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Conference SPARKs women’s empowerment

Bernarda Carranza
Staff Writer

Reinforcing the concept of women in leadership positions, developing communication skills, and shaping women into pro-active thinkers are just some of the goals the SPARK Women’s Leadership conference wants to achieve on campus this semester.

Students Mary Anne Mendoza, Noelle Cozbar and Yasmine Andrawis are planning and directing the conference that hopes to create headstrong La Verne women.

Thirty applicants will be selected to participate.

The conference that will be held on March 7 and 8, is made up of workshops and panels dictated by other women in leading positions.

The purpose is to help participants develop business, public speaking and etiquette skills.

A networking dinner will also be held to extend internship or job opportunities for the students.

“We hope that the participants will leave more informed proactive leaders and thinkers,” said Cozbar, senior political science major and student director of the conference.

“They can do that by being more knowledgeable and aware of the role of women in society, what women can do and the struggles women have in their professions and the skills they need to be successful.”

Mendoza, a senior political science major and student director of the conference, believes that women in power are often depicted in a negative manner and face pressures that men wouldn’t have to in that position. There are expectations women have to meet when it comes to physical appearance and conduct.

There is a discrepancy between how many women are CEOs or in leadership positions.

“Across the board there seems to be a lot more barriers for women in being able to surpass it,” Mendoza said.

“We want to give the participants the skills that they need to be aware of these barriers and overcome them, as well as to form a kind of network environment for them to be able to access those opportunities.”

Last summer the history and political science department sent four female students to a women’s leadership conference in Scripps College.

Students, Mendoza and Cozbar were among the participants and decided to bring it to La Verne.

“I just wanted to share that with other La Verne women and bring back a lot of the skills that I learned at the Scripps leadership conference and make those experiences available to my colleagues and peers,” Cozbar said.

The SPARK Leadership is directed towards female students from all departments and years.

The planning committee strives to have a good mix of participants from all fields interested in developing skills to succeed in their future careers.

“I wanted to participate because in my future field of work not many women are involved in dentistry and I want to be one of the best in the dental field,” Cristal Montiel , sophomore kinesiology major, said. “It’s an opportunity that no young women working for a career should let it pass by.”

“We’re in the time now where women should be motivated to go to things like this because there was never opportunities like this before,”

Corynn Acker said sophomore political science major and assisting with the conference.

Among the speakers and faculty involved with the conference are President Devorah Lieberman, University Chaplain Zandra Wagoner, Associate Professor of Political Science Gitty Amini and Board of Trustees member Wendy Lau.

“Being able to see my peers have hands-on experience makes me think of the influence this will have on our collective future as the women empowering force we are,” Acker said.

Bernarda Carranza can be reached at

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