Category Archives: News & Views

Students Lean In with the IWL

Lean In Circles are monthly gatherings offering motivation, learning, support and connections with other female students in a supportive, open environment. Lean in Circles are held worldwide with women of all ages.

The idea was based on the book Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg. In order to appeal to our audience of college students, we have paired an activity with our topic of discussion. We’ve found this has promoted our attendance and fostered the discussion.

Last Semester we held four Lean In Circles.

September’s Topic: Goal Setting,  Activity: Goal Cork Boards  Septemeber

October’s Topic: Stress Management, Activity: Terrariums October

November’s Topic/Activity: Group Think-tank
Panel members were invited to bring a male counterpart to brainstorm IWL initiatives and events to involve male students and gain a male perspective on the current initiatives and events the IWL has planned.

December’s Topic: Work-Life Balance, Activity: Ornaments December

This semester we have an additional four Lean In Circles planned.

Student Lean In Circle January Invitation



Topic: Reset Your Mindset

Activity: Heat Packs


Student Lean In Circle February Invitation



Topic: Group Think-tank

Female guests are invited to bring a male counterpart to brainstorm IWL initiatives and events to involve male students and gain a male perspective on the current initiatives and events the IWL has planned.Student Lean In Circle March Invitation


Topic: Sexual Harassment

Activity: Hand ScrubStudent Lean In Circle April Invitation




Topic: Feminism

Activity: Painted Glassware

IWL Through the Eyes of First-Year Panelists

FullSizeRenderFall Semester 2017 was certainly new for the IWL. A new Director, Programming Coordinator, and Panel braved the New Year. Here, we’ve described the events we held this semester through the eyes of our panelists.

Lean In Circles:

We held four Student Lean In Circles this semester incorporating activities to foster the conversation around our topics. To discuss goal setting as a kickoff to the semester in September, we created corkboards. As a stress relief activity during midterms, we created terrariums in October to remind students stress management is important. In November, we asked our panelists to bring a male friend for a Think-tank Lean In brainstorming how to get males involved in the conversation. To wrap up the semester, we discussed work-life balance, an issue faced by students in the midst of exams, while making ornaments in light of the holiday.

“The activities enable students to engage in the conversations. We aim to pair the activity to further drive the topic. Its improved the participation of students in the monthly gatherings. I look forward to what we come up with for next semester.” –Rachael Fassnacht, Programming Coordinator

Conversation Projects:

We held three conversation projects with guests including an Author and Delegate of several U.S. State Department–led entrepreneurship missions, Social Worker providing court ordered treatment, Manager in the Court System, and an Assistant Director of Culture and Talent.

Jennifer Kushell was very inspiring during her visit at the IWL suite, she herself very welcome and allowed us to pick her brain. We chatted up making it big even if you have nothing, taking care of yourself even if you’re on a constant schedule that does not stop. She made us feel as though with or without a business degree, with or without a relationship and especially without the promised word of the world we can be as successful and happy as the next millionaire women if we just keep rooting for ourselves.” –Patricia Loudior ‘20

Awareness Events:

During the fall semester, two national awareness days occurred which we held events for highlighting the wage gap and demand for equal pay for equal work for Native Pacific and Latina Women.

“The awareness events are meant to provide a consistent presence on campus to touch on important topics.  I want the Nichols community to understand the challenges that women face.  The hope is this information can be a catalyst to change.” –Rachel Ferreira, Director of the Institute for Women’s Leadership

First-Year Student Dinner:

We hosted a get-to-know-you catered dinner for all first year females.

“The First-Year Student Dinner was really my first opportunity to introduce IWL to our incoming female students.  I put pressure on myself to create a presentation that would wow our incoming female students and get them to be excited to be involved.  What ended up happening was that our first year students sat at a table with strong female student leaders on campus and that was where the magic happened.  I am always to amazed the impact our students have on each other and on me.  We talked a lot about the wage gap and the issues that are facing women today.  However, the young women at Nichols didn’t need convincing and many of the first year students in attendance applied to be a part of the panel.  Another great addition were the number of staff and faculty that were in attendance including President Engelkemeyer, coaching staff, advisors, professors, etc.  For first year students to have the opportunity to meet these women was another perfect addition to the night.” –Rachel Ferreira, Director of the Institute for Women’s Leadership

College Connection Mentoring Program Part I:

This was our third-annual College Connection Program in partnership with Barttlet High School. Our panelists spent the day mentoring the high school juniors and seniors on: visioning their future, networking and assertive communication.

“My favorite event would have to be the College Connection Part I. I met a lot of great high school students, and many of them had big aspirations for the future. It was inspiring to hear about their goals and their visions for after graduation. I am excited to see them again in the spring semester” –Megan Nathanson ‘20

“College Connection was important and memorable for me because it involved younger women continuing their education, which is who we all currently are. Considering the fact that I never thought I would even be at college myself, I tend to make sure these girls at least leave with an idea of what they want to be after high school. The girls talked about military life, potential majors and one of them recently just got accepted to Nichols, congratulations to Tiana! I’m glad college connection left a life changing mark on these young girls.” –Patricia Louidor ‘20

IWL Attends Largest Women’s Conference in the U.S.

The 2018 Massachusetts Conference for Women
By Rachael Fassnacht ’17, IWL Programming Coordinator


A group of eight students represented Nichols College at the largest women’s conference in the country this December in Boston. The 13th annual conference consisted of keynote speakers Viola Davis and Meryl Streep in addition to female icons such as Gloria Steinem and Diane Von Furstenberg as well as breakout sessions led by experts on issues that impact women. Mayor Marty Walsh and Governor Charlie Baker spoke to the accomplishments of Boston and Massachusetts regarding women’s empowerment. The exhibit hall hosted a variety of pavilions including a Women-Owned Business Marketplace. Our attendees gave testimony on their experience at the 2018 Conference.

“The Massachusetts Conference for Women was one of my first and I knew from the moment that I walked in it would be life-changing. There were so many notable speakers like Viola Davis, Meryl Streep and some of my local favorites like State Street and Etsy.IMG_7108 There were small shops with women selling tiny things like scarves to innovations that could change the lives of women everywhere. The atmosphere felt very close-knit and united; I felt like everyone was there to better the women around them even the ones they did not know yet.” –Patricia Louidor ‘20

“This was my first year attending the Massachusetts Conference for Women and it was more impactful than I could have imagined. Besides the fact that there were famous names on the agenda, the feeling of being in there with 10,000 other women was hugely impactful.IMG_0947 Viola Davis spoke about what she had overcome in her life and it deeply moved me. Every session that I attended only multiplied the feeling I had while listening to Viola. She spoke about times where she tried to hide from who she is and leave it all behind and how that hurt her (in life and in her career). She spoke about owning every experience, including the terrible ones, to be the truest version of herself and that is something I will not soon forget. Viola concluded that if every woman could own every part of themselves and not internalize negativity, there would be no shame. And then, without shame, women will not be stopped. I absolutely loved every minute of the day.” –Rachel Ferreira, Director of the Institute for Women’s Leadership

“It was my first time attending the Massachusetts Conference for Women and I was impressed with the wonderful keynote speakers and the participants. My favorite speakers were Viola Davis Captureand Diane Von Furstenberg, I loved their inspirational stories and life lessons that they shared. It was a wonderful day all around, the energy was fantastic and I can’t wait to attend next year!”                       -Marshalee Johnson ‘19

“I am so thankful to have been able to attend the Massachusetts Conference for Women. It was one of the many opportunities that Nichols has provided me with that I wouldn’t otherwise get the chance to experience. The day was filled with inspirational speakers, and I learned a lot. Given the current circumstances and unsettling daily #MeToo social media posts, it was great to be surrounded by such inspiring and empowering women. I was most affected by the energy in the room. There was a feeling of optimism that I have not felt in a while. While people like Gloria Steinem and Meryl Streep Capture.1PNGwere speaking, you could see every woman in the audience hanging on every last word they said, feeling emotional and inspired all at the same time. I could tell that I was experiencing something big, and that it was a moment I should not take for granted. I am happy to say that I left feeling optimistic about what the future holds for women.” -Megan Nathanson ‘20