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Destler Dodge

Empowerment, professionalism and confidence are all qualities we hope to possess. There are multiple organizations and people who aim to guide individuals on their path to success. Many of these organizations will come  together to provide empowerment to women of all ages in an event taking place later this month.

On Feb. 27, the Determined Individuals Victoriously Achieving Success (DIVAS) will be hosting the Sister II Sister Summit in conjunction with other organizations. Candice Baldwin, the Sister II Sister program coordinator, hopes that the summit will provide meaningful information in a safe and understanding environment that is relevant to women of all ages.

“I thought it was a great thing that could resonate with the college students here as well as high school students [and] the community,” Baldwin said.

The summit will feature a litany of workshops to provide practical experience to women at RIT, as well as a luncheon and Q&A session with Kemba Smith.

Smith is a domestic abuse survivor who was arrested for the intent to distribute cocaine in April of 1995. After spending over six years in prison, she was pardoned by President Bill Clinton. Her college boyfriend was heavily abusive and a cocaine ring leader.

Smith’s story is incredibly important, and she now spends her time reaching out to other women to encourage them to avoid negative choices. She also acts as an advocate for women in the criminal justice system. She has received numerous awards, has recently written her memoir called "Poster Child" and will soon have a movie made based on her life.

Aside from the luncheon with Smith, DIVAS will be hosting a variety of workshops aimed at improving the mind, body and spirit of the women in attendance. Some of these workshops include financial literacy, confidence and professionalism. Baldwin is currently working to include a workshop on civil engagement and voter registration, which will attempt to disambiguate the voting process.  

A combination of RIT staff and outside coordinators will be leading the workshops, including representatives from New York Life, a local insurance agency. Workshops on professionalism and confidence will also be led by women who run their own organizations.

DIVAS focuses heavily on women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) majors, as women are often the minority in those fields.

“We’re really working to support women in STEM because they find that they’re one of the few women in their particular major,” Baldwin said. “DIVAS gives them the opportunity to join with other women in the same sort of majors to build trust and to build their own skills.”

Baldwin hopes that in the future the conference can be lengthened to a full day with the inclusion of more workshops.

Students can sign up for either the luncheon or the entire conference through a provided registration link available in the next few weeks. With more sponsorships coming in, Baldwin hopes that the event will be free.

“It’s a really great time to develop and get to learn yourself as well as network with other people,” Baldwin said.

It's a really great time to develop and get to learn yourself.

By bringing together a variety of people and organizations, DIVAS will bring empowerment and inspiration to women at RIT where they can take this knowledge and use it to help them continue to achieve success in their own lives.