‘Elect Her’ Preparing Women for Leadership and Political Office

November 10, 2014

In student leadership roles and in political office across the country, more women are needed to represent.

An upcoming free workshop and presentation is giving female University students the opportunity to find their voice and build their confidence for pursuing an elected leadership position.

Elect HerAdrianna M. Kam ’15, who is pursuing a degree in selected studies in education, is organizing the Nov. 15 event at the Syracuse University Sheraton Hotel & Conference Center as part of the American Association of University Women (AAUW) Elect Her program to prepare college women to run for office. The event is structured so that freshmen can take away how they can get involved in campus leadership and how upperclassmen can get advice about leadership roles after college, Kam says.

“We want to build strong women leaders on the campus and in the workforce, since there is such an underrepresentation of women,” says Kam, Student Association board of elections and membership chairwoman. “We want to help empower women and inspire them to get out there. They have great ideas and they need to share them.”

Sponsored by AAUW and Running Start, there will be a women’s leadership workshop with Kate C. Farrar, vice president of AAUW Campus Leadership Programs, who will offer information on how to run an election, being in the public eye and communication skills.

Along with a luncheon, there will also be guest speakers Syracuse Common Councilors At-Large Jean Kessner and Kathleen Joy, and a student panel with Kam and Aysha Seedat ’16, student life chair for the Student Association.

The event runs from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Sheraton. University students can sign up on orgsync.com.

Fast Forward funding

Kam was able to put the event together through a Fast Forward grant. Kam and Alexandra Curtis ’14, former Student Association president, applied for funding through the Fast Forward competition that awarded funding to students with ideas to help make a positive impact on the world. The competition was part of Chancellor Kent Syverud’s inauguration. They had organized an earlier Elect Her event last spring.

The two were motivated to apply for the Fast Forward funding to continue to encourage young women to break from stereotypes that start at a young age and have become social norms. For example, a man might be called “assertive,” but for a woman, that same behavior might mean being called “bossy or rude,” Kam says.

Kam interned as a school counselor last semester and saw how many girls were lacking confidence. “It hurt me every day to see this,” says Kam, who is working in a middle school this semester. “I want to make sure our younger generation can evolve and make an impact. Hopefully events like these will break that.”

Kam was motivated to run for the Student Association to see if she could make an impact and the people she met mad the difference. “I loved the leaders I met, really strong individuals and true role models,” she says.

Those who continue to inspire her are not high-profile politicians, but the women she’s worked with at the University. “My biggest role models are my friends who were seniors that graduated last year,” Kam says. “It’s the women I’ve known personally who’ve impacted me the most.”