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SMC student studies world female leaders

Jillian Barwick | Tuesday, May 1, 2012

For Saint Mary’s junior Lindsay Ellis, summer break will be an opportunity to explore the cultures of young female leaders from around the world.

After receiving an email from the Center for Women’s Intercultural Leadership (CWIL) regarding new employment opportunities on campus, Ellis said she was intrigued by the chance to interact with international female leaders.

“I am really excited to share my culture with other women leaders,” Ellis said. “With this opportunity, I will be able to find out how different I am from these other young women and how our cultures compare and contrast.”

Ellis will participate in a study at Saint Mary’s that examines undergraduate women leaders from Burma, Egypt, Libya, Mongolia and TunisiaUnited States State Department’s Ellis. Ellis said the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs selected Saint Mary’s for a grant to conduct the study.

Titled “Educating Tomorrow’s Global Women Leaders,” the institute will consist of four weeks of intensive studies of American women’s history, leadership and intercultural skills. This will be followed by a week of educational travel, culminating in a conference in Washington, D.C., Ellis said.

“I am participating in the four weeks as a student mentor on campus, beginning on June 16 and ending on July 14,” she said. “I will be sharing a room with two international participants where we will participate in all of the activities. I will basically be an American host to the participants.”

Hosted through CWIL, the institute helps participants to learn about the United States and to get to know their peers, Ellis said.

“The program is designed through CWIL to include student mentors like myself so that the participants will have us as their American tour guides and mentors during their stay here,” Ellis said.

Strong leadership skills and excellent intercultural competence were prerequisites for becoming student mentors, Ellis said.

“I am a resident advisor in McCandless Hall, and women’s studies is one of my minors,” Ellis said. “This opportunity seemed to fit right in with what I like to do.”

Ellis said she thought her experience as a Resident Advisor strengthened her application for the CWIL program.

“We do diversity training and are involved with a lot of conflict resolution,” she said. “We also plan many events throughout the year, so all of that sort of molds us into people who fit the job description perfectly. I can’t wait to meet the other girls in my section, because I know we all bring something different to the table.”

In addition to learning about other female leaders and their cultures, Ellis said she and other mentors will receive room and board as well as a stipend for their participation in the study.

“I found the incentive in applying was that I’d be able to be back on campus for a few weeks and get to travel around while meeting new friends,” Ellis said. “The opportunity to travel to places like New York, Boston and Washington, D.C. all in one summer will be amazing.”

The participants and their mentors will also make weekend trips from South Bend to Chicago, Ellis said.

“This opportunity to travel and get to know women from other countries is going to be an experience I will never forget,” she said. “I am really looking forward to meeting all the participants and learning more than I ever imagined … I think because I love Saint Mary’s so much, I always want to share that love with new people, so this is the perfect opportunity for me.”