What It Was Like to Organize SUNY Oswego's First Ever Women in Leadership Conference

On March 12, 2019, our chapter of Her Campus collaborated with SUNY Oswego’s Women’s Center and Student Association to put on the first ever Women in Leadership Conference and Dinner. It was simultaneously the most rewarding and stressful experience of my college career.

To back up, our chapter first started discussing executing an event like this way back in November of 2018. My former co-CC, Katie Short, randomly came up with the idea and excitedly messaged us about it and the hundreds of possibilities that could come along with it. From the start, we were both impressed and thrilled by the thought of hosting something as empowering as a Women in Leadership conference, but we knew it would be an overwhelming feat.

After Katie and a few of our other members graduated in December, the concept slipped through the cracks. Our organization returned in January, this time with new writers, editors, social media managers and an even a new co-president. When it was brought up at our first meeting of the semester, everyone seemed motivated yet again -- we were enthralled by leaving our mark on this campus and wanted to create something that had never been done before. So, the planning process began.

At first, our ideas were very scrambled. We weren’t exactly sure of the setting or how we would go about everything, but we had the concept down. We wanted to a host an evening celebrating local women (professors, students, business owners, etc.) and the roles they obtain. We wanted to invite inspiring women from all over campus and even raffle off baskets in order to donate money to a local women’s shelter.

I contacted clubs, sports teams, and organizations and received an overwhelming amount of enthusiasm. Eventually, the Women’s Center replied to my email, explaining that they were currently planning a very similar event and would love to collaborate with us. From there, things kicked into high gear -- our members were meeting with the Women’s Center and Student Association, we were planning and taking notes every moment we could, and, with a date set, we knew our time was limited. We weren’t only doing this to make an impact on campus, but we wanted to honor the women that inspired us.

As the date approached, things only got even more stressful. The Women’s Center was busy booking panelists and food, Student Association was doing everything they could to promote and support us, and Her Campus was spending far too much money on decorations and supplies. When the time finally came, it felt as though we were gearing up for a marathon we were only just beginning to run. I admit I was overcome with a thousand different emotions when I finally walked into Sheldon Ballroom that evening -- our ideas and hard work were coming to fruition, yet this was just the beginning.

I tried to soak up every moment of the three-hour event, but it was a bit more difficult than I had anticipated. Melissa Wilson, the general manager of WTOP-10, moderated a panel consisting of Black Beauties President Jequana Johnson, Women’s Rugby President Sabrina Shortall, Association of Black Psychologists Vice President Elisa Descartes, WTOP-10 Vice President of Human Resources Boni Quatroche, Kristi Eck, chief of staff to President Deborah Stanley, and Pamela Caraccioli, deputy to the president for external partnerships and economic development. President Deborah Stanley made an appearance, Student Association President Omar van Reenan signed the Equal Pay for Equal Play bill, and members of my Her Campus Oswego team hosted, sold raffle tickets, and announced winners.

At the end of the night, I was exhausted. The two-month long planning process and ongoing stress and anxiety had, oddly enough, been worth it, though. Our chapter had been a part of a historical and empowering event on campus, and it ended up being one of the many highlights of my college career. As I gear up to leave SUNY Oswego, I will never forget the overwhelming proudness I felt as I exited Sheldon that night.