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Eastern Hosts Mentoring Event with International Women's Forum of CT

Published on March 13, 2020

Eastern Hosts Mentoring Event with International Women's Forum of CT

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Students attended an evening of dinner and mentorship with the Women's Forum of Connecticut on March 11 in the Art Gallery.

Eastern Connecticut State University hosted the International Women’s Forum of Connecticut (IWFCT) on March 11 for an event titled “Mentoring Matters: Mentor Her." The event featured round-table discussions led by an all-female panel of senior executives for companies such Girl Scouts of Connecticut and Reliance Solution Services, LLC. The panelists represented a variety of industries including business, healthcare, communications and non-profit.

The IWFCT is a network of female leaders from diverse backgrounds and experiences committed to empowering and advancing other women. Marie Meliksetian, president of IWFCT, attended the event and emphasized the importance of mentorships and networking with students, advising that they start making connections at Eastern as soon as possible.

Female students from a variety of majors ranging from business to biology attended the event with the goal of networking and learning from women who have been in the same position as them. “I think it’s really important for women to come together and support one another,” said Gabriella Robertson, a senior majoring in biology.

Left to right: Marie Meliksetian, CEO of Reliance Solution Services; Eastern President Elsa Núñez; Molly Rees Gavin, president of Connecticut Community Care; Mary Barneby, CEO of Girl Scouts of Connecticut; Kemesha Wilmot, associate director of Eastern's Center for Community Engagement; Valarie Gelb, CEO of Gelb Global Business Growth Advisors; and Andi Goldman, principal at Equitas Partners Fund.

Along with female business leaders across Connecticut, several Eastern staff members attended and participated in the event. Starsheemar Byrum, director of the Arthur L. Johnson Unity Wing, ran the event, while Kemesha Wilmot, associate director of the Center for Community Engagement, served as the moderator. Eastern President Elsa Núñez also attended and gave advice to students on how to succeed in leadership positions as a woman, saying, “It’s important that the female students of Eastern understand the importance of mentoring from other women.”

The event aimed to emphasize the importance for female students to pursue mentors and build networks. “The goal was to create a space where our students could hear from women before them about obstacles they’re going to face and how to navigate them,” said Byrum. Fielding questions about critical skills in the workplace and how to build confidence, the female executives were eager to advise the young women in attendance.

“Don’t be a problem deliverer, be a problem solver,” said Mary Barneby, CEO of Girl Scouts of Connecticut. Andi Goldman, managing member of Equitas Partners Fund, told students, “Don’t let fear stop you from anything,” and encouraged them to find techniques that help them to get into the right headspace before an interview, such as energetic music and pep talks.

As students look for jobs and pay equity, Valarie Gelb, CEO of Gelb Global Business Growth Advisors, stressed the importance of "knowing and researching the value you bring to an organization." Molly Gavin, president of Community Care Inc., advised the students "don't let perfection be the enemy of the good." 

After a night of dinner, networking and professional guidance, students left with feelings of enthusiasm and empowerment about their future careers. “As a woman going into a professional career, learning how to advocate and take care of myself is extremely important,” said Avery Smith, a junior majoring in Social Work.

“Of all of the career events I’ve gone to, this one was my favorite,” added Eve Jimenez Sagastegui, a senior majoring in computer science. “Sometimes I feel like our campus isn’t seen, but events like these make me proud to be here.”

“Mentor Her” was sponsored by the Women’s Center, the Center for Internships and Career Development (CICD) and the Office of the President.


Written by Molly Boucher