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While we know that strides have been made, women still face considerable social, workforce, economic and political challenges of disparity and inequity. Yet I’m excited to say that Olivet College is leading a movement to address the gender gap in today’s workforce.

I believe we, as women, need to do a better job at supporting other women. Too often we tear each other down; instead we should be building each other up, encouraging one another to succeed.

I have always believed in empowering and supporting young women, from my days as a collegiate volleyball coach, to working with young ladies in club volleyball and our students here at Olivet College. Too often I see high achieving, smart, gifted young ladies that have the world at their feet, doubt and question themselves and their capabilities, when they should believe they are capable of anything!

This is truly why I believe in the power of mentorship in developing the women leaders of tomorrow. Mentors play an extraordinarily important role in galvanizing a young woman to aspire to great accomplishments. 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.

In an effort to address this issue head on, Olivet College established the Women’s Leadership Institute (WLI) to create a culture of women supporting women on campus and beyond. This came on the heels of a hugely successful inaugural Cultivating Women Leaders (CWL) event in March 2017 bringing hundreds of female high school students and Olivet College students, staff, faculty and alumnae together for a day-long, interactive leadership training event.

In addition to a second annual CWL event, scheduled for March 2, a year-long women’s leadership development program in collaboration with ATHENA International was developed, targeting current Olivet College students. We are very fortunate to be able to provide this specialized programming utilizing ATHENA International’s well-recognized Leadership Model to our students. The young ladies going through our program are receiving the building blocks for success in today’s global society while gleaning from some of Michigan’s most dynamic women leaders.

As students complete our program, they will be given opportunities to take what they’ve learned and mentor other girls and young women in middle and high school during a two-day summer WLI girls’ leadership camp to be hosted at Olivet College. In essence, Olivet College is creating multiple levels of “Ment-Hers.”

I would have given anything to have this level of leadership development in my day. Not to mention the networking and possible job opportunities that come from being involved in this institute. We are giving girls and young women the knowledge necessary so that they can be informed and prepared, in hopes that they won’t have to endure the challenges faced by those that have gone before them, or at least be prepared and have the tools to professionally advocate for themselves and others when it comes to issues that they will face in their careers.

Traci Corey, director

Olivet College Women’s Leadership Institute

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