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Empowered Women Empower Women: Ignite College Council Comes to GSU

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at GSU chapter.

The future is still female.


With the political atmosphere being as clouded as it is, it is always nice to see proactive community engagement take place, especially on the Georgia State University campus. On Wednesday February 15, 2017 the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies conjoined with Ignite College Council to host the Atlanta Political Engagement Breakfast where the keynote speakers were Representative Stacey Abrams who is the House Minority Leader for the Georgia General Assembly and State Representative for the 89th House District and Commissioner Lynette Riley who is a newcomer to the Department of Revenue from the Georgia General Assembly. Despite their party difference, both women were able to come to one complete conclusion which is the overwhelming fact that women need to be encouraged to pursue politics.



The purpose of Ignite College Council is to encourage younger women to be actively engaged in their communities through various political platforms. In politics there is a common misconception that you have to be a political science major, pre law or public policy major to eventually become involved in the political spectrum. However, from our last presidential election we can see that is the farthest thing from the truth. For women however, that is not always the case because of societal restrictions, preconceived notions and the thought of what women “should” and “should not” be. Breaking the glass ceiling into the political arena is a difficult feat and one that comes with plenty of name calling a labeling, but the benefits reaped from it tend to lead more effective change.  


But what is this change?


Aside from the obvious changes in things such as laws, legislation and potential bills passed there is often a change in the way women see themselves. Many of the questions and comments made were not necessarily about the tangible process of being a woman in a traditionally white male dominated area. To some shock, the questions were more on the lines of creating and maintaining confidence when living the political life as a woman. Naturally women are more prone to caring, nurturing and balancing several things at once, however, when it comes to politics we are often counted out and told that “a woman’s place is in the kitchen”.



During this entire breakfast, Abrams and Riley fired back on those societal titles to not only encourage women but to give real life facts in the reality of the political world. “It is not only preparing running for office, but it’s making certain you understand the path can be tricky but it’s very doable”, Abrams said. Stacey answered this in response to an attendee who wondered how she and Lynette trucked through to their current positions without seemingly breaking a sweat. What was gathered was that no one path is perfect and to make effective change you have to be okay with being yourself.


That is where the ever pondering confidence factor came in. To many who aspire to be these great politicians there is a misunderstanding that you have to put on a facade to get to where you want to be. While that may work for some, the lasting change comes in when you inspire others to be themselves the way you have. Another large aspect is the political trust. Who trusts you to run for their livelihood? Have you gained enough repertoire for someone to put their funds and hope into what you can make happen? Or have you gotten involved in areas that you without a doubt can advocate for? “The full responsibility is for you to decide where you fit, do not run for the state legislature if your concern is potholes, do not run for school board when you want to be in the senate and you want to deal with state issues”, Abrams said. “Make certain you understand what the job does.”



So let’s say that you have many causes that you care about but they all have one central theme that you can zero in on. Manifesting your advocacy for that one thing is what will aid in you changing the way your legal system operates. Ultimately it all starts with you and knowing what it is that you want to successfully execute. “Many times people run for something because it’s an open seat and not because they want that job”, Abrams said. “It is important to run for the job you want because otherwise you’re going to be miserable and you’re not going to do the job well.” Another trinket of advice that matched up well with this is that believing that your voice needs to be heard. As twenty-somethings we often feels as though we are not ready or that we do not have enough accolades to accomplish what those before us have. Newsflash, there is no perfect or right time to anything! The best time create change is now.


In many cases the role that you look forward to playing will be larger than the title that you actually have. This is important in leadership because you truly have to search beyond yourself to see the full picture of what change looks like. When working in politics you have to remember that you are not just fighting for yourself, but you are fighting for everyone that faces something that makes them different. Ignite College Council makes this a very important aspect of their program not just because they are non-partisan but because they believe that every girl has a voice.



However, when it comes to trying to facilitate that change in the atmosphere you may be a little lost and overwhelmed by all that is to come. “Take small bites”, Riley said. “Do your research and make sure that you have your facts in place.” This is important because it is often seen that we think we know what to do when in reality everything takes preparation and a little research to fully understand. By recommendation, Abrams suggests that taking a look into past movements is what can “perfect” your political strategy. Looking into what successfully worked and what caused a movement to fail are both useful tips in regards to taking the first few steps.


Feeling inspired yet? If so then decide what or who you want to fight for! Stand in complete solidarity with the issue and begin to positively use your resources to make sure that the change happens. For more info on Ignite College Council visit their website www.ignitenational.org and use their hashtag #DeclareYourAmbition to tell the world what you will do to ensure that change.

Cydney Maria (Rhines) is a creative writer, journalist and photographer located in Atlanta, Ga. She is currently a student at Georgia State University studying journalism and english. She coins her brand as something curated beautifully for those who may not feel that beauty. Her main focus is mental health, social issues, digital design and of course the beauty of black girl magic. Her main goal is to constantly write creative content that fills a need. She is currently published accross multiple platforms and looks to continue her current level of work after she graduates from GSU. Check this creative out!
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