How do our members feel about being a part of the WILL program?

Read statements from current students and alumnae below!

 

Statements from Current Students

“WILL has opened my eyes to what it truly means to be a feminist and an activist. I learn about the inequality in my WGS classes and then I participate in social change to combat those inequalities during WILL events. In other words, I learn about a problem and then, in WILL, I do my best to solve the problem!”

– Rebecca Conn

“WILL has taught me the importance of voicing out my opinions and getting involved in a community that looks out to better others’ lives,”

– Sharwani Kota

“WILL has not only offered me many leadership opportunities, it has also connected me with other women who are just as driven to succeed as I am. Before W.I.L.L my eyes weren’t open to the injustices women face, now I can’t risk to blink. I have a voice and it matters, I am a girl and I will prosper. One of my favorite quotes is “Your silence will not protect you”(Margaret Lord), W.I.L.L has not only taught me how true this quote is but it has also given me a platform to speak up.”

– Genesis Lopez

“I joined WILL so that upon my arrival at TCNJ, I’d have a access to a community of smart, driven women who were leaders across campus. That’s exactly what I got; WILL members are my friends, my role models, and my sidekicks in resistance. Without WILL, I would not have received the encouragement to step far outside of my comfort zone and run for leadership positions, apply for–and get–my dream internship, and travel alone to DC to explore career possibilities I didn’t know existed. WILL has shaped my entire college experience and opened up the door for me to see how I can live out my feminist values during and beyond my time at TCNJ.”

– Rosie Driscoll

“I decided to join WILL because of the word “leadership” in the name. I was tired of being quiet and not speaking up and I wanted to take initiative since I always had ideas I never brought up. At Brookdale Community College, I learned to do just that as well as gain a new perspective on how I see the world with the introduction of gender studies in my education. As many students in high school in the United States do, I was taught about the history of men in the United States, and I read books written by men. I did not question this lack of perspective entirely until I took Women’s history at Brookdale. Now I desire to discover new narratives and standpoints. As I am continuing with school at TCNJ, I was able to continue with the WILL program and semester by semester I am further interrogating the field of psychology, which I am studying, and finding gaps that my minor in Women’s, gender, and sexuality studies helps address. I was thinking just the other day, while sitting at the TCNJ WILL induction, about what I would be doing if I had not been introduced to WILL when I was a freshman at Brookdale. The program shaped who I now am and will continue to influence my decisions for the future.”

-Bailey Falco

“My intersectional identities of being a Black, African, Muslim, and Working Class Woman has allowed me to confront my privilege and notice my oppression within society. My desire for social justice and equality led me to become a member of the Women in Learning and Leadership (W.I.L.L.) program here at The College of New Jersey (TCNJ). I decided to partake in WILL, because as a woman I felt that WILL was a great organization that stands for, supports and seeks to further women progression academically, economically, and socially within the campus community. Before coming to college I was familiar with Feminism and women’s rights advocacy, but I still had my reservations on the topics and movements due to ignorance, misinformation and media propaganda. It was not until my membership into WILL, taking various courses in the Women’s Gender, and Sexuality Studies (WGSS) department and partaking in various WILL led and co-sponsored experiences, events, programs and workshops that I became more educated, aware and passionate about Womanism, Black Feminism, Intersectional Feminism and advocacy for all women’s right. Through being a part of WILL I am not only engaging in an organization that correlates with my passion for women’s rights, social justice and advocacy, but I am also helping pave the way for my career goal for helping create positive progression for all women. All in all, the WILL program has been a tremendous part of my college experience and has positively impacted me academically, professionally, socially, financially and intellectually. I am so grateful to be a WILL girl and scholar at TCNJ. I constantly recommend other girls to seek membership into the WILL program due to its positive impact and mission,”

-Madina P. Ouedraogo

Statements from Alumnae

(To read more about what our alumnae have been doing after WILL, click here!)

“Joining the WILL Program has expanded not only my knowledge, but my entire world. Through WILL, I have been able to participate in numerous leadership programs and workshops as well as take part in a solidarity project to Nicaragua. The WILL Program offers so many unique opportunities and also the resources to engage in them. My four years in this program has helped shape who I am today and create lifelong friendships.”

-Ashley Lai

“My involvement in Women in learning and Leadership (WILL) was one of the best parts of my undergraduate experience at TCNJ. When I started at TCNJ, I didn’t even know that I could study Women & Gender Studies, let alone major in it! My first experience with WILL was through their yearly production of the Vagina Monologues – I was both amazed and in shock at what I learned through watching the show, and I know I wasn’t alone. WILL helped me grow as a student and become a more productive member of society – I became more engaged in politics and activism due to WILL and, as a result, sought out more meaningful volunteer and work experiences. My involvement in WILL has forever changed the way I see the world – I no longer see culture or politics for what they are on the surface, but instead I break them down and try to understand the various layers behind every action and interaction in our society. For this I am grateful – without WILL I would not be as conscientious, compassionate or social-justice oriented as I am today. WILL is a wonderful organization, and I am happy that so many students coming to TCNJ will have the opportunity to engage with WILL, as I did, and be impacted by all the knowledge and experiences that WILL has to offer!”

-Aida L. Figueroa

“I still reach out to the women I met in WILL…”

“As a senior in college thinking about graduation, I didn’t have a clear picture if what would be my next step. I had applied to graduate school and law school but all I was thinking about was getting a job or possibly moving out of the country for a while. I decided to reach out to a few WILL students who had graduated to ask what they were doing and what advice they might be able to offer to someone unsure of what to do after graduation. I received a lot of great information, most of which boiled down to: calm down, it’s going to work out. It is so important to have people willing to offer guidance and able to create a road-map for the future. I still reach out to the women I met in WILL to share ideas or solicit advice and try to keep an eye on the great many things they are doing with their lives. WILL was my introduction to the reality that the world is web of networks. Many networks determine who had access to opportunities and who does not, their existence reinforcing institutionalized oppressions. One of the best ways to expand the professional sphere to include women of diverse backgrounds, experience, and ideas is to create and maintain powerful networks of diverse women. I hope WILL at the College of New Jersey continues to grow with incoming students as well as maintain and utilize the strong network of women it has created over the years.”

-Blakely Decktor

“WILL has transformed my personal and professional life into a series of opportunities and enriching experiences. I became more of a global citizen and community leader and gained a passion for social activism that was dormant before WILL. Since serving as WILL executive chair in 2006, I have remained engaged in community leadership roles. By far joining WILL was the best decision I made in college to make those four years and beyond count for more than just a degree.”

-Jen Braverman

“WILL expanded my concepts of what it means to change the world.”

-Brittany Graf

“I have been empowered to continue seeking leadership positions…”

“There is too much to be said about WILL to be fit in a short statement, but in short WILL and Women’s and Gender Studies transformed my undergraduate experience and instilled valuable lessons I continue to use in life after college. WILL allowed me to learn excellent leadership skills and gain confidence in things like public speaking, interpersonal relations, and organization. Gender Studies allowed me to see the world in a different light, make me more tolerant, and critically examine things I do and say. Of great importance, WILL reinforced the importance of sisterhood and collaboration and supporting one another. After college, these skills were critical in medical school. While women make up 50% of medical school graduates, the continue to fall behind in surgical subspecialties and leadership positions. Using my knowledge, I have been empowered to continue seeking leadership positions, and consider gender issues in how I will practice medicine. I hope to be a leader in my field some day, and WILL’s training in leadership development was immensely helpful.”

-Janine Bernardo

“I would say that WILL was a transformative experience for me. It helped me find a place in college and gain confidence. It opened my mind in ways I didn’t know were possible. But most importantly, it helped me make gender studies a part of my life forever. As a teacher, I weave gender studies into my teaching whenever possible. The WILL program gave me the skills to help dismantle so many pervasive stereotypes in and out of the classroom. A few years ago, I had the opportunity to design and teach a Gender Studies English elective course for juniors and seniors. I no longer teach in that district, but the course has become incredibly popular (among males and females). Likewise, I helped advise a club that empowered young women; they participated in service projects, brought in speakers, and raised awareness in the school. It makes me proud to think that students at the high school level are now being challenged to think in new ways and having opportunities that I didn’t have until I reached college. It makes me proud to pay forward all that I learned through WILL. In short, joining WILL was one of the best decisions of my life.”

-Heidi Schmid

“WILL…welcomed me with open arms.”

“When I transferred to TCNJ, WILL was the first group on campus that welcomed me with open arms. WILL enabled me to attend two leadership conferences and develop into the leader I knew I was. I consider myself to be very lucky to have been a part of WILL and even though I graduated, I still know I have a home in Bliss Hall. The classes in the WGS department were the most thought-provoking and engaging classes I took on campus. After seeing all of the amazing things WILL graduates achieve after TCNJ, it inspires me to do the same. I’m an activist, advocate, and a woman who speaks her mind now. I owe a lot of that growth to the WILL program.”

-Liz Kamel

“I could not imagine my undergrad career without being a member of WILL. In fact, I think it was one of the biggest blessings I ever received. I was able to make lifelong friends as well as have a place on campus to call home. WILL introduced me to a world I never knew existed outside of the bubble I grew up in as well as the fictional bubble TCNJ can create. I was a board member during my sophomore year and that experience taught me leadership skills as well as ways to be an activist no matter how small I thought my endeavors were. I was also able to use those skills and apply them in other organizations’ executive board roles that I held, as well as apply all knowledge of gender and culture that I acquired to coursework and career choices. By being a member of WILL, I got to partake in activities I might have otherwise overlooked. For example, I was able to travel to Duke University with a group of women and present our WILL program. I was also able to intern for Girls Learn Inc., a program that works with and supports girls and young women around the world, seeking to empower and provide education. It would be nearly impossible to explain all the ways I benefitted from being a member of WILL, but outside of the experiences that I got to have, one of the most important things I received was a better understanding of me! Not only as a woman, but as a person with the abilities of being a human, accepting my triumphs as well as failures. Ultimately, I was impacted deeply by the realization that I am a woman, I have a voice, and I can be heard!”

-Yasmin Obie

“I now walk in the world with greater confidence…”

“The WILL curriculum provided me with a unique dimension of analyzing the world from a variety of angles. Because of WILL, I now view the world in more complex and dynamic terms. I see how intersecting layers of power, oppression, and privilege influence our status in the world and how this status changes across time, space, and culture. In addition to expanding my perspective of the external world, WILL has held a powerful mirror before my eyes, enabling me to critically examine my personal influence on my community and the world. I can safely say that because of WILL, I now walk in the world with greater confidence, compassion, and faith in my ability to make a difference in the world.”

-Sarah Briguglio

“I’m writing you all deep in the throes of nostalgia and appreciation for WILL: I just left the first meeting of my grad school’s Feminist Society pretty disappointed. (To the newest members who don’t know me, I graduated this past May and was a Co-Exec Chair for 2015 alongside Jennie!) I discovered that WGS is not offered at the undergrad level in England, which means that pretty much everyone in attendance really wants to understand feminism, feminist theory, social action, etc. but severely lacks the knowledge and language to ‘get it.’ (This also was the cause of a lot of messy dialogue in general, but that’s another story.) They’re not even entirely clear about the different waves of feminism, which is something we learn about freshman year generally.
ANYWAY, I’m writing to let you all know how much I appreciate WILL as a group of highly educated women who use/understand the same language and know what’s up when it comes to all things social equity. I only fully realized how unique this program was after leaving it, and I hope that all current members recognize that before graduation, and that you make the most of your time here–it’s a special place. #sorrynotsorry for the long post; just needed you all to know I love you and WILL! “

-Erin Shannon ’16