Women leaders prepare for conference

Women's Center Final FinalOn May 29, 2013, five of Bellevue College’s women leaders will get the chance to represent BC at the National Conference for College Women Student Leaders in Maryland. Due to the limited amount of space, out of the 10 women who applied only five were chosen: Giulia Balzola, Asami Bandai, Takhmina Dzhuraeva, Gabriela Gonzalez and Leslie Mayo.

The Women’s Conference will take place from May 29 to June 1 and will have “many good workshops that vary from education and great women leaders to domestic violence and women that have suffered family issues,” said Mayo.

Because there were only five spots to go, the selection was very competitive. The applicants sent in letters expressing what they believed they would gain and bring back from the conference. Teresa McClane was on a committee of four people to review applications for who got to go. “It was a really hard decision because there were a lot of great applications,” said McClane.

The reason why so many women were eager to attend the conference was because “it got most of the people’s attention because this conference focused only towards women,” said Gonzalez. “[The conference] is something new that hasn’t been done so we got excited about it,” said Dzhuraeva. There are many exciting aspects of the conference, “helping women develop leadership skills” is just one said McClane. They also “get to network with other student leaders across the country and hear from some incredible women leaders.”

The conference was brought to the attention of the female leaders at BC by McClane, assistant director for the Center of Career Connections and Women’s Center. “In the beginning it started as just the Women’s Center, but it became the Women’s Center and Center for Career Connections where you can find internships and find real work outside school,” said Balzola. The Center is not very well known because “they moved their focus from just women to serve all the students.” However, the Women’s Center is still very active during Women’s Celebration Month. “They organize conferences and bring speakers,” said Balzola.

A number of years ago, “the Career Center and Women’s Center were separate entities, said McClane. “The women center had a lot of career planning activities. The college wanted to expand the career center but didn’t have the money so they put the two together.” Now the women center operates under the umbrella of the Center for Career Connections, but still does everything it has always done.

“Some colleges have women clubs or centers specifically for women. We have a women’s center, but it’s a broader focus for both women and men,” said Dzhuraeva. “For the last three years that I’ve been here we’ve never had anything dedicated solely to women issues and what it means to be a woman in this day”.

“We’re so used to the environment that we live in that sometimes we forget what it means to be a woman… because we grew up in this environment we just accept it as is,” said Dzhuraeva. “There’s so much more we can do.”

“We’ve always been told that we can do anything, but when you start working you face the first obstacle that you would get paid less than your male colleague. Statistically, girls get better grades; they go to the work place and get paid less,” said Balzola. The importance of the Center is so women realize that “people won’t like you less just because you stand up for yourself.”

The Women’s Center and the Center for Career Connections can be found in B-231 above the bookstore. The Center for Career Connections is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Fridays.