Applauding the Scholarship Committee

For their diligence in selecting the 2022 scholarship recipients, we give commendations to the  Scholarship Committee, consisting of Irene Bembry, Connie Fountain, Kim Rostick, Jackie Vento and Dr. Gloria Hilton.  Emily C., Jasmine R., and Julia R., each studying a form of engineering at the University of South Florida in Tampa, were the selected recipients of the financial scholarship awarded by AAUW Tampa, Inc.  During the January 2023 monthly meeting, the trio of recipients participated in an introspective Q&A session and eloquently discussed perspectives on a) their academic journeys as female STEM majors, b) how they gained from being awarded AAUW scholarships, c) the need for seeking mentorship within the field, d) the importance of securing internships that align with their future academic and career plans following graduation, and e) the awesome feat of graduating from college debt-free.  The students’ stories were engaging and highlighted the complexities within their majors and the realities that continued work is needed in promoting women in STEM-focused majors as each student reported only having 2-3 female faculty (out of 30) during their academic program. Thank you Dr. K. Lee-Smith for capturing pictures during the event.   

Submitted by Dr. Demetrix Rostick-Owens  (AAUW Director of Communications)

AAUW Tampa Celebrates the International Day of the Girl Child with a Tea Fundraiser
Written by Dr. Demetrix Rostick-Owens (AAUW Director of Communications)

On a warm fall Florida day, friends, family and members of the American Association of University Women (AAUW) Tampa dazzled in a sea of blue and green for A Celebratory Tea Recognizing the International Day of the Girl Child.  The tea which served as a fundraiser and membership drive for AAUW Tampa raised $1707.36 and welcomed 8 new members, also commemorated the 10th year anniversary of the International Day of the Girl Child, which was established to draw attention to the continued need to increase educational, health, and wellness parity for women and girls around the world. 

Kudos to the visionary host of the fundraiser tea, Ms. Tara Perkins (AAUW Tampa Director of Membership) and the volunteers, who artfully planned and organized the elegant event.  Guests were warmly welcomed into a tea room adorned beautifully with dainty programs; vase table centerpieces including flowers and national and international flags; decorative porcelain tea pots; trays of grapes and cheeses; and a colorful assortment of scones, mini cheese and meat sandwiches placed upon fancy multi-tiered cake stands.  The AAUW Tampa backdrop, encircled by a bountiful display of green, blue and gold balloons was made available for those wanting to capture the moment of the day.   

AAUW Tampa embraces diversity and inclusivity and is proud this event was well attended by a diverse assembly of women and men from various cultures and backgrounds.  The event began with a rousing welcome and invocation from speakers Dr. Gloria Hilton (AAUW Tampa Director of Scholarships) and Reverend Martha Vaguener (AAUW Tampa Member).

  • Hilton opened the event by providing a brief overview of the history of the drinking of tea, which initially began in China as a medicinal drink, before becoming an afternoon tradition for royalty. She remarked, we now can stop and take the time to simply enjoy a cup of tea while being with one another.
  • Reverend Vaguener’s message was timely, as she tapped into the unpredictability of life and our inability to control external factors. Pulling on our collective experiences with Hurricane Ian, Reverend Martha reassuringly reminded while things may be damaged or destroyed during a storm, we still must prepare and rely upon our know-how and abilities to weather the storm.

The remainder of the program commenced and was dynamically moderated by Mrs. Kimberly Rostick (AAUW Tampa Director of Tech Trek), who comprehensively educated the crowd about gender-based discrimination faced by girls and women around the world.   With the pervasiveness of incidents and availability of news stories via social media,

  • Rostick was able to recount in real-time, numerous stories which recently demonstrated the adverse plight of girls and women around the world.
  • Staggeringly, statistics show millions of girls and women continue to face the realities of forced childhood marriage, sexual exploitation, and intimidation or possible death resulting from seeking education or breaking with tradition.

Unfortunately, these outcomes have been widespread and are often left unchecked.  To understand the resources, challenges, and leadership needed to make change, Ms. Rostick engaged in a facilitated conversation with our four-member, intergenerational panel consisting of Dr. Lucinda Hovi (AAUW Tampa Member), Mrs. Sue Morris (Accountant), Ms. Nirmita Roy (USF AAUW Member), and Miss Zahara Narain (Tech Trek Scholarship Recipient). We are appreciative of our panelist who each were asked about and ultimately shared insights on the following topics:

  • Realized Resources and Supports: Our panelist revealed their parents, counselors, principals, and teachers were identified as resources; particularly those who were “very encouraging,” provided alternates to youth that may have limited solutions, and/or those who ensured youth understood the value and necessity of putting forth effort to learn above and beyond one’s perceived abilities.
  • Foreseen Challenges to Growth: Our panelist cited the unintended consequence of educators seeing girls as technically less competent than boys; the emergence of mental health issues and lacking confidence (due to increased social media access), and the all-too real experience of women facing discrimination entering male-dominated arenas, were seen as challenges which negatively impacted the growth of girls and women.
  • Proposed Ways to Lead Change: Our panelist suggested that leading change comes in many forms and may be subtle (through conversations or encouraging question asking) or more structured (through mentorship or shadowing opportunities). The objective, however, would be to begin the process of teaching young girls “difficult topics” and getting the familiar with subjects such as science, technology, engineering, and math as early as kindergarten through adulthood, with an emphasis on the middle school years. 

A wealth of knowledge was shared during this tea!  Likewise a great day of fun and fellowship also occurred.  Before Ms. Perkins gave closing remarks, special prizes were given to Ms. Verneka Rhodes, the winner of the Daintiest Tea Cup and Mother and Daughter pair Mckenzie and Maggie, winners of the Cutest Hats contest.  Additional winners sitting at the tables labeled “France” and “Switzerland” were also bestowed gifts as well for being seated at the mystery tables with hidden breast cancer awareness ribbons under the skirt. 

We look forward to recognizing the #DayoftheGirl for a full year through our research, education, and activism. Until we meet again, have a fantastic day!