Rebekah Smith, Staff Writer
In 2006, the Council for IWU Women was established to help promote confidence and to provide connections and networking opportunities for female students at Illinois Wesleyan. Every year since, there has been a Summit during the spring semester and one woman from each class is chosen among the applicants and awarded with a scholarship.
This year’s scholarship winners were Annie Kehler ’15, Jenny Prochotsky ’16, Tanya Gupta ’17, and Ayrren Calhoun ’18. They were chosen as women who show passion in their personal and professional lives and who have a desire to become leaders and make an impact in the world.
“I chose to apply for the IWU Council for Women Scholarship because I wanted to immerse my self in the experience of the summit in all possible ways. It was an amazing event, and I was so lucky to be able to participate,” said Tanya Gupta, a Psychology major. “The best part was meeting the incredible IWU women from years past, and hearing about their experiences as women in college and in the world. They all had wonderful words of encouragement and advice.”
The Council for IWU Women seeks to empower Titan women to pursue their futures with confidence and courage. “I think it’s really generous of the Council for IWU Women to offer scholarships each year, so for the past 3 years I’ve applied for it,” said Jenny Prochotsky, a Biology major. “I really enjoy their questions, especially the ‘most inspiring woman’ one. It was really easy for me to brag about how strong and positive my mom is, and how she’s raised me into a woman I’m proud to be because of her strength.”
During the Council for IWU Women Summit, successful alumnae from various fields and careers came to serve as mentors and advisors for current IWU women. They gave speeches, spoke on panels, and held practice interviews.
“My favorite parts of the summit were the discussions and lectures we received that Saturday,” said Ayrren Calhoun, a Psychology major. “I loved all the other days, but that one in particular really showed me that it is possible to have room full of successful women willing and able to help younger generations.”
As a part of the application process, women are asked to describe what they have done during their time at Illinois Wesleyan. This task can be challenging to put into words, but it is a way for women to celebrate their accomplishments.
“I chose to apply for the scholarship because I’d noticed a trend in myself to continually tear myself down for what I can’t do, rather than notice my accomplishments,” said Annie Kehler, a Political Science major. “I think it’s really important for women in particular to take a step out of their comfort zone and say, ‘I’m proud of who I am and what I’ve accomplished.’ It can be really awkward answering questions like ‘What have you done during your time at IWU to help people?’ and you think, ‘Well… Nothing in comparison to the 17 year old that just won the Nobel Peace Prize so…’ But we have to fight the constant negativity we tend to be surrounded by and be proud of who we are and what we’ve become during our time here. So I sat down and forced myself to recount what I’ve done during my time at IWU. There are so many amazing women here. I’m so proud to attend a school that fosters strong female students and activists.”