Alumnae and Students Climb Together at Annual Women’s Summit

Physician Emilee (Bocker) Henkel '07 (right) keeps her new son Cashen close while talking with current students about careers in healthcare at the Council for IWU Women annual summit. 

March 5, 2015

At the 2015 Council for IWU Women Summit, Illinois Wesleyan women from yesterday and today came from across the country to make “Time to Climb Together.”

Organized by the Council for IWU Women, which is now in its ninth year, the summit connects female students with successful alumnae in an array of fields and professions. Council members serve as mentors, advisors and connections to internships or jobs.

Events at the summit included luncheon speeches by alumnae, a panel discussion, practice interviews with alumnae, a presentation on mentor relationships and a Career Connections networking event.

 “The event is very contemporary, and very issues-oriented,” said Lisa Mishra ’15, an economics and religion double major. “The summit has a very big commitment to social justice and issues of equity.”

The popular Career Connections event was the third for Monica Villegas ’16, a business administration and psychology double major. According to Villegas, many of the alumnae she talked with obtained their jobs through networking, and they urged students to “be flexible to getting a job that even though it might not be your favorite—it might lead you to exactly what you want to go into, or it might teach you that’s what you want.”

Ayrren Calhoun '18 was among dozens to students to seek advice from alumni at the summit. 

Also seeking career wisdom was Nicole Jovicevic ’16, who garnered two main takeaways from the summit. “No matter where you go, there is an interconnected network, and so you should always lead by honesty and integrity,” the political science major said. “Secondly, base your decision on where you want to work on the [organization’s] culture, because if you have a company where you like the people, you’re going to want to stay there.”

In 2005, the Alumni Council Executive Board commissioned a task force to discuss national research about female students’ diminished self-esteem and declining participation in leadership roles in campus programs. To help raise confidence in female students, the Council for IWU Women was created in 2006.

Biology major Katie Stapleton ’16, who attended the summit for first time, said she discovered firsthand the significance of the Illinois Wesleyan bond.

“The importance of having Wesleyan connections and knowing people in different fields, and knowing that we have the opportunity to reach out to those people,” she said. “They can help us reach our future goals and endeavors.” 

By Tia Patsavas ’16