Women's Leadership Institute surprises and inspires women undergraduates

Weekends go by too quickly, and a Women's Leadership Institute weekend filled with empowering talks, workshops, and women leaders is no exception.

The Women’s Leadership Institute is a weekend-long event where FSU women faculty, staff, and alumni aid undergraduate women in leadership learning. Forty-nine undergraduate women spent Nov. 2 to Nov. 4 enhancing their leadership identity, capacity and ability at the annual institute.

WLI group 2018_web.jpg
Participants and facilitators of the 2018 Women's Leadership Summit pose for a group photo
on Sunday, Nov. 4.

Camila Robeldo, a senior International Affairs major, admitted to being intimidated by the long list of events scheduled for the institute. After overcoming her initial worries, she said, she was pleasantly surprised by how much the event inspired and impacted her.

“I’m beyond glad I came to this event,” Robeldo said, “I found this unexpected support system, a support system I didn’t even know existed.”

Sophomore philosophy and history major Chandika Basdeo was similarly surprised by the event’s influence on her.

“I got more from this event than I expected,” Basdeo said, “It made me realize that equality is happening now and it can happen because of me.”

Throughout the event undergraduates learned and discussed with FSU women leaders about topics including women in leadership roles and women’s oppression.

“We really touched on why women are oppressed in our society,” Basdeo said, “and how to alleviate the cyclical process of oppression.”

Freshman political science and international affairs major Joselynn Olmo explained that women are not usually defined or pictured as leaders.

“Usually when you think of leaders in our society you think of men,” Olmo said, “and leadership qualities are also often described as manly. So it’s inspiring to see these women in leadership roles.”

In one of her small group sessions, Olmo described how she and her fellow attendees were asked to analyze how other people view them and how they views themselves.

“The activity really helped me to realize that you are more than what others see you as,” she said.

Robeldo described how in another group session,her group had to read their application entries discussing who and what inspires them. She cited this as one of the most eye-opening and empowering sessions of the institute.

“We read out entries for what inspires us and that was revealing,” Robeldo said. “It made me feel like I wasn’t the only one wanting to do more and unsure of how to move forward.”

One of the goals of the institute is for undergraduates to become more self-assured as women leaders by the end of the weekend. For Olmo, this year’s institute fulfilled this goal.

“I feel much more confident after going to this event,” she said. “I feel more confident of myself and my abilities as a woman and a leader.”

Students can be attendees as well as apply to become WLI student coordinators. In the coordinator role, students can provide their insights on how to make WLI more relevant and meaningful for attendees while continuing to explore what being a women and a leader means to them.

To anyone apprehensive about applying to attend WLI or become a coordinator, Olmo provides encouraging words.

“If you’re a woman who wants to make a change and become more in tune with yourself just apply,” she said. “It’s definitely worth it."

— Talise Burton