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Women’s History for Women’s Future Events promote empowerment

Mass communication junior Brenda Salinas poses for a picture with the name of the woman who inspires her during the Women’s Day event in the Student Union on March 8. GABRIEL MATA / THE RIDER

“Mi mamá, Francisca Alonso,” reads the dry- erase board that Mexican American studies major Abraham Diaz held up in the picture posted to the UTRGV Student Life Facebook page. This post is part the “Women Who Inspire” social media campaign for Women’s History Month, which encouraged students to share the name of a powerful woman in their lives to promote the idea that every woman is powerful in her own way.

Along with the social media campaign, UTRGV Student Involvement departments collaborated to honor the traditions of Women’s History Month with several events on both campuses that aim to empower and inspire the young women of UTRGV.

Yaribel Caraveo, program coordinator for Leadership and Social Change, and Raul Leal, Student Organizations’ program specialist, organized events that would be relevant to UTRGV students’ interests by providing opportunities to learn from successful women on a personal and professional level.

“We feel it is important to encourage them to follow their dreams and that there is no obstacle in their path that can stop them from doing whatever it is they’d like to do with their life.”

At both campuses there will be an opportunity for students to have dinner and engage in conversation with faculty and administration.The first event taking place this week is “Having It All? Dinner with Professors at UTRGV” at 6 p.m. Wednesday in the University Center Ballroom on the Edinburg campus. At this dinner there will be several tables of six in which guest speakers will share their experiences as women with a Ph.D. and their journey to achieving successful careers.

On the Brownsville campus, the “Women’s Leadership Luncheon” will be held from 12:15 to 1:30 p.m. Wednesday in Salón Cassia and will feature guest speaker Juliet V. García, executive director of the University of Texas Americas Institute and former UT Brownsville president.

The UT System announced March 9 that García will join the system as senior adviser to the chancellor for community, national and global engagement. She will work “as an ambassador, participating with leaders and organizations throughout Texas, the nation and internationally to convey, clarify and advocate for the UT System and the chancellor’s priorities,” according to a system news release.

Leal said many students may not fully understand the full scale of possibilities that are available to them and that setting up the opportunity to discuss this with successful women leaders can inspire great things.

“As an undergraduate student I would see all these people out in the community doing all these amazing things and I wouldn’t picture myself as being one of those individuals,” Leal said. “It’s not until you get that one-on-one interaction and see maybe their struggles and their story is similar to yours and they’re successful, so it can help you to see yourself in those roles as well.”

For book lovers, there will be a discussion of “The Woman Who Would Be King: Hatshepsut’s Rise to Power in Ancient Egypt,” a biography of the longest-reigning female pharaoh, written by Kara Cooney.Twenty-five free copies of the book will be given out to attendees. This event takes place at 5 p.m. Friday in the University Center Cenizo Room on the Edinburg campus.

The Edinburg campus is also hosting the Women’s Leadership Panel at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the University Center Ballroom. This event will feature many successful women from different professions
throughout the Rio Grande Valley.The speakers will discuss their approach to different leadership styles, challenges they have faced as professional women, local culture and advice for future community leaders.

The last event organized in honor of Women’s History Month is the Self-Defense Course, taking place at the Casa Bella Clubhouse on the Brownsville campus. Police Training Officer Antonio Zarzoza will teach young women how to stay safe and defend themselves.The training will be informal and hands-on. Comfortable clothing is recommended. The time and date are to be announced.

“We have tried to organize an event that will appeal to the interests of every kind of student,” Leal said.“We really encourage them to take advantage of these events so that they can really make the most out of the experience.

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