The End of My Journey at the Women’s Center

By Nikeisha Fortenberry

As I finish my last week at the Women’s Center, it amazes me to know that three years have gone by. It seems like only yesterday I was interviewing for a work-study position, and now, I am transitioning into a different chapter of my life—leaving memorable moments behind here.

I can write about so many experiences I had (and trust me, there are many); however, I will only share a couple of memories and keep the rest dear to my heart. One of my fondest memories is the evolution of my feminism. During my undergraduate studies, I had taken a Women’s and Gender studies course that discussed first-wave, second-wave, and third-wave feminism. The course did provide good insight about each aspect of feminism; however, I did not know how it applied to me. I did not know what it meant to be a feminist.

When I was given the opportunity to work at the Women’s Center, one of the first pieces of information I learned was the mission. The Women’s Center mission, to “advocate, educate, and provide support services for the advancement of women’s equity on campus and within the community at large,” continues to stay with me. Eventually, I realized that feminism applied to me because I had the responsibility of understanding the importance of advocating for women’s issues and advancing women’s equity through programming, collaborations, and research. But most importantly, I found real value in listening to women’s stories and learning about their many contributions to helping women in their own communities. Through my time here, I learned that being a feminist meant not only being a strong woman, but it also meant being dedicated to educating the community about the importance of women’s issues. I tried to convey these meanings through the programs I chose to create while an intern here, such as the “Love Your Body Day Fashion Show,” “Is America Obsessed With Body Image,” “Everybody is Beautiful Week”, and the “Rock Who You Are Fashion Show.“ All these events focused on dispelling the myths about body image created by the media and hoped to promote positive body image in everyone. I also created the event “Throwing Like A Girl Since 1972,” a panel discussion about the history and impact of Title IX.

As my own feminism evolved, I moved from someone with a lack of understanding (and someone afraid to say the F word out loud) to someone with a personal passion to proactively advocate for women’s issues and promote gender equality, who was no longer afraid of the word “Feminism.”

In addition to the discovery of my feminist identity, the other memories I will always cherish from my time at the Women’s Center are the relationships I made with each person on staff. I was very fortunate to work with such passionate people that were filled with knowledge about women’s issues. Also, I definitely enjoyed all of the parties we had. The food was yummy, but the laughter that we all shared showed that we were not only co-workers, but we all very good friends.

It saddens me to go, but I will always remember that my time at the Women’s Center was a life-changing experience for me. Thank you for the opportunity. Although my journey ends at the Women’s Center, I will continue to keep hold of the mission to advocate for the advancement of women.

A Year of Amazing Events!

By Patsy Campos

The UMKC Women’s Center has hosted a variety of events where we have reached many new and returning audiences throughout the Fall 2010-Spring 2011 term. Our events make an important contribution to the campus and public community by bringing awareness to the importance and advancement of women’s equity. This year our programs included networking events, textile art workshops, special performances and rallies and marches.

Some of our biggest annual events are:

Walk a Mile in Her Shoes

The Vagina Monologues

“Rock Who You Are” Fashion Show

Take Back the Night

Her Art Project

The month of May marks the end of one year for the Women’s Center’s dedicated student staff, but it certainly is not the end of the Women’s Center! Please stop by throughout the summer and next fall to learn more about our upcoming programming. We want to thank all of you for supporting the Women’s Center and giving us the opportunity to create and host successful events and programs. Thank you to our blog readers and for communicating with us through Twitter and Facebook. The Women’s Center wishes all of you a fantastic summer!

Women’s Center Spring Semester 2011

By Maritza Gordillo

WC Student Staff

It feels great to say that spring semester is over and summer vacation begins, well, for most of us anyway. It has been four months since I joined the UMKC Women’s Center student staff and it is amazing how time flies by so quickly! I only worked for the Women’s Center for a short period of time, but I feel a tremendous change in different areas of my life. The opinions I had on certain topics were either changed or reinforced. I not only changed my thoughts and ideas, but also gained knowledge, job experience, and even strengthened professional areas where I had weaknesses. This semester was full of wonderful memories because I managed to work, but I still had fun organizing events, meeting different people, and getting educated on a variety of women’s equity topics.

Working with the Women’s Center staff was amazing; not only did I meet new people, but I also made new friends. Every one of us is from different cultural, religious, and educational backgrounds. Our diversity and opinions were reflected in our work performance and we still managed to come together as a team to meet the goals and mission of the Women’s Center. I’m thankful for the opportunity to have been a part of this wonderful organization and hopefully in the future I can continue to contribute in some way. If you would like a volunteer opportunity this summer or are in need of a comfortable spot to hang out, the Women’s Center will be open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Have a fun and safe summer and best wishes to the Spring 2011 graduates!

My Two Years at the Women’s Center

By Bethany Reyna

My 1st year at the Women's Center!

Last year was my first year at the UMKC Women’s Center. I had never had a job like this where we worked for a cause through tabling and events. What I have learned from working at the Women’s Center has made a significant difference to me as a student and as a feminist.

When I first started attending UMKC I wasn’t involved and I had never lived in a city setting before. When I got on campus I was attending community events and seeing an environment that was outside of my campus and dorm life. I started to attend Women’s Center events and realized that the issues they represented not only affect students but also the surrounding community. It was slightly overwhelming to me; I had just graduated high school and then I found myself participating in events like Walk A Mile in Her Shoes and the Vagina Monologues. I had never got the opportunity to experience events like these before because those types of perspectives can be frowned upon where I’m from. During my first year at the Women’s Center I felt like I was impartial to everything that I was involved in  because I couldn’t decide how to define my own feminism.

In my second year at the Women’s Center I feel like I have a bit more perspective and I am less overwhelmed than my first year.

My 2nd year at the Women’s Center!

Now I know that I am a feminist and I can fully understand the importance of each event that we put on for the Women’s Center and the Violence Prevention and Response Project. I feel good knowing that these events might change a person’s perspective or save a person’s life. Having a job like this makes me want to continue to help people in need and I think that once I’m no longer with the Women’s Center, I will miss that aspect of the job the most. After I  graduate, or when I no longer work here, I will continue to try to get involved with my community. Working for an organization like the Women’s Center has been a great experience so far and I hope that it continues to be for the rest of my college career!

American Men’s Studies Association Conference, March 31-April 2, 2011

The Nineteenth Annual “Men and Masculinity Conference” of the American Men’s Studies Association will take place March 31-April 3, 2011 at the University of Missouri – Kansas City. The conference is co-sponsored by the Women’s Center and the Women’s and Gender Studies Program. This year’s theme is “Men, Masculinities and the Common Good in an Era of Economic Uncertainty.” Pre-conference workshops will take place Thursday, March 31, 5-8 pm. Conference Sessions will take place Friday and Saturday, April 1 and 2 from 8 am to 5 pm, and Sunday, April 2, from 8 am to 1 pm. The conference banquet will be Friday evening at the Conference Hotel.

UMKC faculty and staff will be presenting at the conference and UMKC faculty and students may attend all sessions without charge but are asked to register for the conference. UMKC faculty and students may attend the banquet and luncheons but to do so should purchase meal tickets during the registration process. UMKC faculty and students officially presenting at the conference must pay for a full conference registration using the general online registration process. For more information check out the conference website. Details on pre-conference workshops and online registration are available at the registration site.

Cross-posted to the UMKC Women’s & Gender Studies blog.