In honor of Women's History Month, the Spring Hill College (SHC) Diversity and Inclusion Committee hosted “A Seat at the Table: Women in Leadership” on March 20 in the Mary Lou and John Barter Student Center. Rebecca Byrne, a senior at SHC, and junior Elizabeth Crocker moderated this two-hour panel discussion, which was attended by approximately 40 students. Prior to the introduction of the panel, Crocker said, “Through sharing their experiences, there can be a recognition of the variety of experiences women live in the workforce, pursuing success.”
Following their welcome address, Crocker and Byrne prompted the panelists to introduce themselves. They included SHC alumnae Jennifer Scalici, MD ‘99 and Jasmine Williams ‘11, current SHC staff members Rhonda Shirazi and Laury Rowland and local marine scientist, Jennifer Greene. This discussion was organized to give the predominately female student audience the opportunity to learn from the perspective of professionals about obstacles they face as females in their respective industries. Scalici practices medicine as a gynecologic oncologist and Williams is a local news reporter. Shirazi is vice president of finance and accounting and Rowland is a public safety officer.
To begin the discussion, all of the women shared a little of bit of their life history with the audience and what Women’s History Month meant to them. For alumna Jasmine Williams having “a seat at the table” is important because others “need to hear our sides.” Williams shared that having a leadership role as a woman means “You can lead the way for other women like you” and ultimately giving other women their own seat at the table. When sharing advice on how to handle adversity, senior Paige Guillory said “self-love is the best way to conquer as women.” As the youngest member of the panel, she shared that it was an honor to be a part of the experience. "Each woman on the panel inspired me to become more outspoken and to speak up to both share my story and my thoughts so that other women can find their own confidence to do the same,” said Guillory.
Senior Claire Oswald said she left the event feeling hopeful and that the impactful discussion will prepare her for what is to come in the real world. “All the women before us have given us a great path, but there is still a lot to overcome in the workforce.” Feeling empowered after the discussion, freshman MaKayla Rodrigue shared her hopes for the future stating, "women stand strong in our society and surpass the doubts of those who underestimate us.”
As the chair of the Diversity and Inclusion Committee, Amanda Thompson, who serves as SHC’s assistant director of Residence Life, works with her team to develop events and initiatives to educate students and staff about diversity and inclusion. When asked about the genesis of the event and the theme “A Seat at the Table,” Thompson said, “That phrase is about people having a seat at the proverbial table of power and being able to change dynamics.” Thompson expressed that the committee aims to have more events like this to promote inclusion and be a liaison for minority groups.
By Kerri Ebanks
SHC Student Media