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The Battalion

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The Battalion

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Aggie Women leaders speak at 2021 Women’s Leadership Reception

The+2021+Womens+Leadership+Reception+was+held+on+Thursday%2C+Sept.+2.+The+panel+consisted+of+prominent+female+student+and+campus+leaders%2C+Natalie+Parks%2C+Staci+Rende%26%23160%3Band+Texas+A%26amp%3BM+University+President%2C+Dr.+M+Katherine+Banks.%26%23160%3B
Photo by Abbey Santoro

The 2021 Women’s Leadership Reception was held on Thursday, Sept. 2. The panel consisted of prominent female student and campus leaders, Natalie Parks, Staci Rende and Texas A&M University President, Dr. M Katherine Banks. 

Inspiring Aggie leaders shared their influential stories at the annual 2021 Women’s Leadership Reception at Messina Hof Winery and Resort.

As a collaboration between the Aggie Women Network, Texas A&M University Women’s Resource Center and Messina Hof Winery and Resort, the Women’s Leadership Reception is held annually on the first Thursday of September to celebrate Aggie Women leaders. This year’s event was on Sept. 2 from 5:45 p.m. to 8 p.m., with speakers including A&M President M. Katherine Banks, Student Body President Natalie Parks, University Staff Council President Cynthia Billington and Graduate and Professional Student Body President Staci Rende.

In her keynote speech, President Banks spoke on the resiliency of Aggie Women.

“Resilience is how you work through expected and unexpected parts of life,” Banks said. “There are so many examples of resilience in Aggies’ stories … resiliency is a decision.”

The next steps A&M will take will be working toward escalating A&M as an institution, Banks said.

“I hope we all work together as we elevate this institution,” Banks said. “[Aggies] have a shared dedication to the mission of the school based on our unique traditions and Core Values.”

Rende said her grand vision for A&M is for students to create their own solutions to problems.

“With COVID[-19] we saw a lot of solutions come out through it all,” Rende said. “[A&M] was the first for many different things, we were the first institution to open our rec center in the country, we came up with a lot of different solutions to approach a lot of different challenges that arose in this last year. I hope to look forward and see that we continue to be those trailblazers and be confident in what we do.”

Aggie Women Network board member Heather Wheeler said every year, the Women’s Leadership Reception gets bigger.

“It’s amazing to see how we’ve been having this event for seven years, and every year it gets bigger,” Wheeler said. “For the first time this year, we have women in all the executive leadership positions on campus. I’ve seen some of these student leaders grow as they take these positions, so it’s really cool to see them being honored tonight and everyone listen to what they have to say… I love having the opportunity to amplify their voices.”

Aggie Women Network President-elect Stephanie Murphy said hearing Aggie women leaders’ advice and their relatable struggles help Aggie women in a positive way.

“The speakers here tonight make it easy to relate to them and their stories are so inspirational,” Murphy said. “They make you feel like you’re not alone. Being in this room full of women  makes you feel connected and empowered, and it is such a positive reflection of the Aggie Network … it is so focused in on women supporting other women.”

Murphy said she loves being part of the Aggie Women Network, especially because Aggies in her family attended A&M prior to when women were allowed at the university.

“I’ve always appreciated being part of the Aggie Women Network, both while I was a student here and as an alumna,” Murphy said. “Being part of the Aggie Women Network gives me the chance to give back and help other Aggie Women continue to progress in their careers [who may have fallen behind compared to men].”

The student leaders who spoke at the panel with Banks were just as important as the university president, Murphy said.

“Even though they’re young, their wisdom and their leadership traits are just as impactful as what Dr. Banks shared,” Murphy said.
 

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