How My NeW Chapter Educated Our Peers on Conservatism by Shakira Jackson

I organized a Women in Leadership Ball at the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford to give my peers an opportunity to learn more about how they can improve as leaders, what conservatism means in this day and age, and how to embrace your conservative identity as a woman. It took place on March 22, 2022.

The event was complete with leadership presentations and trainings on how to lead others and discover what kind of leaders we all are as well as food, fames, and more. We hosted different sessions that students could attend during the ball.

One of the sessions that stuck out to me first was the “Gaining Influence When You’re Powerless: The Value of Curiosity” session. The purpose was to learn how conservative leaders do not necessarily need positions of authority or power to be influential. One of our guest speakers shared her personal experiences throughout her undergraduate career navigating leadership roles and cultural immersions; she demonstrated how curiosity is a source of confidence during uncertainty.

One of the group presentations that stood out to me was “Reframing the ‘Greater Good’: Self-Sacrifice vs. Self-Preservation” session, which was structured around women leaders, activists, and human service professionals focusing on serving others and working towards a “greater good.” It was pointed out that, however, as the pandemic has revealed, these positions also experience the greatest amount of burnout due to personal expectations, professional burdens, and systemic abuse. A lot of conservative students now feel they can not do much as a leader because of the pandemic, but this is not true. This presentation aimed to redefine common notions of the “greater good” in an effort to dismantle the idea of self-sacrifice. In doing so, conservative leaders learned about self-preservation in order to better serve not only the people they work with, but, most importantly, themselves. This presentation was led through the lens of a conservative Asian-American woman working in healthcare.

The night concluded with a presentation from Morgonn McMichael, a Turning Point Ambassador and Today is America Representative. McMichael identifies as a Christian conservative, and she spoke about what free speech meant to her and how oftentimes conservatives feel silenced. McMichael shared her pro-life views in an open discussion, and of course, some people disagreed, but she communicated effectively.

Following the event, the NeW board at Pitt Bradford quoted at our reflection meeting, “she came with nothing but facts.” It is our duty to educate, and we can not force anyone to listen, but McMichael was proud of her conservative and pro-life views and sparked a new light on the UPB campus. Everything learned at the ball could be helpful for dealing with everyday life situations, and it encouraged the already existing conservative women leaders to work harder in leading others. It is time that we feel proud of who we are and help our fellow free-thinking sisters feel the same.

Overall, this event helped me become a better leader for NeW and the conservative movement. This will help the chapter move forward because knowing if one is a go-getter, peacemaker, goal-oriented, social leader, etc., will help them to help others figure out what type of leader they are. Overall the ball was designed to help students figure out what kind of leaders they were, what conservatism means today, and what our women can do to embrace their conservatism. We brainstormed the meaning of conservatism in our workshops and what issues pro-life leaders are facing today.

This blog was written by Shakira Jackson, President of NeW at the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford.

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