Resourceful Women’s Conference 2016

RWC Poster 2016

Jane Hibbard Idema Women’s Studies Center

Story by Zoë Gipson, Reporter
Photo courtesy of

Join AQ’s Jane Hibbard Idema Women’s Studies Center on March 19 for the Resourceful Women’s Conference, beginning at 9am and ending at 5pm, for a day filled with speakers and presentations about women, gender, and identity from all different perspectives. This free conference will take place in the Donnelly Center and includes a luncheon. Everyone involved has been eager to share about the Conference; not only about the keynote speaker, Community leader and Kent County Chief Judge, Sara Smolenski, but also to speak about the undergraduate research and mentoring happening at Aquinas College.

Across campus, leaders have been working hard to pull this incredible event together. Not only Dr. Amy Dunham Strand, the Director of the Women’s Studies Center and her intern senior Ellyse Vanderkamp have been working hard, but Dr. Penny Avery, the Chair of the Communication department and Susan Ponischil, our Access Services Librarian, are co-Chairs of the conference. The theme of this year’s RWC is “Mentorship,” which means that Judge Smolenski will be sharing her experiences with mentorship in her presentation, “Here Comes the Judge: One Woman’s Journey to Judicial Office.”

Vanderkamp was excited to explain the uniqueness of the conference, pointing out that, “it is a way to share perspective on women, gender, and identity, as it relates to culture, both domestically and internationally.”

Dr. Dunham Strand added that the RWC is not strictly about a single discipline, but clarified that it “reflects, in condensed, one-day form, the multidisciplinary nature of work in Women’s Studies — that work on women’s and gender issues appears across various departments and programs.”

And reflecting the multifaceted nature of the conference, student presentations vary from disciplines like Art, Creative Writing, Literary Studies, and Humanities; to Dance, Political Science, Psychology, and Women’s Studies. Topics will include photography, poetry, original choreography, analyses of gender in literature, and research on prostitution, Title IX, identity formation, and oral history. Undergraduate students had to submit proposals by the end of January, and approved submissions were matched with a faculty mentor. Dr. Dunham Strand explained that this is a great opportunity, “to develop a project for presentation to a wider, collegial audience. Students gain an experience of moving their work from a classroom paper to a conference presentation.”

The RWC maybe new news to you, but this biennial conference first began almost twenty years ago. The first Resourceful Women’s Conference was held in honor of Women’s History Month on March 22, 1997. The first organizers hoped to provide a venue for students to present undergraduate research and creative writing in an academically-rigorous but also collegial environment – an atmosphere designed to help students develop as critical thinkers, effective communicators, and advocates for gender equality. This year’s RWC is an all day event, and includes a complimentary lunch for attendees. Since schedules don’t always allow for all day commitment, attendees are welcome for any portion of the day’s events. The conference is free and open to staff, faculty, students, and community members, and any interested attendees should check the Women’s Studies website for more information about the day’s program and about registration.

We’ll see you on March 19 in the Donnelly Center for a day of mentorships and focus on Women’s Studies and education!



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