Nicole Carter, director of the Wright State University Women’s Center, was researching the retention rates of women of color in college. She was struck by the lack of mentorship opportunities and space for them to come together for a support network.
“I wanted to provide those opportunities and some basic leadership skills,” she said. Carter completed Ph.D. in educational studies and master’s degree in women and gender studies as well as African and African American studies at Eastern Michigan University. Through her studies, she became interested in the experiences of women, specifically women of color in higher education.
Thus, the Women of Color Student Leadership Cohort was born. This is the second year of the cohort, made up of nine women of color who showed interest in learning leadership skills.
The group offers an affirming space where women of diverse cultural backgrounds can connect and celebrate their unique perspectives and experiences at the intersection of race, gender and other identities.
Each year, students in the cohort attend leadership events that encourage discussions about navigating college, professional development and “Finding My Why,” a discussion about personal goals and motivation.
Carter said one of the events she looks forward to is “Speed Femtoring.” Femtoring, she said, is pairing women with other women mentors to discuss their own questions for seven minutes. After each seven-minute segment, participants move to another femtor. Each femtor is a woman of color staff, faculty or community member.
The cohort gathered for a meet-and-greet on Oct. 24. Carter said she looks forward to seeing the students establish relationships with each other and with other women on campus.
“Relationships were so important for me while I was on campus, and I think having these relationships will be helpful for them too,” she said.
This year, the cohort will have another “Finding My Why” workshop, two “Speed Femtoring” sessions, a panel discussion about navigating college, discussions and workshops about leadership and a professional development mini-summit.
Maliya Curington, a returning member of the cohort and peer femtor, said she looks forward to being a part of the cohort again this year.
“Being a part of this cohort is nothing short of a privilege. I hope to gain the tools and support to navigate college and my future endeavors,” said Curington, who majors in psychology. “I also hope to build lifelong friendships with the other ladies within this cohort and potentially become a mentor using all the tools given to me through this amazing opportunity.”