So Long and Farewell!

By Maggie Pool

Since the beginning of this academic year, I have been an office assistant at UMKC’s Women’s Center. My time here has proven not only my aptitude for learning more about my passions, such as feminism, but also how much power I have in spreading that knowledge to the people around me.

One of my responsibilities was writing a weekly blog post for the Women’s Center website.

“What do I need to write about?” I asked.

“Anything about women.”

As broad as that prompt was, it allowed me to freely explore realms about women in fields that I am already deeply ingrained in, like film, for example. I became fascinated over the gender inequalities surrounding Oscar nominations, especially after this year featured an explosive amount of incredible female directors and female-driven film projects. I explored the history of fallen Hollywood mogul, Harvey Weinstein, who has been sentenced to 23 years in prison for two felony sex crimes. I dove into film industry history with Dorothy Arzner, who was the only woman director to successfully transition into the era of talkies from silent cinema. All of these topics filled me with greater wonder and love for the world of cinema, while also expanding my knowledge of women’s influence in cinema.

Alongside graduate assistant Indra Mursid, I had the honor of creating a brand new Women’s Center program. Indra and I teamed up to start a Menstrual Products Drive to raise awareness about the expenses of menstrual products, the hardships women go through during periods, the Pink Tax, and how many schools are trying to make products more accessible. We held the drives in UMKC’s residence halls, and we were pleasantly surprised to see students excited about our program by donating products for others to use. The ultimate goal was to have products available in every women’s and gender-neutral bathroom on campus. Raising awareness about menstrual cycles makes the subject less taboo. That will hopefully make it more possible in the future for women to have better access to menstrual products and better support systems during menstrual cycles.

My time working at the Women’s Center has been one of my favorite working experiences yet. I’ve told the staff they can’t get rid of me that easily! I will be back for events and to study in the amazing supportive environment that is the Women’s Center. I thank everyone so much for the fun and wonderful experience that this has been! So long and farewell!

Indra’s Experience at the Women’s Center

By Indrasari Mursid

For the past 4 ½ months, I have been the graduate assistant at the Center and throughout that time it has shown me what I’m capable of and what my limits were. Additionally, how little I knew about women (beyond my knowledge of being a Women’s and Gender Studies minor as an undergraduate) in industries like theater and film, sport communication, and business thanks to my incredible co-workers and the events we put on throughout the fall semester.

Throughout the semester, I took photographs at various events, managed social media accounts, assisted in creating programs, created event fliers, and managed the Healing Arts program throughout campus. Managing Healing Arts with workshops provided by A Window Between Worlds proved more to me how impactful art-making for leisure was as far as coping with daily stressors of being a college student amongst other identities. As an artist, I found release in leisurely art-making and that’s how I found the field of Art Therapy in high school.

As an Art Therapy major during my undergraduate career, I had seen how transformative intentional art-making was in a supervised art therapy session related to individual experiences of their domestic life, interpersonal and romantic relationships, trauma, family, sexuality and sex, cultural and religious identities, etc. Facilitating Healing Arts workshops at Hospital Hill, replenishing Stepping Stones for Healing Arts corners around campus, and managing I Can, We Can and Shrink Your Stress gave me an inadvertent, small taste of what it might be like for me as an aspiring art therapist to facilitate an art therapy session in groups or individually. These workshops, events, and corners have affirmed why I want to be an art therapist in the future.

Not only did my experience as a graduate assistant affirm my goal of becoming an art therapist after I obtain my licensed professional counselor (LPC) license, but it affirmed my love for advocating for others especially with my involvement in Walk A Mile in Her Shoes, I Can, We Can, “I Am Enough” photo campaign, Women Who Lead, and reaching out to organizations that also advocate for others like League of Women Voters, MOCSA, Barrier Babes, UMKC’s Counseling Services, UMKC LGBTQIA+ Affairs, and Violence Prevention and Response Program. I have already decided as a licensed professional counselor, I would like to work for a non-profit organization or at least for a company that truly advocates for their patients and employees.

Unfortunately,  I am leaving at the end of the fall semester to pursue other educational opportunities, but I am so grateful for what I have learned, the friendships I made during the process, and the hard skills that will be an asset to me in my future counseling career and in other jobs up until my counseling career. Working at the Women’s Center was truly a learning experience of what I am capable of and what I still have to improve on, but it has cemented my love for counseling, art, and advocating for human rights. I hope to combine all of those interests into my counseling practice.

My Time As An Honorary “Roo”

By Skye VanLanduyt

I’m sad my time at the UMKC Women’s Center is coming to a close. Although I’m not a traditional UMKC student, the Women’s Center welcomed me as their blog editor for this semester. I wish more people in our community knew about the programs, resources, and services the Women’s Center provides.

I loved getting to interact with students, staff, and members of the community on a regular daily basis. However, I will treasure my one-to-one meetings with our Assistant Director, Arzie Umali. She provided me with valuable career development skills, advice, and compassion. I may have graduated with a B.A in English, but I never thought of myself as being “qualified” or “good enough” to be a writer. While studying abroad as an undergrad, a professor told me I was “unfit to be an English major.” Given this was a professor, their words greatly impacted my self-confidence. I started unnecessarily worrying over something as simple as writing an email. Two years later, I can say as an undergraduate, I published eight pieces in my school’s literary magazine. As an intern for the Women’s Foundation of Greater Kansas City, I’ve kept governments’ accountable and ensured more women become appointees.

Now, I can say I am an honorary “Roo.” It has been a pleasure to be the blog editor for the fall 2019 semester at the Women’s Center. I’ve had the opportunity to staff the front desk and participate in Walk A Mile In Her Shoes®, the UMKC Women’s Center Wine Tasting, and The Clothesline Project. All of these programs and experiences have inspired me to pay closer attention to women right here in our community. It seems silly I let one person’s opinion of me affect how I saw myself. I let a lot of opportunities pass me by, either because I was too scared to try, or because I didn’t see myself as worthy enough. Arzie saw my potential, worth, and capabilities as a writer and young woman when I couldn’t see it for myself. I can’t thank her or the Women’s Center enough for encouraging me to see myself as a strong, qualified, worthy woman. I know I will take what I learned this semester with me for the rest of my life.

I’ve always enjoyed writing about women and LGBTQIA issues, but getting to write and help others write for a larger audience, has been really rewarding. My time as a blog editor for the Women’s Center might be over, but I hope to encourage and inspire other women just as the Women’s Center has inspired me. I know my writing career and commitment to continue fighting for women in the non-profit sector has just begun.

Sports Management Intern Reflects On Her Time At The Women’s Center

By Olivia Brzozowski

My time at the Women’s Center was short, fun and flew by! It seems like just yesterday I was coming up with ideas of where I wanted to intern for my Master’s program, and deciding to reach out to the Women’s Center. I thought the Women’s Center would be a great place to intern because it could allow me to tie two topics together that I am passionate about: women’s equity and sports. I am currently a GA in the Student-Athlete Support Services Office with Kansas City Athletics, and have always felt empowered as a woman working in a male-dominated field.

I decided to try something a little different by interning somewhere not directly related to athletics, but could allow me to integrate the two. So, this semester, that’s what I did. I was put in charge of a new programming event called Roo Up with the Women’s Center to promote UMKC female student-athletes. It was a great success and I am so happy the events went so well. I enjoyed getting to work other events, such as Walk a Mile in Her Shoes, and helping with auditions for the Vagina Monologues. I learned a lot throughout the semester and meeting and working with new people was a great experience. Everyone here is so supportive and encouraging. The Women’s Center was a great way for me to de-stress from other stressors in my life, and was such a comforting place to work. Lastly, I can’t believe my time here is already up, but I will definitely pay many visits to the Women’s Center next semester (also my last semester of grad school, woot!!)

Work Study Student Reflects on Her Time at the Women’s Center

By Adriana Suarez

Working at the Women’s Center for my first semester in college has been an eye opening experience! I have enjoyed the Women’s Center for multiple reasons. The women’s center has allowed me to have the opportunity to be a little more open minded in considering events in not only my own life but in the life of others. In short, the women’s center cultured me. Working at the women’s center, I have worked with a variety of different personalities that I hold closely to my heart. Honestly, the people I worked with have been amazing, understanding, and helpful. The experiences I had at the women’s center opened my mind to see problems

I didn’t consider beforehand. I never knew so many women in our area are in need of the shelters. I have been fortunate to be able to help some of those women by providing them with resources the women’s center offers. Lastly, I have had an amazing time attending the events that the Women’s Center holds for UMKC’s students. The programs have been as small as the Roo up event and as big as the Women who lead.

I feel like from each of these events, I have not only helped make an impact on our campus but I have also become an informed student. The events we hold are a great experience and I hope more people come out to attend in the next semester! I feel as though I am making a difference with each event that I work because I do see the impact it has on UMKC community whether we reach a few students or we reach thirty. Lastly, the work environment that the women’s center has, definitely has taught me about work ethic. This position has definitely been a new experience to me and it has provided me great opportunity for growth and I have learned skills that I can implement in future jobs but will also continue to grow as I stay here longer.

Film Student Reflects on Her Time At The Women’s Center

By Maggie Pool

At the beginning of the semester, I had no idea my life’s journey would lead me to UMKC Women’s Center. My year started out unexpectedly rough, and I wasn’t sure how the rest of my semester would turn out. Fortunately, I was immediately welcomed into the Center’s working family made up of interns, office assistants, Indra, our graduate assistant, and our fearless leaders, Arzie and Brenda. I always felt welcomed, safe, and cared about. Indra would ask me every day how I was doing and would precisely pick up our conversations from where they left off.

If I’m being honest, though, I wasn’t exactly sure what the Women’s Center did for UMKC, so it was very interesting to learn everybody’s roles coming in. Learning about all the different projects everyone was doing for the Women’s Center and where their passions lied when it came to women’s rights struck a chord with me. I realized that the fight for women’s rights could be found anywhere in society. For example, some focused more on women’s sports, where other’s found greater enthusiasm in supporting women in the arts. It’s inspiring to see how anyone with any passion can channel those feelings into advocating for women’s rights.

I, unexpectedly, found a pocket in my life to create a project for the Women’s Center. Other than working at the Women’s Center, I’m also an RA at UMKC’s Johnson Hall. Indra and I paired up with Residential Life to make UMKC’s first ever Menstrual Products Drive. The drive took place over the course of a month during Wing Wars, an annual competition held at the residence halls. Each residence hall received a box and scored points for donated menstrual products. The goal was to receive as many donations as possible to then be placed in gender neutral bathrooms on campus. We hope to expand on this project in the future. It was incredible to have such an impact on the Women’s Center my very first semester here! I am grateful for the experience and for meeting all the different and amazing women of the Women’s Center.

Reflecting on My First Semester at the Women’s Center

By Elise Wantling

As I write this, it is the beginning of finals week, which means the fall 2019 semester is drawing to a close, and with it ends my first semester working at the Women’s Center. I didn’t join the team until the end of October, so I haven’t been here very long, but I have learned a lot in my short time working here. I’ve learned the basic workings of the Women’s Center, like how to run the front desk. I’ve honed in on my creative skills while working with my coworker, Michelle to create a video game themed bulletin board and helped create the boxes we used for our menstrual product drive. I also became a pro button maker, making tons of buttons for our tabling events. Most importantly, I have learned about each of my coworkers, from their names and majors to what makes them a unique part of our team.

I’m sad to see the semester come to an end already. This is only my second semester at UMKC, and next semester is slated to be my last, but I’ve really come to love it here and I’m going to miss it when I graduate. Sure, my commute is long and I can never find a spot in the parking garage (except on the 5th floor), but the people here are wonderful and I love all of my professors. I’ve worked a lot of jobs during my college career, but I think my job here at the Women’s Center is one of my favorites (probably only second to my job at the library at KU). I love helping with the events and meeting people who drop by the center’s space or who attend our programming. Looking forward though, I’m excited for what the future holds. Next semester I plan on helping actually plan and run events of my own, taking more of a leadership role than I had this semester. I’m also working on becoming the new social media intern, so hopefully I’ll be the person behind the keyboard typing up interesting content on our social media sites. While I’m a little sad about graduating, I’m also super excited to finally be done with undergrad and to move on with my life. I’m getting married next May as well, and I’m excited to create a family of my own with my fiancé.

Overall, it’s been a good semester. We’ve had a lot of fun here at the Women’s Center while also putting in a lot of hard work. Some of my coworkers are leaving after this semester, and I’m going to miss them, but I’m also excited to meet the people who will take their places. Next semester is shaping up to be a good one, and I think I’m ready for it.

Kiana’s Experience At The Women’s Center

By Kiana Mullins

For the past five months, the UMKC Women’s Center has helped me gain self-confidence in my abilities. My internship was a rewarding experience because I was able to advance my knowledge in women’s equity. Learning about the reasons behind every event hosted by the Women’s Center made me aware of what the UMKC campus is missing out on. It was interesting to see the impact these events had on students. The Women’s Center benefits both men and women on campus and this is something not everyone is aware of.

The events I attended also gave me a better understanding of women’s experiences and women’s health. I have been able to advance my leadership skills and volunteering at events, and being responsible for certain tasks has helped others recognize my reliability.

I am able to recognize how beneficial the UMKC Women’s Center is because of the events that they host and resources they provide. After I walk across that stage on December 14th, I will be able to use the skills I gained through this internship in the real world. Being a part of the Women’s Center has allowed me to see the bigger picture of why it is important to promote women’s equity and inclusion.

Aspiring Latina Professional Joins The Women’s Center

By Adriana Suarez 

Hi, my name is Adriana Suarez. I am a freshman here at UMKC in the Undecided or Exploratory Program. I graduated from Sumner Academy of Arts & Sciences in Kansas City, Kansas. I am interested in a major with the sociology department as well a minor in Spanish, to maintain connection to my roots; being a young Latina professional. In the future, I hope to work in the non-profit sector. I decided to join the Women’s Center because I love culture and being around others.

While also being a member of the Latino Student Union, I hope to gain more involvement on campus through the Women’s Center. One of my goals is to become immersed in the culture at UMKC I love doing things to help others, and I have many interests including music and arts.

This last summer, I interned for the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City as an Activities Director. I worked on a team, creating lesson plans and teaching students grade 4- 6 in the KC Metro area. This experience led me to grow in both my personal and professional life. I loved working with the kids and being able to bring a smile to their faces.

Introducing Elise, The Women Center’s New Staff Member

By Elise Wantling

Hello all! My name is Elise Wantling, and my pronouns are they/them/their. I am a senior here at UMKC studying political science, with the goal of attending grad school next year either here or at the University of Kansas to get my masters in social work/social welfare. My plan is to become educated in non-profit management, and eventually open my own home for homeless LGBTQ+ youth. I transferred here from KU at the beginning of 2019 because, well, out of state tuition gets expensive after a while when you’re a Missourian studying in Kansas. While I enjoyed my time at KU thoroughly, I am also really enjoying studying here at UMKC! I am glad I found a school in Kansas City that has a strong political science program and an LGBTQ+ friendly campus.

I am excited to work with the Women’s Center to promote equity and equality for all genders. While I do not identify as a woman anymore, I have lived as one for about two decades and I feel like I have a pretty good grasp of the struggles women face. Being nonbinary, I also have the unique perspective of what it is like living outside the gender binary. I hope to use my unique gender related experiences to be able to help people of all genders live a better life. I am looking forward to blogging, working and planning events, and seeing everyone’s beautiful faces at the Women’s Center.