Through Her Campus Utah’s initiative to highlight powerful women on the University of Utah campus for Women’s History Month, I was lucky enough to interview founder and former president of Her Campus Utah, Julianne Skrivan. Check out her words of wisdom below;
HC: When do you feel most empowered?
JS: I, oddly enough, feel most empowered during meetings with other student leaders on an array of topics. I love working together with other people, and see a finished product come out of our meeting, or leave with ideas of how to solve a problem. I love that feeling and that collaboration. Independently, however, I have a list of goals for 2018—little goals like seeing 12 classic movies I haven’t seen, reading the entire Bible, going to a new museum each month—and every time I check off one of those little mile markers, I’m really excited.
HC: What groups or clubs are you associated with?
JS: Since my time at the U is coming to a close so soon, I’ve wrapped up a lot of responsibilities with different organizations. However, within my time as a student I’ve been affiliated with the Beehive Honor Society, Her Campus (tbt when I was the President), Panhellenic Council, Alpha Phi Sorority, ASUU, American Heart Association, It’s On Us and Civic Nation, PRSSA (Public Relations Student Society of America), Student Media Council, Fine Arts Council, Red Butte Garden, The Daily Utah Chronicle, and I studied abroad with the Theatre Department in London.
HC: What would you consider your greatest accomplishment?
JS: That’s a difficult question to answer, but if you ask my parents, my greatest accomplishment in my college career is passing Math 1050, even if it took me three times. I would say it’s the formation of an O.J. Simpson Book Club, but really, accomplishments are dependent on who is weighing them.
HC: What makes you proud to be a woman?
JS: Wow, that’s a huge question. I think I’m proudest of womanhood (inclusive of all people who identify as a woman) when we mentor and lead others. I have incredible women role-models who have truly pushed me in all areas of my life to be better and think bolder, and it’s been an honor to mentor a few other younger women throughout college. That’s what I’m proud of, as you climb up the mountains, making the pathway easier for those who are following, and making sure you’re reaching out to others who have walked the same path.
HC: What advice would you go back and give to the younger version of yourself?
JS: I would tell myself that it’s okay to fail. I have a huge fear of failure which I think is very normal, especially for millennials, but I would want to tell myself that nobody thinks of your failures nearly as much as you do, so it’s okay for you to give yourself slack and try things even if you know you won’t be good at them.
HC: What does it mean to be a woman in this political climate?
JS: Well, I think it means recognizing what is happening in the moment and reacting in a way that sets up future generations of women to be bigger, bolder, and louder than ever before. I think it means realizing the tides have changed and being ready to step up and say, “I can do this,” or “I know of a woman that can do this,” in order to change laws, be heard, and continue the conversations that are being held. I think, now more than ever, womanhood is fluid, and it means whatever each individual woman wants it to mean, which is incredibly powerful in and of itself.
HC: If you had to describe yourself in three words what would they be, and why?
JS: Ambitious—I think this is a mindset to have in every element of life, and to be a risk-taker even when you are afraid. Sister—my siblings, and even the people I hold closet to me, recognize that this role is the most important one to me, being someone people can go to even if we have disagreements is really crucial to me. Student—not even just as a really proud Ute, but I want to continue learning, I never want to stop because I have my degrees or whatever, I want to be a permanent student of everything this world can offer.
HC: What is one life lesson you want to share with all the women in your life?
JS: Nobody thinks about you nearly as much as you think about yourself. I used to scrutinize myself over what I believed other people thought, and then I realized that everyone has their own issues, people, and passions, and they’re not too concerned with what I’m doing or believing or feeling. Breathe.
HC: What is the thing that makes you most excited to be alive?
JS: People and making people laugh—especially my family and my best friends. I love making people feel blissfully silly and full of laughter. That’s my favorite thing in the entire world and I would spend my entire life working to just make people laugh.
HC: What is the most important goal you want to accomplish in your life?
JS: Wow, I haven’t really thought about this. I would say my most important goal in life is to continue learning about all of the different things I’m passionate about—from yoga to politics to serial killers to Taylor Swift songs.
HC: What changes would you like to see for women in the next 10 years?
JS: I would really like for us to stop being taken advantage of in everything we do, and I would really like to see more women in politics, on boards, in academia, in everything. And this needs to be not just white women, it needs to be all women of every race, religion, sexual orientation, etc.
HC: What is the one thing you love the most about yourself?
JS: I love that I am able to thrive under a lot of pressure.
HC: What is the hardest thing about being a woman?
JS: I feel that people are constantly questioning my abilities. I can go into a situation with a great resume, and explain I have the ability to do whatever the task is and that I’m confident in doing so, but I will still be questioned. I think that it’s the hardest part of being a woman for every woman; you’re not automatically an authority on anything—even if you’re an expert on it.
HC: What is your most prized possession?
JS: I have a great planner, but my sister wants me to say that she’s my prized possession.
HC: What is your greatest strength?
JS: I am great in a crisis, as long as the crisis has absolutely nothing to do with any sort of medical issue and I don’t have to see any blood. It also can’t involve any cars because I know nothing about them.
HC: What do you believe are the exclusive strengths of women? What makes the female perspective different than the male perspective?
JS: Well, when you’ve been the “inferior” gender since the existence of time, you learn a lot of lessons and gain a lot of perspective about everything, because your voice hasn’t been as echoed. I think the ability to be a continuous fighter in truly everything, from fighting for motherhood—even your right to decide if you should/shouldn’t be a mother—to fighting for a place at the table of a career you’ve spent your entire life doing is invaluable. A professor at the U told me that the slave always knows more about the world than the master, and I think that has a lot of truth to it.
HC: What legacy do you want to leave behind for women everywhere?
JS: I want to be a woman that others can look at and say, “I don’t want to be her, but I want to be inspired by her.”
HC: What does it mean to you to identify as a woman?
JS: It means that you identify as a woman. Not that you were told at birth you were a girl. Not that you look like a girl. It means you identify as a woman.
HC: What is one misconception about women you wish people understood?
JS: Not all women are the same and not all women have the same beliefs or want the same things.
HC: How are you personally contributing to the women’s movement?
JS: Voting, showcasing women politicians, making sure I’m mentoring other women, buying music from women, seeing movies directed by women, reading books by women, reading articles by women. The little things are important, and so are going to marches, and going to demonstrations.
HC: What changes do you want to make in the women’s movement?
JS: I want it to be more inclusive of all women.
HC: What is the thing that makes you, uniquely Julianne?
JS: Wow, I have no idea, I think the most unique thing about me is that I’m independent, but still need a tribe of women telling me I can do it and that it’ll work out. I haven’t done anything alone or without my friends. And my parents, Joe and Lisa. They’re really the ones who just are the bees knees.
We here at Her Campus Utah think Julianne is the bees knees, too. We are so grateful for the support, wisdom, and unique perspective she has provided to Her Campus Utah through her years of participation. Her prioritization of sisterhood (not just cis-terhood), her activism, leadership, and her huge heart are all things anyone who has met her knows, and admires greatly. Her Campus Utah wants to wish Julianne a happy, happy birthday, and will be sending her love, support, and wishes of success wherever she goes!
All images provided by and reproduced with permission from Julianne Skrivan.