‘MissEducation’ encourages women of color to define themselves

Quiche Matchen

From a young age, many women of color are told who or what they should be.

The MissEducation Symposium conference held Friday at the Carroll Knicely Conference Center looked to help women change that, encouraging them to define themselves and helping them achieve their academic and professional goals.

The title of the conference is based off of rhythm and blues singer Lauryn Hill’s album, “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill” and Carter G. Woodson’s book “The Mis-Education of the Negro.”

Tiffany Polite, assistant director for the office of institutional diversity and inclusion, said the book talks about how black people go to school, but they only receive book knowledge.

“Whatever those missing pieces are for students, I want them to have the opportunity to get those missing pieces,” she said.

Polite said the conference was made possible by a WKU Sisterhood grant aimed to help women of color achieve higher retention and graduation rates.

She didn’t just want to call it a women of color conference. She said that all women were welcome.

Polite said that wasn’t what the conference was about — rather, it was about giving female students of color the opportunity to hear from people like themselves.

“I want female students to hear about professional development, health and wellness, healthy relationships and things like that from other women of color,” she said. “We get this information, but it’s not often from women that look like us.”

Topics of the sessions ranged from building healthy relationships to building a legacy.

Lynne Holland, director of the center for career and professional development, taught the vision and legacy building portion of the conference.

“Oftentimes we permit other people to define us, and we take their image of us and we transpose it upon ourselves,” Holland said.

Holland said the activities that the group did that day would help them to move away from that.

“When I see you, I see something totally different,” she said. “So I want you to take my image of you, not Rick Ross, Lil Wayne or any of those other people. I want you to take my image of you because I am you.”

Holland said women have many people defining them and what they should be from a young age.

“My question to you is, ‘Who are you?’” she said.

Holland then had the students make long-term and short-term goals for themselves to accomplish in the form of a poster.

The students were told to hang up their vision posters so that they could look at them every day to remind themselves of their goals and vision.

Louisville sophomore Sharika Hollingsworth said she was influenced by the conference.

“It inspired me to do better in school,” Hollingsworth said. “It motivated me that I can go beyond the stereotypes of a black woman.”