Whitely to host 8th annual Women’s Leadership Symposium

The 8th annual Patricia A. Whitely Women’s Leadership Symposium will be held on March 26. The goal of the symposium is to show women the opportunities they have available to them, as well as to empower them to have the confidence to go after their dreams.

“It’s an opportunity for undergraduate women and graduate women, to be together for a weekend and to network,” said Patricia A. Whitely, the senior vice president for Student Affairs and the namesake of the symposium. “I really believe in the power of networking, mentoring and role models, as well as listening to others’ stories, like what were the obstacles they had to deal with.”

Lasting two hours and 45 minutes, participants will have the opportunity to empower and celebrate women in all spaces through the theme “She S.O.A.R.S,” which stands for saw, overcame, achieved, reflected and served.

Participants of the symposium will get to hear from Canisha Sierra Turner, this year’s keynote speaker. She is the CEO and owner of Executive Reign, a company that prepares individuals for the world of competition, in any form that it takes.

Senior Abigail Adeleke, the outgoing student government president, shared the importance of events like the Women’s Leadership Symposium and how they have shaped her during her time at UM.

“Any events that you can learn and connect and network with individuals who know vastly more than you, I’m always trying to be in those spaces,” Adeleke said. “ I’ve found through those kinds of mentors and these kinds of guidance have always been super helpful, like when you’re in the Zoom or you’re next to somebody and you’re talking about your experience but also learning from them, it’s like how the world actually works.”

Unlike years past, due to the coronavirus pandemic, the symposium will be held virtually over Zoom.

“What’s great about this time is that there are so many different ways to create events and connect with individuals,” said Adeleke.

Theresa Pinto, an adjunct professor of ecosystem science and policy echoed the importance of these events for women.

“It’s still very helpful to have these emotionally supportive events that help young students, especially girls, think about both the past,” Pinto said. “So they don’t take it for granted, but also to feel that support going forward in their careers and anything they chose to do.”

The symposium aims to promote more opportunities for women and support them in achieving their goals.

“There are a lot of ways to get where you want to go and follow your dreams,” Whitely said. “There isn’t a straight line, you just take advantage of the opportunities that are here.

The Women’s Leadership Symposium will be held on Mar. 26 from 3 p.m. to 5:45 p.m and interested individuals can register here.