Category Archives: News & Views

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

Welcome To Our 2017-2018 Panel Members!

by Rachael Fassnacht ’17, IWL Program Coordinator


The Institute welcomes four returning and nine new panel members to the 2017-2018 Student Advisory Panel. We are thrilled to introduce them with the quote that inspired them and the reason they were interested to be on the panel. (Missing from photo: Karen Velasco ’19 & Sammi Truong ’19)

Kristina Maxwell ’18

“I am an example of what is possible when girls from the very beginning of their lives are loved and nurtured by people around them. I was surrounded by extraordinary women in my life who taught me about quiet strength and dignity” – Michelle Obama

From Kristina: As a panelist last year, I was able to expand my knowledge of modern day women’s rights issues and learn a lot more about myself as an emerging woman in business. I enjoyed the behind the scenes planning of events, and appreciated the bond that I was able to make with my fellow panelists. I was able to make so many different connections through the IWL sponsored workshops and conversation projects, and being able to assist in planning them was an added pleasure. I was able to learn about and interact with so many different strong women in business as well as many strong female students who taught me how to become a confident and strong woman in the business world.

Isabella Sansone ’18

“True leadership stems from individuality that is honestly and sometimes imperfectly expressed… Leaders should strive for authenticity over perfection.” – Sheryl Sandberg

From Isabella: For the past two years, I have been a member of the IWL Student Advisory Panel where I have been able to learn the challenges that women face in the business world, a male-dominated industry when it comes to achieving leadership positions where a wage gap still exists today. At each and every conversation project I have enjoyed meeting various professional women who are in leadership roles that have defied the odds. I have taken away various useful tips and helpful advice that I can share with myself and others along the way throughout my career.

Sammi Truong ’19

“So we must stand together to resist for we will get what we can take – just that and no more,” -Rose Schneiderman

From Sammi: As a panelist, I’ve learned a lot and participated in many events to help advocate for women’s equality and equal pay. Not only did this club help educate me on the upsetting facts on the inequality in this country towards women, but it made me want to make a difference by influencing and informing people around me about the unfortunate treatment women receive.

Karen Velasco ’19

“Feminism isn’t about making women strong. Women are already strong. It’s about changing the way the world perceives that strength” -G.D. Anderson

From Karen: The experience that the Institute has provided me with has been incredible. We have prepared empowering campus events to raise awareness about women rights and specifically the wage gap. It’s important for women on campus to unite their voices and through events such as the Awareness Week fight for the equality that we as women deserve. It has been important for the institute throughout these years to create an impact on campus and have women join the cause. It is important to me to become part of the Institute for Women’s Leadership each year, because it allows me the ability to voice my opinions and help the other students on the panel to come up with events that will change what people think and lead women to a better future.

Marshalee Johnson ’19

“Change is hard because people overestimate the value of what they have and underestimate the value of what they may gain by giving that up.” -James Belasco and Ralph Stayer Flight of the Buffalo 1994

From Marsha: I would like to be a part of the Institute for Women’s Leadership advisory panel because I am eager for change and want to be a part of a group that’s so much bigger than me. Advocacy is a powerful tool and I want to be a part of a group that advocates for an issue to be paid attention to as that’s often where change starts. If given the opportunity to be a part of this panel I will have access and visibility to women who have ideas of how to go about changing the way women are looked at and treated. When I leave Nichols I can share those experiences and hopefully inspire other women.

Lexxus Andrews ’20

“Power is not given to you, you have to take it.” –Beyoncé

From Lexxus: I’m looking to improve my leadership skills. I’m hoping to better my chances at surviving the Criminal Justice field and I believe the Institute for Women’s Leadership will do that and so much more for myself and the other females on campus. I would also love to be chosen as a panel member to give me an edge and learn more about myself.

Kaylin Goncalves ’20

“Human rights are women’s rights, and women’s rights are human rights. Let us not forget that among those rights are the right to speak freely – and the right to be heard.” -Hillary Clinton

From Kaylin: The Institute for Women’s Leadership would allow me not only to continue to learn more about issues involving women, but would provide me an opportunity to meet with other individuals who would also like to see changes.

Samara Hod ’20

“When the whole world is silent, even one voice becomes powerful.” – Malala Yousafzai

From Samara: If I am selected to be on the Student Advisory Panel for the Institute for Woman’s Leadership, I will not refrain from expressing ideas I have to encourage women everywhere.

Patricia Louidor ’20

“I speak not for myself but for those without voice…those who have fought for their rights…their right to live in peace, their right to be treated with dignity, their right to equality of opportunity, their right to be educated.” –Malala Yousafzai

From Patricia: I am very enthusiastic and eager about applying to the panel because women’s leadership is something that I will always feel passionate about. Last year the IWL events that I attended were very life changing.T hey brought many well-rounded women into my life who genuinely cared about my education and other facets that could keep me stable after college.

Darianaliz Mercado ’20

“I believe in equality. And I believe in no difference between a man and a woman. I even believe that women are more powerful than men.” – Malala Yousfzai

From Darianaliz: When thinking about the Institute for Women’s Leadership I think about the endless opportunities that I must not only become a great leader but also to promote awareness to the issues that women are facing. I want to set a standard for not just my little sister to look up to but to do something that can help me to better myself so I can help others do the same.

Megan Nathanson ’20

“When they go low, we go high” –Michelle Obama

From Megan: I am a big supporter of women’s rights, and am very interested in joining the Student Advisory Panel to encourage the conversation of women’s leadership.

Sophia Prouty ’21

“My father used to tell me to say every morning that today would be a great day. That I can and I will. Well, Dad, I can and I did.”- Gina Rodriguez

From Sophia: I want to be on the panel to help inspire young girls like me to be more confident in themselves and everything that they do, the same way Gina Rodriguez inspired me. I do not just want to say women should be more confident, but I want to inspire them to do so and create great change in the women’s work force. Being on the IWL panel will give me a platform to speak up about what I believe is right; equality for all.

Anastasia Noyes ’21

“The kind of beauty I want most is the hard-to-get kind that comes from within: Strength, Courage, and Dignity.” – Ruby Dee

From Anastasia: The reason why I would like to be on the Student Advisory Panel is because I really enjoy reaching out to my community, spreading awareness on a multitude of topics, and feel as though my leadership skills that I have obtained over the years prove that I am capable of helping others.


(Missing from photo: Karen Velasco ’19 & Sammi Truong ’19)