The Women of Color Summit 2019, a three-day conference that seeks to serve as a platform to empower women of color on campus will be held on the first weekend of March. The summit will be sponsored by the Office of Alumni Relations, but the idea was originally sparked by three students–Toni Ortega ’18, Sarah Johnson ’18 and Dana Marecheau ’20–who recognized a missing link amongst female students of color, alumnae, faculty and staff.
“Their vision was a summit where women of color could connect with one another, engage in meaningful discussions, and develop their professional network,” said Bronte Burleigh-Jones, vice president for Finance and Administration, via email.
The idea was established in the spring of 2018 with the formation of a Women of Color Summit planning committee. An executive team was formed when Joanne Adebayo ’21, Preeti Khanal ’19, Titilope Ogunsola ’19 and Eunsol Jun ’19 decided to carry out the original vision set out by Ortega, Johnson and Marechaeu. All four members are overseeing four sub-committees: event planning, liaisons, social media/marketing and historian/strategic visioning.
“We had great ideas, but we needed more people to join the team, then we created an application and reached out to Student Life to help get the word out,” said Ogunsola. The sub-committees also include eight other students from various class years.
“We’ve been working on this since last September and we had a reception during Homecoming weekend where we invited women of color to participate in brainstorming for the event,” Ogunsola explained.
According to the schedule released on the Alumni page of Dickinson’s website, the student-run initiative is set to start off on Friday, March 1 with a welcome reception followed by workshops. “I am most looking forward to the opening reception [because] it will be an opportunity for our current students, faculty, staff and alumnae of color to come together to share the start of a meaningful weekend together,” Burleigh-Jones stated.
The workshops will be taught by various women of color alumnae and professors. Topics range from “Finding Meaning & Purpose” to “Who Are our Allies?” that aim to engage students in conversations that will allow for self-reflection and knowledge of the support and resources available on campus for women of color.
Prachi Shah ’22, an international student from India, shared that she “read about it on Facebook” and thinks “it is a crucial step [to] provide a safe space for women of color to express themselves and be[ing] in a safe environment is needed for their success as different people have different experiences.” She added, “I’m very excited about the summit because it will be a great opportunity to meet other women of color and hear about experiences that I can relate and connect to.”
Burleigh-Jones encourages female students of color to “keep your eyes open for our registration materials, this is an event you do not want to miss.”