Women's conference focuses on attitude, leadership
About 200 people of all ages and backgrounds — women, men, students and community members — gathered in the Union to learn about how far women have come, and inspire women to further strengthen themselves and become leaders of the future.
The 10th annual MSU Women’s Leadership Conference was hosted by the Women’s Initiative for Leadership Development, or WILD, and the Women’s Resource Center. The theme of the conference was “Attitude is Everything – Lead With It!”
Participants could attend various workshops, with topics such as “Fresh and Fly in the Workplace: Young Women Leading with a positive Attitude,” “Internships 101” and “Rape Culture and its Effect on People.”
Janisse Martinez, co-chair of WILD and communication junior, said the workshops are different each year. She said they are taught by different people from MSU and the community, including students, MSU faculty and local entrepreneurs.
“That’s what’s great about the conference, you can attend several years but get a different perspective (each time),” Martinez said. “I think (the conference is) really important because it’s a day that we celebrate how far (women have) come, but also what we can improve on.”
Martinez said there were about eight men at the event on Sunday, but one year, half of the attendees were men.
“That goes to show how much this has broadened,” Martinez said. “A lot of the workshops are viewed toward women, but some are just in general.”
Attendees heard the inspiring words of alumna Carlotta Walls LaNier, one of nine black students, known as the “Little Rock Nine,” to first integrate Arkansas’ Little Rock Central High School in 1957. The nine students were chosen because of their good grades, but they faced harassment from other students and teachers on a daily basis because of their race.
“I’m happy that none of you had to experience that type of schooling in your high school,” LaNier said to the group.
This is the second year LaNier spoke about her experience and gave some inspiring words to the conference attendees. After graduating from a prejudiced high school, LaNier said being a student at a large school, such as MSU, for her first two years of college was exactly what she was looking for.
“I was looking for a place to just be a number,” LaNier said.
Cindy Victor, Franklin, Mich. resident, said she heard about the event from her daughter, who is a member of WILD. Victor said she was excited to hear LaNier speak because she has read her court case, and she remembers the prejudice black people faced back then.
“(LaNier) was a hero then and even more today,” Victor said. “People don’t really understand what it was like back then — communism, poll taxes, prejudice.”
Jacqueline Mullen, comparative culture and politics junior, attended the conference and said she enjoyed the different speakers and inspirational topics.
“The first thing that I thought was really important was that you should go out and try to learn about people are different from you and not be scared,” Mullen said. “The second thing is that women are wonderful and beautiful and we shouldn’t be scared to just be ourselves (and) be powerful in the workplace.”
MSU alumna and the youngest member of the Little Rock Nine Carlotta Walls LaNier speaks to students and members of the community on Sunday, Nov. 18, 2012, at the Union. LaNier came to MSU to speak at the 10th annual Women's Leadership Conference. James Ristau/The State News