Summer program teaches student the importance of taking the lead


Gannon University sophomore nursing major Abby Price attended the National Education for Women’s (NEW) Leadership program at Chatham University over the summer and met with women young and old who showed you don’t have to be a man to take the lead.
The week-long program is designed to introduce female students to successful women and give them an experience they can benefit from in their future careers.
Price was a course mentor for Jeffrey Bloodworth, Ph.D., a history professor at Gannon University, when he recommended that she be the second student from Gannon to attend the program.
He said the program is an empowering experience for young women and a great opportunity to meet and network with women in leadership roles in the professional world.
“It’s extremely important for young women who are socialized to not take the lead,” Bloodworth said.
“You have to be intentional about developing leadership skills in women where they begin to realize they can, and should, take the lead.”
The program is designed to be centered on women in politics, but it is open to female college students of all majors. Price, a nursing major, said that she not only feels more confident in her approach to politics as a result of the conference, but that her and others’ views from non-political backgrounds were valuable to group discussions.
“I think it was important for them to hear our perspective; to hear from people who weren’t so driven by politics” Price said.
The program included diversity and communication training, guest speakers, public speaking exercises and a social action project on fracking.
For the social action project, the group of about 40 students was divided into two and spent the week preparing for mock school board and township presentations.
Price found herself challenged with the position of presenting the pro-fracking side of things. Luckily, her father works on the fracks in Pennsylvania and she and her group were able to take advantage of that.
“It ended up working out in our favor because we were able to call my dad and ask him questions that we couldn’t find the answers to online,” Price said. “We had the inside scoop to things that they couldn’t have known.”
Price was also in the right place at the right time when she got to meet Patricia Vance, the only member of the Pennsylvania Senate who also has a nursing background.
The group took a trip to the Pennsylvania State Senate in Harrisburg on the day the senate was voting on a bill placed by Vance on nursing education.
“It was interesting to talk to her about policy that could influence my career,” Price said.
Price also pointed out that although the population of Pennsylvania is 51 percent female, women only make up 17.8 percent of the state legislature, the Pennsylvania General Assembly. She said that there needs to be a change in the underrepresentation of women in leadership positions, not just in politics, but in all fields.
“It’s not that women have a better voice in things, it’s that they have a different voice,” Price said.
Price is still going to stick with her plan to become a nurse, but said her experience at NEW Leadership has given her a boost of confidence in speaking up and taking the lead in her field.
“I feel like if I see something that I think needs a change, I can go and do it without asking myself, ‘Where do I go next?’”
Although only one woman has represented Gannon University in each of the past two years, NEW Leadership Pennsylvania does not limit the number of students coming from a single university. Any female students from Gannon who are interested in going in 2017 can simply fill out an application and find a professor to be their sponsor.
Price said others should not shy away from the program if their majors are not politically focused and take advantage of the opportunity.
“I’m so glad I went,” Price said. “You learn the most when you push yourself to do something you’re not necessarily comfortable with.”

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