Women’s Conference: Developing Professionals of Purpose

By Aryatara Shakya and Alexa Allen
Photo by Lesly Luna

    With the goal of connecting employers and potential employees (students from colleges and universities of Winston-Salem community), Salem College will be hosting its fourth annual Women’s Conference: Developing Professionals of Purpose, an event at which  aspiring, young professionals can connect and network. The event has been rigorously organized by a team of brilliant individuals—Alyson Francisco (Founder and CEO of the Women’s Conference), Magdalena Chavez (Marketing and Communications Chair), Alondra “Daisy” Mata (Logistics Chair), Angelica Leonides (Career Fair Chair), Caitlyn Banks (Chief of Finance Chair), and Monica Boyd (Career Expo Faculty Advisor).

    Chavez, C’15, considers it a really rewarding experience to be a part of the organizing committee. “Over the past couple of months, we have come to realize that we are not just individual chairs responsible for one particular role but instead we are a team that falls and rises together,” she says.

     Leonides says, “It is definitely a learning experience because we all have different personalities and a different mindset. I personally am very grateful with my committee members because they have been on it and done a great job as well as other committee members and chairs that have been here from the beginning till the end. This conference would have not been possible without them .”

    Planning for such an important event has both ups and downs. Chavez shares that the team has experienced some difficulties in gaining attendance because of the timing of the conference. “Some suggest that we hold the conference earlier and the others suggest that it be later in the year; however, the amount of work that goes into the conference does not allow for the preparing committee to be prepared to host the conference on the first month back from summer. Also, after convincing the team, it was decided that the ideal date for the career fair and professional development conference was in October, because internship and job application deadlines typically fall in November.”

    The name of the event may be puzzling. Is the conference only for woman or business majors? Leonides clarifies, “One of our main obstacles is getting people to stop believing that the conference is only for women or that it is only for business majors. I can not stress it enough that this conference is not only for business majors it is open to everyone! The whole conference this year is about helping to guide  students and professionals  into becoming successful in today’s global market.”  

    A student-led initiative, with guidance from faculty advisors, the event is being planned in a way for attendees to gain maximum advantage, from networking to meeting prospective future employers to discovering their potential in their desired career fields. The event plans to host some amazing guest speakers—Robert L. Deitz (Professor of Public Policy of the School of Public Policy), Blanca Cobb (TruthBlazer LLC Founder and CEO), Cheryl Lindsay (Hanesbrand, Inc. Director of Global Inclusion, Community Engagement and Project Management), Savannah Shaw (Facilitator, Consultant & Coach) , Terry Pardue (recently retired Procter & Gamble Executive) and Susan Rothrock Montaquila (Lawyer in Winston-Salem).

    Not only is this an opportunity for students to listen to speakers from various fields, but the event also promotes a learning environment where students can develop mentorship relationships and acquire internships and job opportunities. Chavez,  who has attended the conference annually since it inception in 2012, says “Each year I became more and more involved. I initially started volunteering because I recognized the importance of planning and executing a professional project of this magnitude without actually being employed to do so.”


    The conference was on Oct. 17, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. This year’s conference includes a continental breakfast, keynote address from Susan M. Cameron (President and C.E.O. of Reynolds American Inc.), three breakout sessions, a career expo, a buffet lunch and gift drawing giveaway!

    For more information visit c4wnbconference.com.

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