Being exposed to confidence and accomplishment can go a long way toward young people envisioning those qualities in themselves.
Instilling that seeing-is-believing mindset through role models is what inspired Bri Spalaris to launch one of the newest student organizations on campus – Women in Business.
“I’ve always been role-model oriented,” the junior marketing major said. “Mentors have played an important part in my development as a person and student, and I thought exposing female role models to students in the College of Business would benefit many.”
Women in Business, which was sanctioned as a campus student organization in December, is open to female and male students in the business school. Its goal is to further women’s knowledge on how to succeed as professionals by exposing more undergraduate females to women professionals through networking, workshops and speaker series.
Bri said Women in Business was borne out of a first-semester business fraternity meeting where Dean Wendy York introduced herself to members of Delta Sigma Pi.
“I was inspired by what she said about underrepresented groups. As she was telling her story I could tell how sincerely motivated she was to improve our college,” Bri said. “Dean York exhibited a determination to raise the bar here and wanted us to be part of that journey. I can’t emphasize enough how motivated I was hearing a woman in leadership so confidently stating her case. She put some pep in my step.”
Bri put that motivation to work following a staff meeting of the Student Enrichment Office, where she serves as an intern.
“I realized most of the speeches I’ve heard on campus from people in leadership positions were delivered by men. I asked Helen Diamond Steele (OSE executive director) what opportunities there might be for women speaking on career opportunities, workplace issues and building confidence. She suggested I might consider organizing a group that could expose students to women speaking on those subjects and more.”
Not long after that meeting, Bri tapped into some Delta Sigma Pi acquaintances and started organizing. Women in Business has more than 120 members and is led by an executive board that includes Bri as president; Alexandra Dawes, treasurer; Makenna Leyden, events chair; Emily Simpson, public relations chair; Madison Hartsock, secretary; Rebecca Emanuel, fundraising chair; and Maggie Vasilopoulos, recruitment chair, with Bailey Whetter providing support for the board.
“We have an ambitious agenda and it involves drawing attention to the importance women play in society and business. Through speakers, panel discussions and workshops, we’re hoping to expose business students to women who will share their experiences on a variety of topics.”
Dean York spoke glowingly of the leadership and motivation Bri and the executive board have exhibited in starting Women in Business.
“I can speak personally about the positive effect mentors had on who I am today as a person and professional,” she said. “These students saw a void and took it upon themselves to address it. That kind of foresight and leadership is admirable. And, the potential Women in Business has for exposing students to successful role models will benefit the College of Business for a long time to come.”
One of the first events the group is planning for this semester is a panel of female faculty members who will share their experiences working in the business world and academia.
Bri said she was fortunate to have mentors in Delta Sigma Pi who helped guide her through her early years at Clemson. She added Women in Business could fill a void for those who didn’t have a role model at Clemson like she did in the business fraternity.
“We (executive board) are really excited about the lasting impact some of us juniors can have through Women in Business in our last three semesters at Clemson,” she said. “Ideally, we’d hope to be back 10 years from now and see that the organization is inspiring and empowering students in ways we had never dreamed of.”
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