steph black

reflections of a wild feminist
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Reflections on the National Conference for College Women Student Leaders (NCCWSL) 2017

It has only been two days since I returned to the District after attending NCCWSL 2017, and I still haven’t fully processed how amazing it was.

The National Conference for College Women Student Leaders (whew!) is an annual conference put on by AAUW for college women to fill their toolbox with invaluable skills, network with invaluable contacts, and, most importantly, learn how to empower ourselves (and others) as women.

To say that NCCWSL achieved those goals is a fairly large understatement. With over 50 workshops available, multiple professional networking sessions, and some killer keynote speakers, it would be hard NOT to leave the conference feeling like you could take on the world.

The first workshop I attended was called ‘Everything You Need to Start Building an Amazing Professional Online Brand’ put on by Assistant Director of Student Life at Loyola University Maryland, Sinclair Ceasar (@Sinclair_Ceasar). At 20 years, I can’t say that personal branding was something I had ever considered. But after this session, I felt prepared to begin creating an amazing online portfolio, and get clearer on what I wanted out of a personal and professional brand. As a participant, I learned that I need to think deeply about the message I want to send about myself and how to make it consistent across all platforms, how to promote my skills and interests while remaining true to my authentic voice, and how to leverage social media for networking and engagement, and how to promote your strengths and talents while using a more authentic voice. Mind=blown.

Next came another constructive workshop with Dr. Josie Ahlquist, Ed.D., Research Associate, Instructor, and Digital Leadership Educator, Florida State University (@josieahlquist). This session helped me feel empowered to shape my story and claim my place in the digital space. I discovered the uniqueness of digital storytelling, uploading my personal brand across multiple digital reputation tools, and how I can vulnerably share about myself while building opportunities and relationships around the globe. And yes, this session was just as overwhelming as it sounds, in the best possible way! I know I’ll be referring back to all the notes I took for a while!

Then comes my favorite session of the whole conference: Put a Filter on It: How to Use Social Media to Make Your Message Go Viral by the lovely Renee Davidson, Digital Communications Manager, AAUW (@reneetheorizes and @AAUW). This workshop boasted this description:

In today’s social media-ruled world, any successful movement must have a digital component. (If it’s not on Facebook, it didn’t happen, right?) If you’re looking to create change — whether by organizing a march, rally, petition, boycott, or something else equally awesome — there’s an abundance of (mostly free!) online tools to help you gain traction. We’ll look at some effective examples, from the #WomensMarch to #DeleteUber, and identify everything you need to engage, mobilize, and make an impact.

This workshop was way more than simply how to use Facebook and Twitter. I got a superb crash course in Tweetdeck, Tweetchat, and Tweetstorm. Twibbon, Facebook Frames, and Facebook Live. Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter Cards, Canva, and much, much more. Aptly called The Buffet, I left knowing I had an abundance of options to choose from to make my messages heard.

But those are only the workshops! During my four days, I heard some INCREDIBLE women speak. During the Women of Distinction Awards, I had the honor of learning from and listening to Rosie Rios, the 43rd Treasurer of the United States; Danielle Feinberg, Director of Photography for Lighting at Pixar (@@dafeinberg); Amanda Nguyen, President and Founder of Rise (@nguyen_amanda); and Crystal Valentine, Author and Poet ( Facebook).

And don’t forget the keynotes! First was none other than Melissa Harris-Perry, Ph.D., Political commentator, author, professor and all-around brilliant human being. Then came my fitness icon, body positivity guru Jessamyn Stanley! Yoga teacher, writer, body positive advocate, Jessamyn was fantastic.

 

All of this barely scratched the surface of the wealth of information I gained after this conference. I can’t wait to follow up with my new contacts, begin building my brand, and getting ready for next year’s NCCWSL. #onwards


I would like to give a HUGE thank you to The Center for Diversity and Inclusion at American University for awarding me a scholarship to fund the cost of the entire conference! I would not have been able to attend without their generosity.

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