The Stony Brook University Career Center and College of Business partnered together with the support of Chief Diversity Officer Judith Brown Clarke, from the Office of Diversity, Inclusion and Intercultural Initiatives, to send 29 undergraduate students to Washington, D.C., for a networking event for underrepresented communities this past October.
The Forté Undergraduate Women of Color Leadership Symposium hosted students in the country’s capital for a nationwide conference. Forté was designed for women to have a supportive environment where they can learn and share their experiences from their professional world; this event focused on young women of color. The event connected peers from other institutions and working professionals that found success across a variety of industries.
There are many challenges that women of color face which make it difficult to navigate through the working world. Forté created a safe space for women to share their experiences and struggles.
“The Forté Women of Color Leadership Symposium was designed to showcase influential women of color in business, connect students across the country, and introduce viable internship and full-time opportunities with our corporate partners,” said Leah Lattimore, director of Undergraduate Programs at Forté.
“Students were able to learn about various career paths and apply others’ life lessons to their own journeys. We are grateful to our academic and corporate partners, especially Deloitte who hosted the event, and look forward to engaging more of our students this year. Stony Brook’s representation at the symposium was remarkable; the institution’s commitment to supporting more women leading was certainly inspiring and the attendees were highly impressive,” said Lattimore.
Stony Brook University had the largest representation at the symposium. Of the 29 students who went, six were international students and four were freshmen. Stony Brook’s attendees’ feedback showed their favorite part of the program was the networking opportunities offered by the program. The main topics of discussion at the panels were about manifesting a meaningful career path, strategic networking, authenticity, and intentionality. More than 95 percent of the students who attended shared that they were able to connect with two or more employers at the event.
“This event was an amazing opportunity to network and meet new people,” said Tiye Grant, a business management major and marketing intern at the Career Center. “As a Black woman, it was extremely important for me to go to the event — not only for the experience and knowledge, but also for the memories. I made so many new friends and connected with so many professional women of color; I am so glad I went!”
Diversity is an extremely important topic at Stony Brook University and their Partnership Council companies. Focusing on diversity in the workplace increases creativity, encourages different perspectives and leads to better problem-solving capabilities. Valuing diversity means providing those who are underrepresented a platform to speak on, and opening more doors so that all people have a chance to succeed no matter their race or gender.
“Listening to Black women taking over businesses is so empowering,” said Anne Decossard, a business management major at Stony Brook University. “Each one of the stories was unique and truly amazing. I am now, more than ever, more confident about my ability to succeed.”
Attending this event provided students with the opportunity to learn about different career options they had not previously explored. Melissa Perez, a third-year biology major shared, “It was amazing! As a STEM major going in, I had felt I probably wouldn’t have had much to say in the conversation or a seat at the table to discuss anything that pertains to business considering my background. However, upon hearing the panelists and experiencing the entire conference, I had learned valuable life advice and walked away knowing that I would come back to Stony Brook and change my major. Attending the conference allowed me to see, there were places for me and people like me who had interests like me in these powerful positions, especially as a woman of color. I am forever grateful!”
To learn more about future events, please visit the Career Center and check Handshake for more information. Stony Brook University students have access to events and resources from the Forté Foundation through the Career Center and College of Business.
— Joseph D’Alessandro and Tiye Grant