Several Saginaw Valley State University alumni were featured as panelists in a Womxn’s 5 under 5 panel.
The panel, held virtually on March 20, was organized by the registered student organization (RSO) Female Empowerment and Multicultural Education (FEME) as part of its Womxn’s History Month event schedule.
The panelists were all SVSU alumni who graduated within the last five years with degree focuses ranging from social work to education.
Paige Harde, fourth year secondary education major, is the president of FEME. Harde acted as the moderator during the panel, questioning the panelists on topics ranging from inclusivity to confidence building.
The questions were created by myself and my committee through FEME,” Harde said. “We just tried to create questions that would lead to a meaningful discussion and provide those who attended with some new perspectives.”
Harde said the idea came from FEME vice president Jessica Davis as a way to tie in this year’s Womxn’s History Month theme “Celebrating Womxn Who Tell Our Stories.”
Panelist Angelica Johnson graduated in 2022 with a bachelor’s in social work and currently serves as a graduate assistant for the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs (OMSA) while working towards her master’s in social work.
In her everyday work with SVSU students, Johnson said that confidence is key when exploring new opportunities.
“Don’t limit your challenges but challenge your limits,” Johnson said. “A lot of times the students I talk to are like, ‘oh no, I can’t do it, they’re gonna say no.’ So it’s really [about] having that conversation with students and saying, ‘yes, you can, let’s talk about how we can go about this.’”
Panelist Kathy Perez earned her bachelor’s in social work in 2021 and went on to earn her master’s of social work from Wayne State University in 2022.
Perez agreed that having confidence and speaking up for yourself is important, especially when looking to start a new job.
“Have the difficult conversations, and be open to being vulnerable when you have those conversations,” Perez said. “Have the confidence to ask [questions] during your work interviews.
Make sure you’re gonna be okay there, make sure you’re gonna like it, make sure you’re gonna be happy, because if you’re not happy there’s not much that you’re gonna be able to do or able to change, you’ll be in an unhappy environment.”
Perez also stressed the importance of continuing education, even outside the classroom.
“Continue learning, continue educating yourself in any way you can to keep up with the populations that you work with, the changes in the workplace, little
things that you can do to advocate (for) yourself,” she said.
Panelist Rebecca Dubs graduated with her secondary education degree in winter 2021 and is continuing her education by pursuing a master’s in public administration at SVSU.
As a graduate assistant for the Scott L. Carmona College of Business, Dubs also had tips to build confidence in students.
“One of my favorite quotes is ‘proper preparation prevents poor performance,’” Dubs said.
“In order for me to feel confident in something, I need to know what I’m talking about and the best way to do that is to prepare.
Whether that be having a plan or say you’re having a hard conversation with a co worker, do it with a friend first. Prepare yourself.”
Dubs also emphasized the importance of seeing things from the perspective of others.
“Really remember that everyone is always struggling with something, even if you don’t realize it,” she said. “Having that empathy has really changed my perspective with professionalism in general.”
Harde hopes that the panel helped current students gain insight on what comes next after graduation.
“I hope people that attend heard some great advice or inspiration from our panelists,” Harde said. “I think hearing from womxn who are doing great things in their lives and careers is just always exciting to hear about, especially during Womxn’s History Month.”
For the remainder of the month, FEME will continue its 4th Annual Bra Drive through March 31 with drop boxes located around campus.
FEME will close out its Womxn’s History Month calender of events with a day of service at the Bay Area Women’s Center on
March 31 from 8 am to noon. A link to sign-up for this event can be found in FEME’s Instagram bio.
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