The Colgate Scene
November 2005

Women's summit offers mentorship, chance to reconnect
Nora Leary '82, Alicia Gleason '08, and Sandra Hall '76 (left to right) talk during Colgate's first women's summit. [Photos by Aubrey Graham '05]

Sherry Swirsky remembers being a senior at Colgate in 1973 and wishing for some kind of mentor to help her understand her career options.

But as one of the first undergraduate women admitted to Colgate (she was one of just seven women students in her class), there simply weren't any alumnae yet to advise her on making the transition from the classroom to the workplace.

So when she was invited to participate in Colgate's first women's summit, she jumped at the chance.

"The opportunity to give just one young woman the guidance that I didn't get -- that's the reason I came back," she said.

Swirsky, now a law partner in Philadelphia, and about 40 other alumnae traveled to Hamilton from all over the country to meet and share their wisdom with approximately 90 current students at the gathering titled "Life Choices, Our Voices: Colgate Women Talk."

Organized by the women's studies program and the alumni affairs office, the event was the result of the efforts of a group of interested people from across the university, including the ALANA Cultural Center, the counseling center, and the Center for Student Leadership and Student Involvement, among others.

The day began with a series of sessions at which alumnae explored a wide range of thought-provoking issues including work/family/life balance, eating disorders, the "glass ceiling" and the "sticky floor," and motherhood, among others.

At lunch, undergraduates discussed their own experiences at Colgate and had one-on-one conversations with alumnae before listening to a keynote speech by President Rebecca Chopp.

Next up were smaller group discussions about topics such as attending medical school, giving back to the community, and developing financial survival skills. The summit ended in the evening with a networking reception in the Coop.

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