News, On Campus

Environmental Activist and Slam Poet to Speak at 2022 Virtual Women’s Summit

The 2022 Boston College Women’s Summit, which is set to take place on Feb. 5, will be jam-packed with keynote speakers, workshops, and the opportunity to build new relationships and skills.

“[The Women’s Summit is] designed to empower all attendees by connecting them with a community of fellow classmates, speakers, and guests,” Caitlyn Spuckes, one of the co-directors of this year’s summit and SSW ’23, said. “It is intended to create spaces where meaningful conversations happen and change-making is inspired.”

The annual summit will be held virtually for the second year in a row. Spuckes said she hopes the virtual format will allow more people to access the keynote speeches and workshops while keeping the community safe.

“While there is a certain energy that comes with gathering in person, we are thrilled to have members of our team with the expertise to coordinate a day that is empowering and impactful while still prioritizing the safety of our community,” Spuckes said.

Leah Thomas and Sarah Kay will be this year’s keynote speakers. Thomas is an environmentalist from California who advocates for environmental justice and inclusivity, according to BC’s website. Her advocacy efforts have been recognized by the Biden administration, and she has also written a book titled The Intersectional Environmentalist: How to Dismantle Systems of Oppression to Protect People + Planet that is set to be released in March.

Kay is a slam poet who gained national attention for her 2011 TED Talk, “If I Should Have a Daughter,” which focused on female empowerment. Kay also founded and co-directs Project VOICE—a program aimed at empowering elementary and middle school students through workshops and performances.

Lauren Vanderslice, MCAS ’24, said she signed up for the summit after hearing Kay would be a keynote speaker.

“I heard [Kay’s] TED Talk where she read one of her poems,” Vanderslice said “Her poems are very engaging and powerful, and the way she delivers them just draws you in immediately.”

Grace Lau, MCAS ’22, joined the Women’s Center her freshman year and has attended the summit ever since. According to Lau, Kay was also a keynote speaker three years ago.

Lau said that Kay’s poetry allowed her to be more open to creativity.

“I remember feeling so open and strong and excited to be creative and grow,” Lau said. “I’m excited to maybe hear if she has the same kinds of things to say, and now that I’m a senior I’m sure it’ll hit me differently, because I’m in a much different place in my life.”

The summit will also feature various workshops scheduled throughout the day led by a team of BC students, alumni, and those with established careers.

“Our keynote speakers and workshop leaders and their willingness to be in discussion with passionate students is really exciting,” Spuckes said.

One workshop that will be offered this year is titled “Carving Out Your Path Towards a Meaningful Career,” led by Catherine Larrabee. Larrabee, BC ’16, will address questions having to do with post-grad life and navigating through the endless world of jobs to find the right career path for BC students.

“Our mission is to encourage all attendees to explore new and challenging perspectives, formulate goals, and utilize the summit as a launching pad for future action,” Spuckes said.

Lau said she is looking to this summit for guidance on her future profession as she enters the workforce next year.

“I think it’s important because it helps develop that sense of community and helps college women to grow and see new perspectives around what the world can look like after they graduate,” Lau said.

Vanderslice underscored the summit’s importance, as it allows women at BC to learn about and interact with successful female professionals, she said.

“You don’t always see a lot of women in strong leadership positions,” Vanderslice said. “I think it’ll be really exciting to hear from women who are doing really important things.”

Vanderslice said she is also looking forward to connecting with fellow female students.

“I think there will be a really strong sense of camaraderie,” she said. “That’s something I really want to be a part of.”

Through the summit, Spuckes said she hopes participants leave feeling empowered and motivated, as well as gain the ability to recognize that they are part of something larger than themselves.

“Our intention is to have this year’s Women’s Summit be a space that highlights people in our community who are doing important work and who can give us tangible tools to make movement and create change,” she said.

Featured Image by Ikram Ali / Heights Senior Staff

January 31, 2022