Sunday, December 9, 2012

What's A Good Word for WLI?

Here's the video from our closing ceremony, April 29, 2011. Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Coming Full Circle

Closing Ceremony Address by Patricia Gonzalez, 4.29.2011

Four years ago, there was a perception on this campus that women were catty, jealous, competitive, focused, academically unmotivated, and lacked the skills to navigate various professional and social spheres. However, some of those very women talked to Calvin Gantt, AOP director, about finding a place where they could learn to be leaders. Thus, the Women’s Leadership Institute was established.
Through development sessions, networking opportunities, community service, mentoring, and support sessions, women on this campus found a place where their leadership skills could be strengthened while exploring their identities as individuals and collectively as women.

Four years ago, I did not imagine that WLI would become not just an organization; not just a group of women having “girl talk”, but a tremendous force on this campus.
I did not imagine that we would be providing housing for two Haitian families, or school supplies for girls in Tanzania, or mentoring for teenagers ages 12-17 in Rochester. I did not imagine that we would work collectively to raise $500 to battle congenital heart defects in babies.

I did not imagine that these women would ENJOY having people come in to tell them the appropriate way to dress, or how to network, or how to advocate for themselves as women. I thought they would mostly want to talk about boys, and school, and maybe their parents. But they did all this and more.

Most of all, I did not imagine that, in four years, I would finally see myself as a leader. Not the kind of leader that forces people to follow her, but the kind that people want to work with.

After four years, we have come full circle. We have experienced challenges, stress, fun, and personal and professional growth. We have embodied the ideal woman leader in our interactions with faculty, staff, administrators, guests, and alumni. We have embraced the truth about ourselves, and that we don’t need to strive for perfection, but we must allow for mistakes, because they are always our greatest teachers.

The Women’s Leadership Institute hasn’t only changed the negative perceptions of women on this campus; it has changed my perception of myself. It has changed each young woman’s perception of herself.

For all of our supporters here–thank you for always being there for our students. For Liz Seager, Caroline Whelan, Cynthia Oswald, thank you for taking the time to meet with the ladies on a Saturday. We truly appreciate you. For Tom Matthews, thank you so much for your support of the women through the Women’s Conference, and through our year-long collaboration with the GOLD program. To the AOP department, thank you for always cheering me on when I’m running around like a chicken with my head cut off!

For all of the participants, thank you. Thank you for your time, your energy, your love, your kind words for me and for each other.

For the PD team. Words cannot express how much you mean to me. So all I will say now is that you have not only touched my heart, you have touched my very soul. You have helped me become the woman I am today.

Thank you all for the most amazing year of WLI! We have come full circle!!!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Because When I...

by Nancy Brito

Because when I speak, sometimes I stutter
It’s right there, the tip of my tongue
But it won’t come out
So I don’t talk at all.
Because when I speak, sometimes I don’t make sense
My communication skills lack confidence
I don’t even understand what I say sometimes
So I don’t talk at all.
Because when I speak, my hands start to shake
My stomach turns over and my legs give away.
My heart beats so fast; sometimes I feel that it’ll stop.
So I don’t talk at all.
Because when I write, sometimes my words sound beautiful
I don’t realize the wisdom I have in my head
Until I take the time to sit down and find out.
So I write my heart out
Because when I write, sometimes my words make sense.
I can take my time and do it over again.
And again and again…until…there you go.
So I write my heart out
Because when I write, my confidence builds
Reading those words over and over.
Man, I give myself the chills.
So I write my heart out.

April 26, 2005

by Nancy Brito

April 26th 2005
It was a Tuesday
A Tuesday that will never be forgotten
That will forever be replayed in her mind.
A Tuesday that will forever change her life
And forever change her relationships with others
No matter how much she denies it.
A Tuesday that breaks her soul so subtlety
That she doesn’t know it until it’s too late to fix it.
April 26th 2005
Short shorts and a small shirt
13 years old
The need to be accepted is so great that she followed her friends to hang out and Have a good time instead of going to school.
April 26th 2005
They walk in a house that smelled of liquor and weed and see two men
Gio and Red
Those names that she will never forget.
She laughs and enjoys the attention
But inside she knows this is wrong
She wishes she went to school instead of here
Listening to these songs about sex and drugs
She watches herself change and she can’t help it
She has to play a role and she’s playing it well.
April 26th 2005
The need to be accepted was so great that she took her first shot of alcohol.
The taste of Bacardi Superior went down her throat and it burned
It burned so bad that she felt the next day and the day after
She still remembers how it feels even after drinking
Svedka, Grey Goose, Red Label, Captain Morgan and E&J
Those drinks that she had in college she can’t remember the taste
But that taste of the Bacardi Superior… never left her lips.
April 26th 2005
The need to be accepted was so great that she played spin the bottle.
She saw that bottle spin and with each turn, her stomach did too.
Gio looked up and licked his lips while looking at her.
The need to be accepted was so great that she smiled and laughed while she ached inside.
He took her to the room
The need to be accepted was so great that she kissed him and closed her eyes,
Telling herself this will all be over soon.
He laid her down this time and said it was ok
The need to be accepted was so great that she said ok too
But deep down inside, she knew she didn’t want to.
She wished she went to school instead but no…
The need to be accepted was so great that she was lying on this bed of a man that she didn’t know.
She said No sex.
He said ok.
And without a thought, took off those short shorts and that small shirt.
She lost her voice that day
That day that he didn’t listen.
Then the need to be accepted didn’t matter anymore
She prayed as he inserted himself into her that someone would walk in that door
But then time stopped
April 26th 2005 was the longest day of her life.
She couldn’t feel him inside her
But the grunts of pleasure that she heard confirmed
Only what she didn’t want to believe.
She turned to her left and she looked into a mirror
Stared for what seemed like forever
7 years later, she’s still staring in that mirror
And when he was done, she laid there lifelessly
As if he beat her but she wished he did
She wishes that he bound her
In rope and told her “Bitch don’t move or I’ll cut your throat.”
Because it would have been easier to have been bound by another man
Than to be bound by her own hands.
And since April 26th 2005, she is still bounded.
By her self hate and disgust
She looks in the mirror and sees that she isn’t good enough.
She sees what she saw on April 26th 2005
She’s still locked in that room in which he had his way with her
She can’t get out because she locked herself in there.
She’s been in there for so long, she doesn’t even realize she’s still in there
Gio, 19 years old living in a white house on northern Astoria Blvd
He has her self worth, which she didn’t even fight for.
And years down the road, she still gets queasy thinking about it.
She gave it up so fast and now all she has left are those seconds that last forever.
Those seconds that she remembers in that bed
Looking in the mirror and seeing nothing staring back at her.
On April 26, 2005.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


by Maya Shah

You may never know, but at the eye doctor, with mom, some guy
gave his birth year as the same as yours and I wondered if you’d look like him.

You may never know but right now I'm in a room full of the most fantastic women and I am crying thinking that I never got to sit in a room with you.

You may never know but before coming to college Paras sat me down to talk and I wondered if you would have done the same.

You may never know but I consider many guys to be my big brother knowing they can never be you.

You may never know but Ami and I fought over who'd get to name our baby after you (I am so winning).

You may never know but it scared the shit out of me when the doctors said that conception would prove to be difficult in the future.

You may never know but big bro I know you be knowing it all..

Love always and forever

You little sister.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

My Symphony.

by Maya Shah, Sophomore, WLI Coordinator of Development.
Shared during Woman II Woman Talent/Creativity Session, 12.10.10

I’m going to pretend to like you, I’m only going to pretend to care.
Because you’re the only one that’s here. The only one that’s always been there.
Like those seven notes of music sprawled across those sheets.
Let me turn you into those seven notes of music.
No let me refrain.
Let me analyze you like the structure of a sentence.
Because I’m not Michelangelo creating the sculpture David.
You are already made and though there’s a lot of cracks on the surface. These flaws are placed in all the right places.
No I’m not a composer so that the world can listen to your beauty.
But instead I’ll be there like Microsoft word, there to point out all your typos, giving you the option to hit the change, replace, or ignore..
Because I honestly can’t invest into this. No I truthfully don’t know how it all even began.
It was like a capital letter letting me know who was in charge.
It showed up and found a home around my heart. It was a Brick Wall.
And it was cemented to the ditch too stubborn to move.
It’s subject surrounded you.
You and the way you trembled the wall a bit to fill up my holes, like filling in my voids.
Your ending predicate let the air escape out of me as if to think it was my soul.
I kept it in too long.
Questioned it’s run on sentences as it beat around the bush like a child refusing to take a nap.
But you held me, you laid with me counting sheep, spreading your warmth, singing me lullabies…
extenuating each of those seven notes of music.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Power. You write your own book.

By Janita Mercado, Freshman, WLI Class of 2011
Shared during Woman II Woman Talent/Creativity Session, 12.10.10

-Every individual has a story; their stories are all unique. That’s the obvious.

-Now does every individual understand the power that they hold within because I don’t think so

-Im not speaking about the physical power to let's say punch through a wall but the power they hold over the daily decisions they make, the power of overcoming certain challenges, the power to recover after every fail, and so much more.

-I don’t think everyone here, in this room, at this second fully understands that each and everyone of you are beautiful females, with strong wills, smart thoughts, talented, with great features, big hearts, and may I add females that hold power to control their own life whether it be personal, professional, or romantic life.

-See after spending some time with you girls, exchanging a handful of words with some of you and spending time with myself I have learned so much about my power. I have taken advantage of my power to write my own story.

Life is rough; deal with it and stop bitchin

Life is dumb sometimes, so what

Life tends to throw love at you at all the wrong times; ugh I hate boys

Life is so hard; oh well build a bridge and get over it

Life is complicated; yea that’s because you procrastinate so much duh stupid

I'm not smart enough. WOW WOW WOW, stop don’t you dare say one more word wtf are
you thinking? Never ever think less of yourself. Fuck that, you are more than smart and if you continue with life with the mentality that you're not smart enough, give up now. Say "forget this". Yea right, you know damn well life is not going to bring you down without you putting up a fight.

Life isn’t fair; yea well name one thing that is.

See one thing that I fully understand is that life will never be easy, it won't build a sign in the road that says “hey you, go this way, it’s the right way” or “yo, turn around stupid you're going the wrong way”

Usually, we have to learn on our own, we have to experience dumb things like love, dumb things like stress and complicated choices. But in all reality the experience is never dumb, it's only going to teach you something that you didn’t know before.

Life is not easy but be a woman and be strong, I'm sure you know you are strong, I'm sure you just need to find that strength to fight and never give up. So the fuck what you failed. The world is not going to end, the story doesn’t end, it's just beginning. Don’t give up, just brush your shoulders off and try again, and again if you have to… why?

Because you can, because you have the POWER to do what you wanna do.

You're beautiful and you're not the only one who sees you are; others do too. Don’t tell yourself you're not worth something and don’t let anyone treat you like you are a piece of shyt. You're not, and we all deserve the world like my mom used to tell me. I never realized why she used to go crazy on people that used to talk shyt about me or who told me I wont measure up to them. (I'm talkin bout she went all ganster on their asses sometimes) But now I see, she believed me from scratch, I now believe in myself. It takes someone else to see the beauty within you, point
it out, in order for you to see that it is true; you deserve the world. Love life and cherish it. Even the negatives. Do something that makes you feel beautiful.

As for now I'm going to do something that makes me feel beautiful; I'm going to dance!