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Ever since the 2016 election, there has been a spark in women across the country to get more involved. The first example of this happened the day after President Trump’s inauguration. The first Women’s March happened in Washington D.C., all around the country and world, breaking records for one of the largest protests in history. This initiated the movement of women getting more involved in politics and gave them more opportunity for leadership roles.

 

According to NPR the amount of women running for Congress has doubled this midterm season since 2016 going from 163 women to 309 this election season. According to Politico, there’s a total of at least 575 running not only for the House but Senate and governor as well. This not only accounts for women running for government positions but also for local college campuses. More women are choosing to take leadership roles in their different organizations that they are involved in. Erin Esterson, a junior criminology and criminal justice major with a minor in human development, is one of them.

 

One of the organizations that Esterson is currently a member of is a greek social organization, Zeta Tau Alpha and is their current Director of Fraternity Education and their representative for IFC/PHA Judicial board.

 

(Katie Fisher/Facebook.com)

 

“I plan activities for the chapter so they can be reminded of our values,” Esterson said. “And what about ZTA brings us together.”

 

She later explained to me exactly what someone on the Judicial board does.

 

“So there is a member from each sorority and fraternity, and we rule on things when the social policies of the university are violated by Greek Organizations,” Esterson said. “I sort of serve as a deciding factor in how long their social moratorium will last or how much their fine should be, based on different offenses. So it’s really interesting. And it’s exactly what I want to do with my life, so it’s really cool.”

 

Esterson also spends her time giving tours for the campus tour guide group Maryland Images. Additionally, she works at the Visitor Center as a student welcomer and tour guide, offering tours to elementary and middle school students and getting paid to do so. Esterson explained her love for both and the differences between the two.

 

“The tours for the elementary and middle school students is sort of just giving them the idea of what higher education looks like, what a college campus is and just what college life is like,” she said. “Whereas an images tours are prospective students, so it’s admission statistics, more about campus life, especially freshman campus life. So it is a dual edge sword, so I get to sort of play both, so that is sort of fun.”

 

Her true love and passion have been getting involved in Terp Thon, the 12-hour dance marathon that raises money for Children’s National Hospital in Washington D.C.

 

“I’m on Terp Thon planning team. I am the captain of the Morale Committee. So there is an executive chair, and I am still a member of Terp Thon Planning Team (TTPT)  at-large, but I also kind of act as his right-hand man,” Esterson said.

 

(Preet Mandavia/aliographics.com)

 

“My position is the Choreographic Captain, so I basically am going to choreograph the entire ten-minute dance for Terp Thon in the spring, which is really exciting. There are other captains of other committees, we have a programming subcommittee, we have a stewardship subcommittee, so they do like TTPT members of the month like they do other things that I am not as involved in because I am the choreography person.”

 

Esterson heard about Terp Thon and gained interest in it after someone gave a speech about it in her COMM107 class freshman year, but by the time that rolled around, it was too late for her to sign up to be a part of a team for that Terp Thon.

 

“I had to wait till the following semester, after my first dance marathon and it was like, I saw exactly what I wanted to do, people dancing up on stage, and I immediately applied. So I joined that spring of my freshman year, and I never looked back.,” Esterson said.  

 

When I asked her why she is involved in so many things on campus, she explained how it brought her out of her shell and opened her up to new ideas.

 

“I think for me especially, and I always preach this on my tours, is that you can make a big school smaller, but you can’t make a small school bigger. So I have found a bunch of communities that I can call home. I like finding new communities, and sometimes that might be spreading myself a little too thin, but I find it so important to get involved and to find those communities and to find your people, because I feel like there are very specific personalities in each of these things that I’m involved in and sometimes it’s a lot to just hang out with one group of people for a lot of the time, so I feel like by forcing myself to balance my time I’m meeting so many new people.”

 

She also expressed how getting involved in so many things is helping her for her future.

 

“I’m networking, making connections I wouldn’t have been able to do anywhere else. I have the opportunity, to honestly do things that are going to help me in my career, that’s not an internship opportunity, but great for my resume, Esterson said. “It also is so awesome to have a say in how organizations are run and just being a part of something bigger than yourself and having the opportunity to plan things.

 

For her, being a woman is not what influences her to get involved in so many things and take so many roles, but comes in addition to her not only proving to the people around her that women can do all this, but she as an individual can do it all.

 

“I think a lot of it is not so much proving people wrong, but proving to people that I can, and proving to myself that I can,” Esterson said. “I think being in college and having this experience that I know I’m never going to have these opportunities again and I am never going to be able to come back and do that so I want to do as much as I can and get as involved as much as I can while I’m still here. So I feel like leaving a mark, especially as a woman, is important.”

 

She also said how in this current political climate, showing her face as a leader she feels is super important and she feels empowered when she has other women leading beside her.

 

“I think a lot of the organizations that I am a part of and have leadership positions in, there are plenty of other women that also do,” Esterson said.  “It is awesome to have that separate community of female leaders within the overall community of the organization. That is a really great resource to have and that support is important.”

 

When asked what the most rewarding part of being involved in so many things, she couldn’t just pick one.

 

“They all have their own little victories. When I give tours in the spring more often kids are coming to make their final decisions and a few times after tours kids have said ‘thanks for your tour, I’m going to commit right now,’ and I have literally burst into tears and have said ‘thank you for telling me, this is a beautiful moment’. So those are super rewarding because I know that it is my words and my stories that I put out there that made this kid decide to come here and love it as much as I do.”

 

“Terp Thon too, seeing the smiles on the kids faces, seeing the impact directly that we are making on the Children’s National Hospital in D.C. We’ve got a wing, we’ve got the Terp Thon bear station where nurses rest, like we have a lasting mark on the hospital itself and the children and their families, and it’s really awesome. A lot of our events the miracle families will come too. So it is awesome to have a lasting relationship with the kids like they know who we are, they know how much we do to give back, and it is so rewarding to see that from that perspective.”

 

Hannah Dalsheim

Maryland '20

Junior at University of Maryland. Dog Obsessed.
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