Student recalls leadership conference


Seeing women in leadership positions is what it takes to become one, according to the National Education for Women’s (NEW) Leadership program at Chatham University.

Maddie Zurinsky, a sophomore English and history dual major at Gannon University, was one of 42 students selected for the program in June 2015. The goal of the week-long, non-partisan program is to empower women to run for office and hold leadership positions.

Zurinsky said Jeff Bloodworth, Ph.D., an associate professor of history, encouraged her to attend the program. She said she was interested because it focused specifically on Pennsylvania’s legislation.

Originally from Albion, Pa., Zurinsky said there were women from all across the state attending. She said she had concerns about what would happen when put into a large group of young women.

“I’ve always had more guy friends,” Zurinsky said. “I hate it when people assume women are naturally emotional and catty, but being a woman, I know we’re fully capable of that.”

Zurinsky said she saw that stereotype broken when the group was able to discuss things like Caitlin Jenner’s Woman of the Year nomination over breakfast one morning.

“I was seeing our different views creep up, but we were being civil with each other,” Zurinsky said.

The group also participated in structured leadership activities like four-hour diversity training and visits from women who held office positions. Zurinsky said part of the diversity training was a self- identity wheel, where the women picked three things that they associated themselves the most with.

In another activity, the group was asked to put together a policy brief on Marcellus Shale.

“Seeing all of us as women act that out those roles was fascinating to me,” Zurinsky said.

Zurinsky said the conference strengthened what kind of leader she is and filled her tool belt with skills. She said her dream job is being the director of a university library, but she has toyed with the thought of getting a Ph.D.

“I’m going to be the director, I need to run the library and deal with different people,” Zurinsky said.

“I left feeling I could do just about anything that I gosh darn wanted to.”

Zurinsky said she enjoys following politics, but is unsure whether she would run for office.

“It’s a big commitment,” Zurinsky said. “You have to do it because you’re passionate, because you want to do it.”

Gannon has incredible

women that are empowering students on this campus, Zurinsky said. She said the one thing these teachers and staff have in common is their confidence in themselves and their ability to share it.

“I can’t just pick one, I really saw these women here being active and sharing their talents with everyone,” Zurinsky said.

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