Psychology major and WGST Emphasis student Maddie Weinstock is the winner of a WGST scholarship to attend the NEW Leadership Texas this past summer. The NEW Leadership Texas is a six-day residential summer institute sponsored by UT’s Center for Women’s & Gender Studies that educates college women about the important role that politics plays in their lives and encourages them to become effective leaders in the political arena. See below to read more about Maddie’s experience at the NEW Leadership Texas this past summer!
Thanks to the astounding generosity of the Department of Women and Gender Studies at TCU, I had the chance to attend NEW Leadership Texas this summer. I had little knowledge of the program entering into it beyond the simple information accrued from a bit of online research, revealing that the program aims to “educate college women about the important role that politics plays in their lives, introduce them to successful women leaders, and encourage them to become more involved in the political process.” After six days spent on the University of Texas at Austin campus, I can safely say that NEW Leadership accomplished all of those goals and did so much more for me and each of my fellow participants.
A wonderfully diverse group of forty women and I had the life-changing experience of devoting a week to dive deep into the political process of the United States. Every day was filled with a variety of valuable learning experiences. Distinguished speakers educated us on topics such as public speaking, civic health, the struggle of being female in a male-dominated field, the importance of diversity in our representatives, and so much more. We participated in a mock senate hearing over a proposed bill, in which I had the honor to play the reporter Arianna Huffington and ask questions to expose the fallacies of my opponent’s arguments. We embarked on tours of important government buildings in Austin including the City and State Capitols. They kept us busy, but it was well worth it!
I gained an invaluable breadth of knowledge from the many events and from the amazing women I encountered. For six days, I was surrounded by empowered women with passion and drive as intense as my own. Conversation frequently centered on topics typically considered “taboo,” yet we were all able to speak and listen with open minds; and we all learned a great deal from one another. I truly believe that each of these women has the power to change the world, and I would not be surprised if one of the members of my cohort is the president of the United States sometime soon.
We need more spaces for women to get together and discuss the most relevant political issues of our time. We need more opportunities for marginalized groups to proudly identify with their background and discuss the struggles they face as a result of their position in society. We need to encourage women to pursue political careers. We, as a nation, need the kind of change that NEW Leadership Texas offered every single student in attendance.
Before attending NEW Leadership, I knew that I had a passion for social justice. After attending the program, however, I have a fervent passion combined with a developed knowledge of how to fight for the change I want to see. I am incredibly grateful for the support that Women and Gender Studies provided to help me attend this program, and I cannot wait to apply my knowledge in class and in the community.