Sunday, November 25, 2018

Reflection on my journey as WomenNC scholar 2018

Ring, ring, ring: Bennett Belle Patience.
About 4 months ago I embarked on the journey as WomenNC scholar.  This is a lifetime experience and it has taken my social work education to another level.  There is no doubt that the WomenNC mentors are sowing seeds of greatness in us, the scholars.  Looking back from when I started this journey, I have established productive relationships, my confidence was boosted,  time management skills are even better.  The introductions and brief summaries that we made to the Board Members made me realize who I am and what is my mission in WomenNC. They say that iron sharpens iron, there is no other choice from our mentors and volunteers at womenNC. Success is not an option.  I am a WomenNC scholar with a mission.

WomenNC gave me a lifetime opportunity to attend a grand Luncheon at the Governor's Executive Mansion to celebrate what I call 10/10, The 10th Anniversary of WomenNC and Presentation of the ten 2018 scholars to the Board members present.  Bennett College for Women scholars, myself included are researching on Perinatal Care of Incarcerated Women.  Each scholar was assigned a subtopic to research on and I am researching what prenatal care medical examinations are available.  We want to know the screening and treatment for high-risk pregnancies and HIV testing.  we are interested to find out exercise and safety that are in place for the pregnant inmates.  What delivery arrangements are there and is the jail staff trained for complications or an emergency?  It was disturbing to find out women were shackled during delivery until  The Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP)  stepped in.  September 2008 BOP ended shackling pregnant inmates as a matter of routine in all federal correctional facilities.  What a relief to know that such a dangerous and inhuman act of shackling a woman in labor was abolished at least in all federal correctional facilities. 
Thanksgiving is a time to give thanks.  I am thankful for WomenNC who took me out of my comfort zone and exposed me to a whole new world of Advocacy.  I visited polling stations and transported some Bennett belles to VOTE.  I am thankful for my TeamBennett which includes Dr. VJ, Africa, Aravia, Zybrea, and Alexis.  I am thankful for all the wonderful ladies and gentlemen who work tirelessly for Women in NC.  I am thankful for it all.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

WomenNC Update

Last week, I had the opportunity to attend the 10th Annual WomenNC Luncheon at the Governor's Mansion and it was amazing! My experience with WomenNC has been phenomenal and I am thankful for the opportunity to network and learn with a group of  hardworking women while advocating for our rights. The research is my favorite part as it is preparing me for my career as a professional researcher. Thank you so much WomenNC for this wonderful learning experience. Happy Holidays!

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Why I'm Thankful for Mentors, Research Beginnings and New Friends

My experience with WomenNC so far has been nothing short of wonderful! Last Thursday, I was honored to be able to attend the Advisory Board Luncheon. While it was not my first time in the Executive Mansion, it is not often that one gets the opportunity to experience such a meaningful private event. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know the affiliates  of WomenNC more intimately. It certainly made for enriching dining conversation.

I have now properly begun my independent research on the topic of the gender wage gap and the lack of women in high level executive positions in Durham, North Carolina. I have found that I am especially interested in these issues, as they are connected to the broader struggle for intersectional women's rights. This Thanksgiving, I am certainly thankful for my mentor, Leslie Turner! She has been extremely helpful in guiding me in my work thus far.  I've enjoyed our many phone conversations and coffee meetings.  I have since revised my research question and outline, and have continued my collecting of data for my literature review.  I am looking forward to taking the next steps in turning my rough research into a compelling and informative rough draft.

 A highlight of my participation as a WomenNC scholar is the relationships I have been able to take part in. The program directors have been unspeakably supportive and hands-on in their approach.  I have also been fortunate to network with the community-particularly with the Durham Women's Commission. Beyond that, it has been truly lovely to build friendships with my fellow scholars!

WomenNC Update - Sara

Over the past two months, I have gotten into the full swing of being a WomenNC scholar. Being a scholar has yielded many new experiences for me. For example, beginning the research process has given me a lot of insight into what career researchers do on a regular basis. Though I’ve done literature reviews and assisted with research before, this is the first time I’ve done research independently. Obtaining an exemption from the IRB (Institutional Review Board) has been a lengthy process: writing up consent forms, survey and interview questions, and corresponding with IRB representatives at my school. Fortunately, with the help of my mentor, I’ve obtained IRB approval and have begun to distribute my survey and conduct in-person interviews!

Another aspect of the program I’ve really enjoyed so far have been the opportunities to interact with my fellow WomenNC Scholars, as well as other members of the WomenNC community. Learning about the other scholars’ topics and the work they are doing is very interesting, and inspires me to push forward with my own research. I’ve also been able to learn from other WomenNC affiliates and the experiences they have had while promoting the advancement of gender equality.

I’m so excited to continue with my research and share what I learn with everyone!

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

WomenNC Research Project Update and Reflection - Amelia Steinbach

I have now been a scholar with WomenNC for about two months, and have enjoyed every minute. Over the last two months, I have been particularly grateful for my bond with the other scholars. That bond has made exceptional experiences, such as the UN Association Dinner at the NC State Faculty Club and our lunch at the North Carolina Executive Mansion last Thursday, that much more enjoyable. I am also very thankful for the support of the WomenNC network; I know that many of WomenNC’s affiliates are volunteers, and I greatly appreciate their dedication to the scholars’ research projects.

After discussions with several healthcare providers in the local Durham area, two major policy needs have presented themselves as a priority. The first policy issue is a dire need for affordable housing options in Durham. Many women experiencing intimate partner violence (IPV) are constrained by the fact that they do not have the financial resources to leave the abusive relationship and living situation. The second policy issue is the Ryan White grant funding that is allocated by both the federal government and the North Carolina general assembly to various entities across the state, including healthcare providers at Duke. While this funding is absolutely essential in terms of providing healthcare for HIV-positive individuals, there are still problems identified by those providers who work most closely with the grant funding and the patients whom it assists.

I am currently working through a literature review to identify the specific statistics relating to the issues of IPV and HIV/AIDS in Durham, as well as the state of affordable housing projects and work being done to address problems with Ryan White grant funding. In the coming weeks before the rough draft is due, I will be coordinating with my advisor, Felicia Browne, and completing my literature review and conversations with local leaders in order to write a sufficient rough draft for December 14th.

Friday, November 16, 2018

The Communities I Am a Part Of

Just yesterday, I, along with the otherWomenNC scholars, had the opportunity to attend a luncheon at the North Carolina Executive Mansion where we connected with the broader WomenNC community of mentors, advisors, and advocates. Inside the North Carolina Executive Mansion, I was awestruck at the well-coordinated interior furniture, the monogrammed silverware, and the tradition woven into every aspect of the building. More important than the elegant staircase and delicious butternut squash soup, I felt the wonder of the WomenNC community of diverse individuals all in the fight for gender equality. I learned of the generations of WomenNC scholars before me as well as every individual's dedication, from years to decades long, to the cause. Additionally, from chatting with my fellow WomenNC scholars, I am driven by their thoughtfulness and courage in pursuing gender equality, across women in executive leadership positions to menstrual hygiene products in public universities. In this community of fellows, I am empowered to research and advocate for gender equality in my own area - Computer Science (CS) education.

More specifically, I am deeply engaged with CS education in Durham. As I continue to mentor middle school students with marginalized identities after school in mobile app development, I am interested in the access and pedagogy of in-school CS education, with a special focus on the representation of women and students of color. After speaking with local Durham CS teachers, I am aggregating and analyzing trends from conversations to provide a high-level overview of CS education within Durham. As a student in a local university, I am immensely cognizant and thoughtful of the complexities of the Durham community and my position of privilege within it. While speaking to Durham CS teachers, I have prepared an interview sheet of questions to insure that I ensure that I am valuing their time in proper ways, for they have one of the most interesting and important jobs in our society - self-empowering our future citizens and leaders.

Today, I am feeling an immense sense of gratitude for two communities - WomenNC and Durham. Both of these communities have such unique gifts and challenges that I hope to contribute to and leverage for positive change.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Hopes and Goals for CSW Program Experience

Hello, my name is Africa Coardes. I am a junior social work major at Bennett College for Women in Greensboro, NC. I am excited about being a WomenNC CSW Scholar because I am looking forward to implementing research under Dr. Valerie Johnson concerning women rights. I have been looking for ways to get involved in research during my matriculation at Bennett and I am ecstatic about finally having the opportunity to do so. My group will provide research on perinatal care for incarcerated women in both Guilford and Forsyth County. By the end of the program I hope to be transformed from a scholar into an independent researcher. I will use this opportunity as a stepping stone as I hope to participate in more research in the future. As an aspiring social worker I am also looking forward to acquiring more leadership training and advocacy skills.

L (Africa Coardes) R (Patience Bowora, classmate/friend)