Lester facilitates empowering programming for 2021 Women's Heritage Month
- Mary Bidwell
- Tuesday, March 23rd, 2021
During her undergraduate years as a social work student, Robin Lester discovered her desire to make connections and help others. As a graduate student working in the WKU Intercultural Student Engagement Center (ISEC), Lester is honing her skills in assisting others and facilitating engaging programming.
After graduating with her bachelor’s, Lester began pursuing a master's degree in Student Affairs in Higher Education at WKU, a path that continues to offer opportunities to both apply her coursework and reach out to the Hilltopper community. As Lester nears the end of her final semester of graduate school, she leads the charge in implementing events for Women's Heritage Month - with a focus on promoting confidence, self-care and empowerment for women on campus.
"Promoting female empowerment and inclusiveness, that's always been a passion of mine," Lester said. "I was always in women's empowerment groups in middle and high school. When [ISEC Program Coordinator Lamario Moore and ISEC Executive Director Dr. Martha Sales] asked if I wanted to do it, I said ‘yes’ without any question."
Lester is no stranger to creating engaging, student-focused programs within ISEC and the broader campus community. Following up on her work coordinating LGBTQ+ History Month activities last semester, she wanted to highlight Women's Heritage Month on campus. After last year's events were interrupted by COVID-19, Lester was determined to make this year's events happen.
When developing plans for this year's celebration, Lester drew inspiration from the prior committee's notes in addition to her own ideas. She also requested event suggestions from students and sought out collaborations with campus organizations. Through her efforts, the final calendar of events included ten sponsoring organizations and a variety of events open to the WKU community.
One of the month's first events occurred on International Women's Day. Titled "The Seeds Implanted In Me," the experience was an opportunity for students to uplift themselves and one another with positive, encouraging words. Attendees wrote letters to themselves, listened to the words of ISEC Executive Director Dr. Martha Sales, and ripped up paper plates with things they wanted to let go of - such as insecurities, fears or judgments.
Near the middle of Women's Heritage Month, ISEC hosted a memorial balloon release in honor of Breonna Taylor and all women who have suffered police brutality. Along with the balloon release, individuals read poetry and sang songs.
“[March 11 was] a peaceful day. It was a moment for all of us as women to come together," Lester said.
Finally, Lester highlighted the “Women of Worth Dinner” on March 26, one of the final events for Women’s Heritage Month scheduled at the Knicely Conference Center.
"That's another time where I feel like we're going to really focus in on inclusiveness and everyone coming together - no matter your background, race, gender, religion, ethnicity, anything. It's a night for us. We're all women and we're here to uplift one another and be here to support one another," Lester said.
Through programs such as Women's Heritage Month and LGBTQ+ History Month, Lester takes practices from her master's degree studies and applies them to educational programming for the WKU community.
"I chose to go into Student Affairs because I always had a passion for helping people. I've always been drawn to the helping field. However, I feel like there is a need for women, and there is a need for women who look like me - in this field."
Lester wanted to pursue a field that allowed her to directly interact with students, such as academic advising, program coordination or student success coaching. Her desire to educate and inspire others also has roots in her undergraduate experience at WKU.
"Coming in as a first-generation college student attending a predominantly white institution, I didn't know who I could go to, who I could talk to, and if they would understand me and actually look at me as Robin. At WKU, I found faculty and staff members that helped me and believed in the dreams and the goals that I had set for myself," Lester said.
Lester wants to help pave the way for the next generation of students.
"Before coming [to WKU], I had five areas I was interested in. Now, I have my focus and my purpose of what I want to do," Lester said.
As she finishes her final semester and looks toward graduation, Lester intends to pursue a career supporting others as an academic advisor, student success coach or planner of multicultural affairs programming.
To learn more about Women's Heritage Month events at WKU, please visit https://wku.edu/isec/womenshistorymonth/index.php
For more information about earning a master’s degree in Student Affairs at WKU, visit https://www.wku.edu/csa/sa/index.php
For more information about earning a bachelor’s degree in Social Work at WKU, visit https://www.wku.edu/socialwork/bsw/