WomenNC is a non-profit organization that empowers young adults in the elimination of social injustice for women and girls. Each year, WomenNC awards fellowships to a group of North Carolina university students to become advocates for women’s rights issues and solutions.
Each fellow conducts research on his or her own topic, partnering with local organizations addressing the challenges affecting women. The student fellows present their local research findings and best practices from North Carolina organizations at the United Nations’ Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), with the goal of improving women’s rights and providing strategies that may be replicated in global communities.
I had the honor to work with this year’s Fellows, an amazingly talented and motivated group of young people, as they prepared for their presentations to the United Nations CSW59, taking place the week of March 9. The student Fellows’ training included a workshop designed to guide them in crafting their message and using visuals to tell their story.
Once their presentations were underway, the Fellows began practicing their presentations. The first rehearsal focused on providing feedback on content and organization. Each student rehearsed in front of the group of their peers, their mentors, and the WomenNC board members, gathering feedback to help hone their content in preparation for the big event. A second coaching event followed, this one focused on delivery skills.
In addition to the coaching sessions, the students also had the opportunity to receive media training with my colleague Scott Morgan of the Morgan Group. Since the students would be interviewed by the media, this training taught them how to sit, what to wear, how to use appropriate facial expressions, and how to distill their comments down to sound bites that capture the essence of the work they’ve done.
Lois Nixon, WomenNC’s CSW Student Fellowship Co-Chair, describes how the Fellowship experience has impacted the lives of these young students:
“In addition to presenting their research at the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, which the Fellows describe as “life-changing”, there are long-term impacts on their careers and the direction of their lives. They become proficient public speakers, passionate in their work to make a difference in the world, and purposeful in their life goals. The paths they take range from the Peace Corps to political activism to documentary filmmaking to volunteer work with NGO’s in their local communities. They truly are optimistic (and so are we) that they can change the world for good.”
I was awed by these bright and passionate young college students! It was a privilege to help them work toward their goal of making a positive impact on women’s issues, both locally and around the world.