perez

Texas Wesleyan live-streamed their 5th annual International Women’s event with an added theme reminding women to rise up through challenging times in their personal and professional lives on March 8. This year’s title, “Rise Up: Women in Leadership Forum,” invited Shonn Evans Brown and Priscila Dilley, two empowered women in essential leadership roles, who provided virtual audience members with words of wisdom. 

At the opening of the event, Dr. Megan Wright, professor at the School of Business at Texas Wesleyan and chair of the forum, said that this event connects the Texas Wesleyan community to leaders. 

It also “encourages us to challenge; to think differently about how women are moving through leadership positions,” said Wright in the forum. She also urged the audience to leave the event with an empowered mindset. 

She thanked the School of Business, student life, and the diversity and inclusion council of Texas Wesleyan for bringing this event to the campus.  

In the forum, Dr. Angela Dampeer, vice president of human resources and co-founder of the diversity and inclusion council, served as master of ceremony. President Slabach and Dr. Sameer Vaidya, associate dean of the School of Business Administration, welcomed viewers to the event. 

“Some of the most important mentors in my life have been women,” said President Slabach. He also stressed audience members to acknowledge women’s leadership in the world, Texas Wesleyan and the community. 

Dampeer asked the panelists introductory questions, created by Dr. Wright, such as “what advice do you have for a student aspiring to be a leader?” and “what book would you recommend to the audience as a ‘go to’ for challenges and or leadership?” 

Three pieces of advice, provided by the panelists, stood out to Dampeer. She loved that both women touched on the topic of balancing multiple roles in one’s personal and professional lives. The concept of compartmentalization, as well as self-care, were topics that resonated with Dampeer. 

She loved Brown’s advice on being present even when being in a video call: The importance of showing one’s face, paying close attention, and being an active participant also resonated with her. The concept of overcoming fear as a “way to rise up” also inspired Dampeer. 

Barbara Barnhart, an audience member of the forum and director for student activities and orientation at Texas Wesleyan, also shared her experience. “Truly, I enjoyed the whole experience beginning to end. The panelists were so genuine and relatable. The audience questions were insightful, and I just love the implications that programming of this caliber has, such as reaffirming that women’s voices are valuable, that our experiences are beneficial, and that just being present can be so impactful in so many ways.”

Audience members were also allowed to ask questions of their own. Concluding questions were intentionally fun and casual. These included, “what are the top 5 songs in your playlist?” and “what is your favorite birthday cake?” 

Barnhart encourages students to watch the conference live even if they were not present that day as she “personally believes that an opportunity to hear another point of view, share wisdom and knowledge is an invaluable experience.” 

Dampeer also motivates students to watch the live streaming video found on the Texas Wesleyan diversity and inclusion council Facebook page. She stated that Brown and Dilley shared “wonderful nuggets” that students can use today. The questions asked in the forum were also “brilliant questions to be able to propel [everyone] forward as a professional.” 

Dampeer said that “scop[ing] those wonderful nuggets to take with you and your professional leadership career is invaluable.” 

Besides taking the recommendations made by Brown and Dilley, Dampeer recommends Texas Wesleyan female students to “look to other women that are strong, that are leading and that are [their] age for encouragement.” She also advises them to seek counseling as a tool for life guidance. 

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