NCCWSL Attendee Experiences

The National Conference for College Women Student Leaders (NCCWSL) is an opportunity to meet young women from across the nation and grow as a leader. Here are some of the reflections that past attendees have shared about their experience:


Name: Tra Vinikoor

Program/Major: Biomedical Engineering PhD Program

Experience: I always want to improve myself and develop into a leader that advocates for women, in general and especially for women in science and higher education. Therefore, I applied to NCCWSL seeking out opportunities to meet other female leaders. Over the span of two days, I attended many inspirational workshops and met so many women who were energetic, open minded, and who shared amazing ideas, interesting perspectives, and stories about themselves to empower me and others. We also learned different practices to apply in our life such as finance management, personal branding, discovering potential career paths, and networking. It was such an impactful conference, and it continues to influence my personal and professional mindset on a daily basis.

Name: Mikayla Moody

Program/Major: Biomedical Engineering PhD Program

Experience: I felt so privileged to be given the opportunity to attend this conference. I applied to this conference because I wanted to improve my leaderships skills to be a better leader for the organizations I am a part of as well as be a better engineer. I was very excited to learn from other women leaders and hear their unique perspectives and experiences! One of the major things I learned is that you can be an activist for your community, and that might involve politics and trying to change policy, but your main reason for being involved can just be that you want to do the right thing. I have always struggled with the idea that I would be good at activism due to the political side of things, but it was good to hear other activists say that you can do more than just that.

Name: Kathryn Atkinson

Program/Major: Double major in Nutritional Sciences and Individualized Major in Food Studies, Minor in Classics & Ancient Mediterranean Studies

Experience: Embrace your own journey and live your own truth. When each one succeeds individually, we succeed collectively. I applied to NCCWSL hoping to connect with similarly passionate and inspired women; I left having become part of a community—though we were physically separate, I still felt a sense of togetherness with these women, connected by our shared experiences. I learned, most importantly, to live authentically—by my own terms rather than anyone else’s—and whenever possible, to create happiness in my own life.

Name: Carolyn Conway

Program/Major: Political Science PhD Program

Experience: I applied to NCCWSL 2021 to benefit from the numerous trainings, workshops, networking opportunities, and to gain inspiration from the AAUW community. In the the keynote speech by Dr. Cooper, she encouraged attendees by focusing on never giving up, being driven without putting others down, and the necessity to push boundaries to advance. I found the two workshops I attended, How to Talk About and Take Control of Your Money and the AAUW: Know Your Value and Get Paid, very timely and useful. Some topics covered were credit card debt and repayment, successful budgeting, and salary negotiation as a woman specifically. Overall, I highly recommend the NCCWSL conference, particularly for undergraduate women. My attendance provided me with the ability to connect with a network of impressive women while navigating the job market, as well as other incredibly useful information that I have already utilized in my job search and beyond.

Name: Emily Winter

Program/Major: Psychology PhD Program

Experience: I applied to NCCWSL to establish connections with other women at UConn and across the country. I was interested in also learning specific new skills at the conference and attend workshops to grow my current skills. I enjoyed my experience and learned many new things that I have applied to my personal life and in my studies to become a school pscyhologist. I appreciated UConn’s scholarship and would encourage other students to apply in the future!

Name: Michelle San Pedro

Program/Major: Anthropology PhD Program

Experience: I felt incredibly supported as a graduate student of this university when staff at the Women’s Center invited us to the virtual National Conference for College Women Student Leaders. Dr. Brittany Cooper’s keynote speech based on her book, “Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower” was amazing. As a Women, Sexuality and Gender Studies scholar, I was moved by her words and that of other Black feminists. She delivered a thoughtful interrogation into the ways people of color and women are undermined on a daily basis, and that rage emerges from these spirit-killing instances. She said, “rage is the emotional expression of oppressions, intrusions, and violations that we reject.” She had a radical vision that we need to harness that rage into a transformative power to love ourselves, build community, fight against injustice, and take much needed rest.