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Learning to Thrive

Women of Color Summit 2022 graphic

Students launch third Women of Color Summit

by MaryAlice Bitts-Jackson

What happens when generations of Dickinson women of color join forces for a weekend of celebration, sharing, learning and connection? Ask the more than 150 who took part in the 2022 Women of Color Summit, and you’ll quickly discover the difference that strong women—and empowering sisterhood—can make. 

The student-led summit provides a platform for students and alumni to connect and learn to live intentionally as women of color, cultivate successful careers, enact positive change and thrive in any space they inhabit. This year's Women of Color summit was held March 5-6. 

One hundred students, staff, faculty members and alumnae registered for Saturday’s events, held remotely due to COVID-19 restrictions. These included sessions on cultivating and asserting self-worth, body positivity and wellness. There was also a panel discussion on navigating college and the wider world as a woman of color. The panelists were Judith Rudge '05, Joanne Adebayo '21, Eileen Galicia '10 and Tabitha Jones '08.

“For me, hearing about the stories and initiatives led by these women was truly inspiring,” said Julandry Almonte '22 (Latin American, Latinx & Caribbean studies, Spanish), one of the students leading this year’s summit, “and a fantastic way to start off Women’s History Month.” 

Sunday brought opportunities for Dickinsonians who do not identify as women of color to learn and reflect on what it means to be an ally. Eighty-seven students, staff, faculty and alumni participated in the Allyship Workshop, including President John E. Jones '77, P'11. To communicate the import of this event, student-leaders produced a video of the Ally Day workshop as well as a summit trailer.

The event was planned and presented by executive-committee members Almonte, Yeslie Barrios '23 (Latin American, Latinx & Caribbean studies), Jianna Boswell (English), Petia Nimley '22 (Africana studies, psychology), Pamela Ortiz '22 (computer science), Naomi Familia Paredes '24 (Spanish & Portuguese, international studies), Rediet Patterson '22 (international business & management), Nelly Teta Ntwali '22 (international business & management, political science) and Jaren Wyaco '22 (neuroscience). According to Almonte, the student leaders are thankful to have the opportunity to work together with like-minded students—and for the alumnae who helped pave the way toward this year's success. 

That sense of history and interconnectedness is key. While the summit educates, empowers and brings students together with Dickinson women of color, it also provides an opportunity for alumnae to return to campus and share wisdom and experiences while strengthening ties to each other, to students and to the campus community. Since its inception, alumni from near and far have taken part, including summit founders, past leaders and participants. 

Adebayo, who serves as a Young Alumni Trustee, is among them. After working with Preeti Khanal '19, Titilope Oluwasola '19, Eun Jun '19 as part of the summit’s first planning committee in 2019, she’s been involved with every summit since—first, as a student-organizer and now as advisor, alumni panelist and attendee. Those experiences include the 2020 summit, canceled due to COVID-19, and the first virtual summit in 2021.  

“To see the summit in its third iteration, with four incredible planning committees carrying out the vision we wrote four years ago is amazing. I am in awe of, but not surprised by, the resilience and passion I witnessed,” says Adebayo, who encourages all Dickinsonians to take part as a woman of color or ally. “It is so beautiful to see the summit change and grow as new planning committees have been selected. Each has added their own personal touches that are crucial to the growth and expansion of our collective legacy at Dickinson.” 

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Published March 11, 2022