Celebrating the Spirit of St. Louise at DWN’s 12th Annual High Tea

 By Nadia Alfadel Coloma

On March 28, DePaul women faculty and staff gathered for fellowship, networking and service at DWN’s 12th annual High Tea with St. Louise. This yearly celebration marks two occasions: Women’s History Month and St. Louise’s feast day, both of which occur in March.

So who was St. Louise anyway? Why does DWN hold this event each year to commemorate her?

One terrific metaphor I heard once from someone explaining the significance of St. Louise, in her relation to St. Vincent, is that if St. Vincent were the president of our university, then St. Louise would be the provost.

St Louise de MarillacFrom 17th century France, St. Louise was St. Vincent’s most trusted and key collaborator. She dedicated her life to the service of others, serving the poor alongside St. Vincent and educating women to help those most in need. St. Louise was also a wife (then widow), a mother (to a son with special needs), a nurse, social worker, teacher and community organizer. She founded the Daughter’s of Charity, a community of religious women that still exists today.

St. Louise’s spirit of service and action inspires us to take our beliefs,  ideas, passions, dreams, our vision for a better world—and put them into action. And it is because of her inspiring legacy that DWN honors her each year, not with one event, but with two: the other being our annual Women of Spirit and Action Awards.

17458234_10212052718136305_3478190085345872810_nBut this year’s High Tea with St. Louise was different. In addition to providing a space and opportunity to enjoy afternoon tea and treats with fellow DPU women, our 2017 High Tea included a service activity.

All this talk about St. Louise inspiring us to action, well, what better way to honor her than to put our inspiration to action and do service in her name?

The event kicked off with keynote speaker Barbara Sims, a DePaul SNL graduate student who talked about her experiences facing poverty, her struggles as a first-generation college student and single mother, and her climb to a six-figure corporate job that, while it filled her pockets, didn’t satisfy her soul.

“Knowledge is power,” she shared, reading a quote from Kofi Annan that inspired her. “Information is liberating. Education is the premise of progress in every society and every family.”

Barbara ended up leaving her six-figure job to pursue her passion for singing. In fact, she sang a song just before beginning her address, mesmerizing everyone with the delightful surprise of her voice that echoed through the lofty ceilings of Cortelyou Commons. (Not every keynote speaker spontaneously breaks into song…) You can watch the 40-second clip of her singing here.

Barbara spent a few years traveling around the country singing, but she still felt a restlessness in her soul. She had a calling toward education, and so decided to go back to school, enrolling at DePaul to pursue a PhD that focuses on culturally relevant education in the neo liberal era.

“I wanted to be in some service,” she said. “Our African American students are either underemployed or unemployed. They’re not walking away from school prepared or inspired.”

sarahscircleAfter Barbara’s keynote, the local nonprofit that we would be serving that day was introduced. Sarah’s Circle, located in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood, serves women who are homeless or in need of a safe space. Last year the organization served roughly 793 women in the community.

But there was one more special guest before the service portion of the event: the Depaul (yes, lowercase p) USA’s Dax Program, which helps our students facing homelessness by matching them with host families and giving them resources and support so they can complete their education at DePaul.

20170328_161128“There are at least 50 students at DePaul who are homeless, or housing insecure, as we prefer to say, during any given quarter,” shared Sister Judy Warmbold, the Dax program coordinator. “The problem is… we don’t know who these students are. The best thing you can do to help is know that this program exists, help spread the word and help identify students who you suspect might need this program.”

“There are at least 50 students at DePaul who are homeless during any given quarter. The problem is… we don’t know who they are.” – Sister Judy Warmbold, Dax program coordinator

I had heard about the Dax Program a couple of years ago, but admittedly, it had slipped from my mind since then—which made me feel awful, considering that one of the main points Sister Judy stressed to everyone was to simply be aware. Be aware of the program and be aware of the students you work with or teach on campus, as students facing homelessness are often too ashamed to come forward. You can read more about Dax in Newsline.

After a brief Q&A between the attendees and guest speakers, the energized frenzy of the service activity finally began.

At each round table, DPU women assembled sandwiches and packed them into bagged lunches for the women who benefit from Sarah’s Circle. Each table had loaves of bread, slices of deli meat and cheese, clementines and bags of chips. Also dispersed around the tables were index cards on which we could write a personal message to the woman who would receive the bagged lunch.

It was wonderful to be in the company of so many DePaul women who gave the gift of their presence that day to help women that they would never meet. Hands were reaching across tables, people were calling out “Is there more cheese?” and “Does anyone have an extra bag?” The connection and solidarity I felt with those around me was such a rejuvenating way to end my work day.

By the end, the 50 women who participated made 100 sandwiches for 100 bagged lunches. The representatives from Sarah’s Circle expressed their gratitude and amazement at how fast and efficiently we put the lunches together. Many looked up from the tables as if thinking, “Aren’t there anymore sandwiches to make?”

The spirit of St. Louise truly shone through the windows of Cortelyou Commons that afternoon.

I’m so glad that the DePaul Women’s Network offers these opportunities to come together, learn and give back to the larger community. It makes me proud to be a part of the Network. I hope we made St. Louise proud with this event that bears her name. I have a feeling we did.

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Visit our Facebook page to view more photos from the event!

Nadia Alfadel Coloma is the director of marketing and communications for the DePaul Women’s Network, and a communications and workforce specialist in Enrollment Management and Marketing at DePaul University.

An Afternoon Treat: High Tea with St. Louise

By Laura Durnell

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Part social catch-up and networking opportunity, part recognition of service, part membership recruitment, and part relaxation, the 2016 High Tea with St. Louise managed to achieve a multitude of goals much like Saint Louise de Marillac did during her remarkable life.

The afternoon began at Cortelyou Commons with what could be argued was the most important part of this DWN event:  coffee, tea, water, and tasty delectables.  With daylight savings time having occurred the Sunday before, there was still enough light outside to stream through the windows during the mid-to-late afternoon high tea event and provide an added energy jolt along with the provided caffeine and chocolate.

A few minutes after my arrival, I ran into one of my friends from the English department who works as one of the directors of its graduate program.  We met at one of the rear tables to catch up where we introduced ourselves to two other women in attendance, one of which was the Invocation speaker Lubna El-Gendi, the associate director of the College of Law.

Once seated, I looked at my slip of paper the greeters provided everyone upon entering.  The paper instructed us to locate the tea’s “mystery guest” while we interacted with friends and made new ones.

A few minutes after my friend’s arrival, another one of my friends who works with me in the WRD department arrived.  Both my friends are not involved with DWN as members or members at large, but both mentioned they were thinking about possibly applying for next year.

The event opened with Shenay Bridges, DWN’s 2015-2016 Director of Membership & Engagement and DePaul’s Assistant Dean of Community Resources, welcoming everyone to this year’s high tea.  She then learned who discovered the “mystery guest.”  A woman at the table to my immediate right discovered the mystery guest.  It was Jennifer Mata, a tenure-track member of the faculty in the College of Education, who was also sitting at the same table.

The next speaker was El-Gendi.  Being a Muslim woman, she explained the standard greeting Muslims use to greet one another before she led the diverse community with an Invocation that appealed to women of all spiritual backgrounds.

Bridges then introduced keynote speaker Jennah Dunham, Coordinator for Scholarships and Vincentian Mission Logistics in the Office of Mission and Values.  In her keynote, Dunham talked about her love of Saint Louise, DePaul University, and the university’s Vincentian mission.

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Perhaps the most stirring and profound part of her keynote speech was when she discussed how Saint Louise inspires and motivates her professionally as well as personally.  She revealed she is leaving DePaul at the end of the year so her partner can partake in a new opportunity in another state.  While sharing how Vincentian values and spirituality have guided her work with students and DePaul, she revealed she also applies Saint Louise’s lessons, spirituality, and words to her own life and was finding them poignant as she embarks on this next chapter of her life.  Twice during her keynote address, she paused to give the attendees time to discuss their own lives in how they deal with challenging and new situations as well as reflecting on Saint Louise herself.

One of my friends who attended is Jewish.  Without hesitation, she said she did not know anything about Saint Louise.  However, my other friend attended Catholic school as a child gave us all a lesson on Saint Louise from what she learned as a child and when she travelled to France with DePaul to learn more about Saint Vincent de Paul and his mission and life.  As a Catholic myself, I did not know about Saint Louise until I was accepted as a member two years ago, and my friend gave everyone at our table a lesson. Though Saint Louise was illegitimate and lived  hundreds of years ago, Saint Vincent de Paul treated her as an equal more than a subservient female and an “other.”

The tea ended with some current members talking about their experience serving DWN before Jennifer Roop, DWN’s 2015-2016 Executive Vice President and incoming 2016-2017 President, talked about DWN’s membership recruitment process. The tea ended with DWN’s new membership video put together by the Membership & Engagement team.

As we left, my friends and I remarked we couldn’t believe how fast the time went.  One of them said she was even more intrigued into learning more about DWN and applying.

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DWN is currently accepting applications for 2016-2017 membership. The deadline to apply is April 1, 2016.

Laura Durnell is a member of DWN’s Marketing and Communication team and a part-time faculty member in the Department of Writing, Rhetoric, and Discourse at DePaul University. Along with first year writing, she also teaches a focal point on Anne Sexton and will teach another one in the spring entitled “Women’s Confessions.” She tutors at Wilbur Wright College in addition to her teaching at DePaul and has recently published an essay in Trivia: Voices of Feminism entitled “The Social, Cultural, and Political Necessity of Anne Sexton.”

 

Why I (an Exercise-Phobe) Walk in the Heart Walk

By Lubna El-Gendi

Running any kind of a race, let alone a marathon, is not on my bucket list. And as someone who is allergic to exercise (doctor’s note pending), that aversion to races extends to “walks.”

Before last summer, the last time I participated in a walk was when I did the March of Dimes as a high school senior. And yet, last summer, I signed up for the DWN Heart Walk team. I can say I signed up for many reasons: I was new to DePaul and wanted to meet people, I was avoiding doing work, I had a spurt of energy at the exact moment I saw the Heart Walk email. But the truth is that what motivated me to actually sign up, and not just “think about it,” was that the walk was benefiting the American Heart Association.

263874_10150237083562636_4290690_nEven though heart disease is the number 1 killer of women in the U.S., I never thought about heart health (or any other kind of health if I’m being completely honest), until my father passed away from a heart attack in 2010. My father was one of those people that are often referred to as “gentle giants.” At 6’3, with a full beard and deep voice, he could appear intimidating (all the guys in high school knew not to mess with me), but was one of the kindest, most positive people I’ve ever known, with a deep, unshakable faith in people.

Per Arab naming traditions, my middle name is my father’s first name and, since his passing, I have been striving to honor his name and memory. That led me to last year’s Heart Walk, where I met the wonderful women of DWN and decided to join the DWN Service & Outreach Committee. I have my dad to thank for my height and laid-back nature, and now I have him to thank for my involvement with DWN. That’s why I continue to walk in the Heart Walk, in thanks to and in honor of my father, Saad A. El-Gendi.

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And hey, who can’t use a break from the office?

Lubna El-Gendi is a member of the Service & Outreach Team for the DePaul Women’s Network, and Director of Student Affairs & Diversity at DePaul’s College of Law.

DWN Faculty Panel Reveals Lessons for All Working Women

On April 25, the DePaul Women’s Network hosted “Faculty Service Opportunities and Career Development Panel.” DWN Communications Team Member Laura Durnell recaps and reflects upon what participating in the event taught her.

Laura Durnell

Right before the DePaul Women’s Network’s final event of the 2013-2014 year, The Atlantic published an article called “The Confidence Gap.” In the article, authors Katty Kay and Claire Shipman presented evidence that showed women in the workforce shortchanging themselves through not pursuing opportunities or broadcasting accomplishments simply because of a lack of self-assurance.

DWN’s event reflected the issues mentioned in the article. “Twenty percent of full professors are women,” said panelist and English Professor Anne Clark Bartlett, who also serves as Special Assistant to the Provost for Innovation and Academic Planning. This revelation regarding women in academia also relates to the number of women in the workforce outside the Ivory Tower who do not often pursue or hold positions of leadership.

Even though this panel was specifically marketed to full-time faculty on the tenure track and focused on the role service plays in tenure decisions, much of the advice presented also applies to adjunct faculty, DePaul staff and all women in the workforce. Overall, the panelists provided advice and suggestions about taking initiative, strategically planning activities, and being thoughtful with time commitments regarding work advancement—all activities that would not only help build careers in and outside academia, but also build confidence.

During the panel, the accomplished and inspiring panelists used those effective strategies to discuss the role service plays in tenure decisions. The panelists also shared their stories and advice about the best way to plan and participate in service. Roxanne Owens from the College of Education, who now serves as Chair for the Department of Teacher Education, said she has served on some committees she didn’t want to, but serving allowed her to get her name out to her department and DePaul.

“But don’t be a martyr [with volunteering],” Owens warned. “Yet if you agree to serve on a committee, show up!”

Mona Shattell from the College of Nursing, who is now Associate Dean for Research and Faculty Development, said service has given her opportunities to serve on committees outside of her nursing field and to better get to know DePaul and its students. For example, she served as the faculty advisor to the DePaul Women’s A Cappella Chorus.
When she started on the tenure track, Shattell said she looked at her career goals and didn’t join a service opportunity unless it matched her goals, emphasizing, “It helped me write my narrative and align my service.”

Like Shattell, Bartlett made her service align with her goals. Until she received tenure, Bartlett devoted most of her service within her research concentration of medieval literature, specifically medieval women’s literature. During her early years on the tenure track, Bartlett organized conference panels in her field, participated in professional organizations, and spent the rest of her energy and time on research and teaching. Once she became an associate professor, Bartlett began serving on university committees, including a stint as the Faculty Council President. However, Bartlett believes a lot of service early in a professor’s career can be “a disaster. Service opportunities are always going to be there.”

Slightly disagreeing with Bartlett, Judy Bundra from the College of Music, who is also Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, encouraged professors on the tenure track to grab the service opportunities that are available and to pick ones that have a wide impact. “To not do any committees university-wide is not wise,” said Bundra. Since her adjunct days, Bundra has risen to the rank of associate professor and served as a Faculty Council representative and department dean.

Maggie Oppenheimer from the Economics Department in the College of Business echoed other panelists in stressing the importance of making contacts within one’s own field as well as at DePaul. “Get on conference programs or organizations,” Oppenheimer said. Through her service inside and outside DePaul, Bundra said she “got her name out” as well as DePaul’s.

Regarding collegiality and reputation, all of the panelists advised not just signing up for service but truly fulfilling the responsibility of serving. “It’s not in the handbook, but being a good colleague and doing your share is important,” Oppenheimer said. Current Faculty Council Chair and College of Communication Professor Michaela Winchatz agreed, mentioning the frustration regarding the noticeable absence of others when the same people repeatedly volunteer and other faculty lay low.

As important as service is, Owens cautioned tenure-track faculty members from using service as a way to avoid research. In a post-panel email, Owens wrote, “I believe people need to contribute to the university, their college, their department and their professional community through service activities—but they also need to be aware of when they are overcommitting themselves to service as a way to avoid something they might struggle with a bit more (such as writing).”

Finally, one such piece of advice that any academic and professional can embrace came from Shattell via Twitter: “Keep your CV not only up-to-date but up to the minute!”

Read more about the Twitter conversation during the panel in our Storify recap.

Laura Durnell is a member of DWN’s Communications team and is an adjunct in the Writing, Rhetoric, and Discourse Department at DePaul University.

Volunteer with DWN for Vincentian Service Day

Jackie Posek
Jackie Posek, DWN’s Service & Outreach Team

By Jackie Posek

As I’m sure we all know by now, St. Louise de Marillac was a huge advocate and propagator of service to those living in poverty and on the margins of society. In her time, she worked for some of the least cared-for populations in Paris and rural France: widows, orphans, abandoned children. Even the women she reached to become Daughters of Charity were often poor country girls with few prospects for education or fulfillment. She was the embodiment of servant leadership, engaging with the poor not as lowly, faceless folks whom she could save, but rather as beautiful, dignified human beings who allowed her the privilege of serving them. For St. Louise, to engage with those living in poverty was a huge blessing, because it was in that service that she was able to encounter the face of God in the world.

Fast-forward 350+ years to the present day, and we who want to follow in the footsteps of St Louise have an amazing opportunity to embody her spirit of service and love for the poor by participating in Vincentian Service Day on Saturday, May 3. More than 1,200 DePaulians will gather and go out to various service sites all over Chicago to engage in a morning of service and relationship with the poor and marginalized. But VSD isn’t just about doing work in poor neighborhoods; it’s about being Vincentian in our community, reaching out to those whom we would ordinarily not encounter and receiving the gift of getting to know them. Vincentian service is first and foremost about personal relationships, coming together with those who surround us every day whom we ordinarily might not see, and seeing the face of God in them in a very special way. And we get this chance to do it together as proud, fierce, Vincentian women of the 21st century!

Signing up for VSD is super easy. Just send an email to me, Jackie Posek, by April 4, letting me know that you’re interested. I’ll take care of registering us as a team through the Vincentian Community Service Office and will let you know all the necessary details. The event starts at 9 a.m. on May 3, with an opening ceremony gathering all the volunteers together and sending us forth in service. We’ll do service in the morning at a particular site as a group, and then come back to DePaul in the early afternoon for a picnic gathering for all volunteers.

This is a great chance to do meaningful service with your friends and colleagues from DePaul. Please consider joining the DWN team for Vincentian Service Day. You will be really glad you did!

Jackie Posek is a member of DWN’s Service & Outreach team and is Assistant Director of Catholic Campus Ministry at DePaul University.

Share Your Soles

Are you excited to “Share Your Soles”? Get ready to kickoff your shoes at the next DWN service event on April 1st to help a great nonprofit that collects shoes for those in need. Check out the details below.

When Can I Donate?

DWN is kicking off this year-round service event on April 1st.

How and What Do I Donate?

Donate ANY type of shoe. Just drop it in the bin and “Share Your Soles” with us by snapping a picture to tweet us @DPWomensNetwork with the hashtag #shareyoursoles or post on our Facebook page.

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Where to Donate?

Lincoln Park Campus
Ray Meyer Fitness & Recreation Center
2235 N. Sheffield Ave., Chicago, IL 60614
The bin is directly to your left as you enter The Ray

Share Your Soles

Loop Campus*
DePaul Center 11th Floor
Directly in front of room 11004
Student Center Office

*Drop- off for Loop location available April-May 2014

Interested in reading about this awesome organization?

Find out more: http://shareyoursoles.org

 

A Simple Loving Act of Service

A version of this post, written by Jaclyn Hugg (DWN Communications Team Member), was originally published on A Whispered Wish.

Fill-in-the-blank, would you? The world needs more _______.

…think about it

Okay, got it?

What did you say?

Depending on when presented with this challenge, I’m almost certain I would complete it differently each time because, let’s face it, the world needs a lot. The world needs more DREAMERS. The world needs more DOERS. The world needs more PUPPIES (I just made you say “awh”, didn’t I?). But really…who doesn’t love a warm, fluffy, cuddly little canine? I digress.

If you ask, Hannah Brencher, Founder and Creative Director of “More Love Letters” (MLL), she would likely say (and I quote her website), “The world needs more LOVE  – “pure, old-fashioned, never goes out of style love. Ridiculous, oozing, cannot pack this thang into 140-characters kind of love. Fearless, bold, unstoppable love.”

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Image courtesy of Jaclyn Hugg

I first heard about MLL through a website I visit almost daily called Positively Positive. This movement, aimed at lifting the spirits of complete strangers through the art of letter writing, called to my affinity for what I call “real mail” – you know…like cards, postcards, and letters people send via The United States Postal Service. My interested was piqued!

While perusing the MLL site and viewing Brencher’s TED talk, I learned that her individual effort – to write 400 love letters over the course of one year, bloomed into something that now has national and international attention and involvement. And those interested in participating in MLL’s quest have several options:  they may 1) write and leave letters in random places for unsuspecting recipients to find, 2) write letters for Love Letter Bundles, and/or 3) nominate someone for a Love Letter Bundle.

With the nation’s (arguably) most romantic day quickly approaching, I’d invite you to join me in this simple act of service. If you do nothing else between now and February 14th, would you please write one love letter? It doesn’t have to be fancy – just a quick note of encouragement for someone you know, or perhaps a complete stranger that stumbles upon your words. In doing so, you might offer the recipient just what they need, just what their world needs.

Jaclyn Hugg is a member of DWN’s Communications team and is Assistant Director of Advising for the College of Computing and Digital Media at DePaul University.