BLOOMINGTON, Ill.—Some young women enter college with talent and enormous potential,
but with less confidence than their male counterparts.
Those are the findings of numerous national studies. To help instill confidence in
female students at Illinois Wesleyan University, alumnae and women staffers formed
the Council for IWU Women. Now in its eighth year, the Council holds an annual summit connecting female students
with successful alumnae from a variety of occupations.
Council members serve current students as mentors, advisors, connections to internships,
jobs, career changes — just about any way they can help, they do, according to Elly
Jones ’91, a division manager at State Farm Insurance and a member of the Council.
“When the students we’ve met at the summit call us (alumnae) to ask, ‘I’m looking
for an internship in New York. Can you help me find one?’ or ‘I’ve always wanted to
work for State Farm. How do I do that?’ then we know we’ve reached the mark,” said
Jones. “Reaching out to us is what we want.”
The summit and its programs are completely funded by the Council for Women’s volunteer
members. This year nearly 40 alumnae traveled to Bloomington from across the country
at their own expense to meet students. The summit includes workshops on topics such
as transitioning from college life to the world of work, handling stress in the workplace,
and an insider’s look at graduate school. Practice job interviews are also offered
for students such as Elizabeth Egan ’14.
A business marketing major, Egan says the summit is one of her favorite Illinois Wesleyan
activities. “Having a lot of powerful women in one place (at the summit) is just something
I really love about Illinois Wesleyan,” said Egan. “We hear a lot about how strong
the IWU alumni bond is, and it’s so reassuring to see women who went before me encouraging
me and offering to help me. It gives me a lot of confidence going out into the work
Egan added that the summit is just one more active example of the Illinois Wesleyan
culture — allowing students to determine their own interests and then to pursue them.
“There are so many opportunities here for students to become leaders, to get connected
to alumni, to do all those experiences you want to have coming into college,” she
said. “It just seems so easy here, whether you are an introvert or extrovert, come
from a big high school or a small one, to find those experiences you want to have