Reflections on the "Educating Tomorrow’s Global Women Leaders" program

By Kaitlyn Rabach

I went into this institute with a very strict definition of leadership. I saw a leader as someone who could start a movement or manage a company, but after just a couple of days with these exceptional women I realized there are a million different ways to express leadership. This institute has stressed that a good leader does not just direct those behind her, but rather works with a community of people beside her.

This institute has been the best experience of my life so far. For the past few years I have focused my volunteer work and studies on the positive effects of women's empowerment, so to be able to participate in an institute focused solely on this issue is truly a blessing. Every woman at this institute brings a unique perspective to the table and being exposed to these different views has been an awesome learning opportunity.

A lot of our sessions are centered on the idea of being a global citizen. As I hear the stories of these women and their cultures I see the many values we share. When I learn of these commonalities I move closer to identifying myself as a global citizen.

I went into this experience thinking I would be a mentor to two international participants, but rather I have learned that the participants are mentoring me. Their sharings are teaching me what it means to be a leader, social activist, friend, and student. I never would have thought that I would have formed the friendships I have with other mentors and participants of this program. I believe I will stay in touch with many of these young women for years to come, and I know that if I were to visit any of their home countries I would be welcomed with open arms and beautiful smiles.

This desire to obtain a global perspective is not new to me. For as long as I can remember I have been interested in the different cultural practices of nations from all over the world. This institute is the perfect segue to my studying abroad this fall. In less than two months I will be studying at Al Akawayn University in Morocco. This is one of Saint Mary's newer programs and I am excited to test it out. Even though I do not speak Arabic of French I am eager to go to Morocco to learn about different traditions and see the architecture. Morocco is an Islamic nation and I am looking forward to learning more about Islam and broadening my global lens.

—Kaitlyn Rabach ’15
Political science and women’s and gender studies major
Muskegon, Michigan