Cougar women gain skills at Seattle conference

MAIA GABRIEL | Evergreen managing editor

Two WSU students attended a women’s leadership conference where they acquired skills to take into their future careers in medicine and law.

Faduma Abdi, a junior biological science major from the WSU Tri-Cities campus, and Morgan Brown, a senior science communication and women’s studies major, each received $600 scholarships from WSU to attend the conference.

The Women’s Resource Center Student Achievement Scholarship provided partial funding for Adbi and Brown to attend the conference, which is called the Seattle University Leadership Institute.

“It shows us we can really do anything we put our minds to,” Abdi said. “It gives us new ideas we maybe haven’t thought of ourselves.”

The conference took place from June 24 to June 28 and was hosted by the Center for Women and Democracy.

Turea Erwin, the director of the WSU Women’s Resource Center (WRC), said WRC staff chose Abdi and Brown based on financial need and letters they wrote for the scholarship.

Abdi wrote about her desire to gain new leadership skills, and Brown wrote about her previous leadership experience, Erwin said.

“(They) looked into the possibility of taking on positions of political knowledge,” she Erwin said.

The conference took place over the course of five days and provided intensive leadership training, Brown said. The training consisted of workshops, leadership development and talks from business women. Pramila Jayapal, who is running for Seattle City Council, was one of the speakers.

Abdi said she was inspired to see so many women leaders in one area. She said she was happy for the chance to network with them.

Abdi and Brown said their favorite workshop was on analyzing one’s inner critic.

“I learned I should believe in myself because I usually doubt myself a lot and can second-guess my decisions,” Abdi said. “I would say I am more confident in my mindset now.”

Brown said the same workshop taught her to change negative self-critiques in order to benefit herself.

“When you’re put in leadership positions you are often your own biggest critic,” Brown said. “This workshop we had was how to view those critiques and how to understand where they’re coming from and how to move past that.”

Abdi and Brown have different career interests, but both want to use their knowledge to benefit others.

Abdi said after she earns her degree she wants to go to medical school and become a pediatrician.

Brown said after graduation she wants to join the Peace Corp and eventually go to law school. She said she wants to encourage more women to run for office and teach them how to do so.

She sees running for office as a possibility in her future.

“Women make up over 50 percent of the population, and we only represent about 20 percent of Congress,” Brown said.