Randolph-Macon College students Taylor Carman ’21 and Kirsten Whittaker ’21 were among 70 women invited to attend “Starting Now: Women’s Leadership Development Summit for VFIC Students,” a leadership summit that was held November 7-9, 2019 at the Omni Hotel in Richmond, Virginia. Organized by the Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges (VFIC), “Starting Now” was created to help prepare female undergraduates at VFIC schools for leadership roles in personal and professional ventures.
The Socialization of Leadership
Led by women from business, higher education, and public service agencies, “Starting Now” provided women and leaders of all ages, backgrounds, and professions the opportunity to practice what some refer to as the socialization of leadership: sharing ideas, developing strategies, encouraging growth, and instilling confidence. “Starting Now” was sponsored by generous support from Altria, the Council of Independent Colleges, Dominion Energy, Atlantic Union Bank, and the Jessie Ball duPont Fund.
Developing Strategies for Effective Change
Conference participants engaged in forums, discussions and workshops, including “#Me Too: The Responsibilities of Leaders to Prevent Workplace Harassment,” “How to Network,” and “Women to Women: Empowering Your Career.” They also toured the State Capitol and the newly dedicated Virginia Women’s Monument, as well as the corporate offices of Dominion Energy and Altria.
Taylor Carman ’21
A biology and chemistry major, Carman enjoyed meeting “so many amazing women from different colleges and universities across Virginia as well as many inspiring women who are leaders in the workforce.” Participating in workshops and networking taught her valuable lessons “that will not only help me throughout the rest of my college career, but also the rest of my life.”
On campus, Carman is a Wornom Fellow—one of seven pre-med students who receive a full-tuition scholarship each year thanks to the Dr. Paul H. Wornom Pre-Medicine Endowment. The endowment also provides research, internship, and shadowing opportunities; and preparation for the Medical College Admissions Test. A member of Kappa Alpha Theta fraternity and the Pre-Health Society, she also serves as a chemistry tutor in the Higgins Academic Center. And she is a New Student Transition Captain—a year-long source of support for new Yellow Jackets.
“We also listened to guest speakers—women with successful careers—and toured businesses that have great representation of women in their company leadership,” says Whittaker. “Two takeaways for me are practices I learned that I can use in my daily life. The first is mindfulness. As a busy person, I found this to be incredibly valuable!” Whittaker also learned how to give an elevator pitch—a 30-second summary of herself, her history and her goals. “I think it’s important to consider how you’re presenting yourself to others at all times,” she notes.
Whittaker, a Wornom Fellow, is co-president of the Commuter Student Association and a long-time member of the Hanover Concert Band, a community band in Ashland.
About the VFIC
Established in 1952, the VFIC aims to advance the distinctive values and strengths of the 15 colleges across Virginia that make up its consortium. The VFIC accomplishes this mission by generating financial support for its schools: more than $160 million since its inception. Leveraging those resources, the VFIC establishes and administers a range of programs that help its schools attract the best and brightest, create a vibrant and rigorous educational experience, prepare students for a fulfilling career, and cultivate responsible leaders for the communities they call home.