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College to engage students in business-related workshop series

| Tuesday, January 23, 2018

The Women’s Entrepreneurship Initiative at Saint Mary’s will host a six-week series titled “Entre. Lead. Her.,” designed to help students cultivate a personal and professional brand, develop leadership skills and learn innovative strategies towards success. Running from Jan. 25, this program will feature guest speakers and interactive workshops addressing topics such as team building, pitch presentation, the benefits of podcasting, stress reduction, positive social impact and the importance of empathy in the business world.

Joan McClendon, the current director of The Women’s Entrepreneurship Initiative (WEI) said she initially became involved as a community member participating in the organization’s 2010 pilot program.

“I came in [to the WEI] and participated in a leadership style session, and it changed my life because it made me feel as a woman that I had purpose and I had meaning,” McClendon said. “We don’t always have these opportunities to meet with other women to explore who we truly are. That session really transformed me, and I am still friends with the women that I’ve connected with through the WEI.”

Since her first experience seven years ago with the WEI, McClendon said her exploration of leadership has continued through her time spent as the associate director, and now project director of the WEI. As director, McClendon is responsible for scheduling events, such as the upcoming workshop series, that will help women in the Saint Mary’s and South Bend community navigate leadership roles in their personal and professional lives.

“My passion is to bring the community of women into Saint Mary’s College and have them experience the same thing I’ve come to learn: that we are a college of amazing and incredible women,” McClendon said.

Though the WEI is open to all Saint Mary’s students and communities outside of the college, McClendon said most of the individuals involved are graduates of SPARK, a Saint Mary’s program providing that assists women who earn low wages in starting their own businesses. “Entre. Lead. Her.” will offer a chance for graduates and others to scale up their businesses and continue building a brand, McClendon said.

“Part of the series will work on creating and refining a pitch, a skill that I think all the women at Saint Mary’s College could benefit from learning,” McClendon said. “These sessions are not your typical business classes, but they will provide you with the things that are going to give you an edge in your personal life and in your business.”

In order to make the upcoming series more accessible, McClendon said the WEI has made admission free for students and continues to offer availability to the general public. She said attendance will be capped at 40 to keep sessions personal and thorough. McClendon said she hopes each participant will walk away from this experience with a better understanding of her leadership style and the process of creating a business, for they will have had the opportunity to grow personally.

“That’s why we start these sessions by sharing Sr. Madeleva Wolff’s words on discovery,” McClendon said. “‘We promise you discovery: the discovery of yourselves, the discovery of the universe, and your place in it.’”

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