Guidance for young woman through O.W.L.s


August PelliccioNews Writer

Heidi Lockwood said Opportunities for Women’s Leadership offers guidance to young women.

Lockwood, acting director of the women’s studies program, said the program would not have been possible without the help of student volunteers and student workers from the department.

Student McKenzie Katz said the intention is for O.W.L.s to be a day of empowerment for young women who are students at West Haven High, Wilbur Cross, and Hillhouse. Students are invited in to engage in conversations that connect women’s studies with social justice, she said, and anything that involves young women’s lives.

“We talked about gun violence, we talked about institutional racism, we talked about stigma against people of color,” said Katz. “It was a really great conversation where people from a lot of different backgrounds got to talk about what they understand, what they don’t understand, and what change they would like to make.”

Katz said they also arranged arts and crafts for the students to work on, and they got the opportunity to express themselves. One example, Katz said, was an exercise called, “put your stuff on the paper,” where students wrote letters to their future selves, and collectively constructed poetry out of excerpts from those letters.

“I would say that they’re all interested in empowering themselves,” Katz said, “and when they go to college they’re interested in taking classes that are geared toward a community they’re involved in.”

Graduate assistant for the women’s studies department, Jess Bachinski said the event has been repeated for years, but the format this time was different.

“They’re sort of leading it,” said Bachinski. “We’re here to guide, but it’s what they’re expressing.”

Jacqueline Torres (left) and Neisha Rivera (right), two students from Wilbur Cross, enjoyed the discussions and maturity.

Two Wilbur Cross students, Jacqueline Torres and Neisha Rivera said they most enjoyed the talk on gun violence. Rivera said she accredited this to the maturity, and calm nature that the people in the room maintained as they discussed the important issue.

“I was really excited to come here today,” said Rivera. “I’m going to come here in the fall, and every time I come here I get happy.”

Rivera explained that she plans on enrolling at Southern for the fall semester, and already she takes an English course at Southern for advanced credits at Wilbur Cross.

Torres said the most expressive portion of the afternoon was the bookmaking workshop with librarian Tina Re, where said she was able to express the values that brought her to the program that day.

She said the words, “love yourself” were featured because, “A woman is always supposed to love herself.”

Photo Credit: August Pelliccio

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