Life Choices, Our Voices: Colgate Women Talk

On Saturday, September 17, Colgate will hold a women’s summit called “Life Choices, Our Voices: Colgate Women Talk.” What began as an idea to connect Colgate alumni with students has turned into a day-long conference. It will bring several alumnae back to campus to share their experiences as women in various life settings.

The original idea for Saturday’s event came up more than a year ago at a meeting of Colgate alumni, administrators and faculty members.

“The idea came out of a Board of Trustees meeting a year and a half ago,” Class of 1980 alumna Marianne Crosley said. “It just seemed that there should be a better way to connect alumnae with students on campus. [The women’s summit] seemed like a wonderful opportunity and a way to bring alumnae back to Hamilton.”

Crosley, the alumnae connection for the “Summer in the Cuyahoga” internship program provided to Colgate students, was a driving factor behind this year’s women’s summit. The initial idea was passed on to Dean of the College Adam Weinberg, the Office of Alumni Affairs, and to other offices on campus.

The Center for Career Services, Center for Women’s Studies, Center for Leadership and Student Involvement (CLSI), many alumnae, current Colgate students, and the Office of Alumni Affairs have all helped to organize the event.

“It was the epitome of a campus wide collaboration,” Assistant Director of Alumni Affairs Claire Putzeys said.

The women’s summit will include a lunch with President of the University Rebecca Chopp, anetworking reception and six different panel discussions. Each panel will have approximately seven alumna speakers who will share their experiences on a certain topic. There will be a variety of panel topics, including “Balancing your Life,” “Networking,” “Careers” and “Sexual Climate On- and Off-Campus.”

Putzey explained how the panel topics were chosen.

“We met with about 30 students in the spring over lunch and dinner and we asked what they hoped to get out of [the women’s summit.]” she said. “The reason alumnae were so willing to come back and take time out of their busy schedule [for the summit] is because they wish that they would have had someone who would have told them these things [about women’s lives and issues].”

The conference is dependent on alumni involvement and support. During the preliminary phases of alumnae search, 105 Colgate alumnae were invited to come to campus and speak. Although the target number for responses was thirty, the Office of Alumni Affairs received well over the targeted number of responses and could accommodate only a portion of those who showed interest.

Fourty-two alumnae, including Marianne Crosley, will be in attendance at the conference on Saturday. Alumnae graduation years range from 1973 to 2003. Their current occupations range from choreographers to vice-presidents of consulting firms, history professors to authors. The stage is set for diverse and interesting dialogs and conversations.

“An overall goal [of the summit] is for students to be open to different pasts and to put things in perspective for themselves,” Assistant Director of CLSI Catherine Regan said. “I can say things, students can say things, people who work at Colgate can say things, but hearing it from someone who went through the same thing could really deliver the message and confidence students need.”

“Often students feel a little reluctant and hesitant to speak with alumni,” Crosley said. “They should feel comfortable to interact with them and follow up with them in the future because alumni love that. My goal is to develop conversations and friendship between current students and current alumna in a comfortable environment so they can share experiences and advice.”

Coordinators are hoping that the conference will benefit students and indicate to alumni that they are welcome on campus.

“We want alumnae to feel more engaged and connected to campus,” said Putzeys. “It is a great opportunity [for students] to connect with alumnae. I think it’s also a great opportunity for students to know an alumna one on one and form a mentorship.”

The summit is open to both men and women.

“I think it’s awesome that there are men who are interested in the issues that women go through,” Putzeys said.

“The women’s summit is not excluding men,” Regan said. “However, a lot of the issues are geared more toward women.”Anyone interested in attending should contact Putzeys or check in at Little Hall on Saturday between 9 and 10 a.m.