Founded in September 2017, Plattsburgh State’s Women in Leadership club strives to empower women and allies in the community and bring awareness to social injustices faced in professional settings.
Recently obtaining its permanent status as an official club on campus, Women in Leadership hosts weekly workshops and lectures focused on helping students enhance their skills in leadership roles for different career fields. Their meetings cover a wide range of topics from learning how to use Microsoft Excel to learning how to develop one’s personal brand.
Current President of Women in Leadership Antonellie “Nelly” Delacruz was inspired to educate the Plattsburgh community on the importance of female representation in administrative positions after experiencing sexism on campus.
“During my sophomore year, I was doing work for a group project,” Delacruz said. “I just met someone for the first time, and I was being treated unfairly. He didn’t even look me in the eye. He didn’t recognize I was there.”
She initially thought her classmate was a bit shy but soon noticed his misogynistic behavior.
“I was like ‘No, this is not going to happen,’ but it kept happening,” Delacruz said. “I decided I wanted to raise a voice because I wasn’t going to let this pattern continue. I wanted to spark a dialogue that women are just as smart as their male counterparts in any profession.”
Delacruz’s idea to start a club came to life last year after she spoke to other women on campus and noticed they shared similar stories about feeling unnoticed and underrepresented.
During the summer, Janelle Burgos, current Women in Leadership treasurer met Delacruz after working together as orientation leaders.
“On the drive back up to Plattsburgh, we really nailed down that we wanted to make a club that celebrated and supported women leadership positions,” Burgos said.
Through word of mouth, female students from the School of Business and Economics, including current Women in Leadership Vice President Samantha Railey, were excited to hear about this up-and-coming club and showed their support.
For Burgos, Delacruz and Railey, the first step in establishing a club was finding a name that was inclusive to the community.
Railey said the original name of the club was “Women of SBE,” but it was soon changed to Women in Leadership because they wanted to broaden the scope and attract people from different majors.
“We had issues with the Student Association Senate because we were named ‘Women of, ‘ and they were afraid it would seem like it was a women’s-only club,” Burgos said. “However, we’re really supporting getting allies in both the male and non-binary community.”
The next step was to establish an executive board that was diverse and inclusive in both gender and major. The club’s current vice president, Brett Nguyen, is the only male student on the executive board. However, the club encourages more men on campus to join the board.
“We need everyone’s voice, whether it is male, female or non-binary,” Delacruz said. “We need to include them in our dialogue.”
After being granted temporary status, the executive board of Women in Leadership made it its priority to prove to the community that the club deserved to be recognized. They held weekly meetings in Yokum and encouraged students and faculty members from the School of Business and Economics to promote the club’s activities. Within a few weeks, the club moved the meetings to its current location in meeting room 4 of the Angell College Center.
As of this past January, Women in Leadership was finally recognized as an official club. The meetings attracted freshmen and sophomores from different majors. Railey said she was excited to see people sharing their experiences on campus.
“We tackle issues that are normally about uncomfortable situations that people want to talk about but are too afraid to step up and say,” Railey said. “We actually do a great job at that. Everyone gets involved and has their voice heard.”
Burgos’ favorite workshop is the salary job negotiations event. At the meeting, PSUC Director of the Career Development Center Julia Overton-Healy discussed how potential employees can avoid underselling or overselling themselves during a job interview. Healy also gave pointers on how current employees should approach their boss when asking for a raise.
“I’m getting close to graduating and looking for jobs, so it’s something that was really important for me to learn as a skill,” Burgos said.
Meetings are held in meeting room 4 every Wednesday at 7 p.m. The club is currently planning to attend a women empowerment conference this fall at Harvard University. Delacruz said the club is also planning to host a yoga session, which will take place sometime during the last week of school, to promote self care.
“We recognize that women in different majors are going to eventually be in an administrative role and will be leaders in their own field, so we feel that those people are important to join our club,” Delacruz said. “We want them to realize that they can achieve all and not be intimidated.”
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