INSTITUTE ANTICIPATED TO CREATE TRAJECTORY FROM PAST TO PRESENT AND FUTURE WOMEN LEADERS
While strides have been made, Olivet College recognizes that women still face considerable social, workforce, economic and political challenges of disparity and inequity. The college’s longstanding history of empowering young women began nearly 175 years ago, when its founders started admitting women and people of color on a coequal basis as men.
Acknowledging that more work needs to be done, Olivet College formed the Women’s Leadership Institute (WLI) to create a culture of women supporting women on campus and beyond. In collaboration with ATHENA International, a well-recognized women’s leadership organization, Olivet College is providing a yearlong leadership development program for eligible female students at Olivet College; participants will receive leadership training utilizing the ATHENA International Leadership Model. The WLI began in October 2017 with 39 enrolled students.
“This program serves as a connection point for our incoming freshmen, sophomores and transfer women students to engage with each other on campus,” said Traci Corey, presidential spouse at Olivet College and director of the Women’s Leadership Institute. “Through this multiyear program, our hope is for these young women to become mentors that can take what they’ve learned and apply it in the relationships they have with each other and be able to teach it to the next generation of high school and middle school girls. The knowledge these women gain will go with them into their careers and life.”
The WLI was developed because of a hugely successful Cultivating Women Leaders (CWL) event on March 3, 2017. The inaugural event brought more than 250 female high school students and Olivet College students, staff, faculty and alumnae together for a day-long, interactive leadership training event. In fact, 30 percent of CWL’s prospective student attendees began their college career at Olivet College in the fall of 2017. To stay true to its rich heritage, Olivet College plans to continue to grow its women’s enrollment. Over the next five years, the WLI will play a major role in increasing the total women’s enrollment to 50 percent of the overall student body.
Research shows that exposure to positive messages early and often about leadership, and understanding how to make informed decisions about their future as potential leaders, is critical to the success of young girls. The WLI will provide a unique, fully immersive relationship-based leadership experience that will enable young women to gain the insight, self-awareness and effective communication skills necessary to become visionary leaders, while gleaning from some of Michigan’s most dynamic women leaders.
On Friday, March 2, Olivet College will host its second annual Cultivating Women Leaders: Pioneering the Future. The keynote will be Martha Mayhood Mertz, founder of ATHENA International and author of “Becoming ATHENA: Eight Principles of Enlightened Leadership.”