Program facilitator Christine Hernandez, program organizer Lucy Hendrix, speaker Diane Harkey, Saddleback President Tod A. Burnett and ASG president William Vassetizedah celebrated a successful workshop. (Matthew Kirkland/ Lariat)
“Elect Her,” a workshop designed to promote women in politics and help students run for government positions, was hosted by the Saddleback Associated Student Government and by the American Association of University Women of San Clemente on April 8 in room 212 of the Student Services Center.
The workshop was created to inspire young women to pursue positions within their student governments and ultimately run for other leadership positions. Prominent women in the community spoke on the issues women face in politics and presentations provided students with information about diversity in government.
“It is a unique perspective,” said the program facilitator Christine Hernandez. “It is a lot of national data which a lot of time we don’t think about the context of why people should run for student government, especially women.”
Speakers added context to the information and talked about their experiences as women in politics. Diane Harkey, a member of the Board of Equalizers, was the first to speak, followed later by Saddleback College professor Kayla Graney.
“I have never really thought of [a career in politics] until now, hearing Diane Harkey speak,” Rei Kamio, 20, a business economics major said. “ I was like, wow that is something that is definitely possible for me.”
Elect Her lasted almost six hours and had about thirty Saddleback students in attendance. The event is sponsored by the AAUW and Running Start, which is a non-profit organization that brings knowledge to young women about politics.
“As a student at Saddleback and also being involved in ASG this is definitely helpful for me to know how the student government works and also how the higher positions in the government, like public government works as well,” Kamio said.
The workshop also had individual and group exercises that developed leadership skills. Students spoke publicly on a microphone, completed worksheets and expressed their feelings on government and politics.
“Something I would really love to continue on here at Saddleback and through the student government is encouraging people our age to vote, because it is such an important thing that so many people aren’t taking advantage of,” said Lucy Hendrix, program organizer.
The national program was applied for and won by Saddleback early in the fall semester and will continue to make stops at different colleges and universities around the country. The elected leader workshop is closely related to the salary negotiation workshop also put on by the AAUW, “Start Smart Work Smart.”
Hernandez provided words of advice for students, especially women, who were looking to get into student government or any other leadership positions.
“I always say go for it.” Hernandez said. “You do not get the positions you don’t apply for, you don’t run for, you don’t ask for. When you don’t apply for it you are always missing those opportunities. You gain so much from running, especially for student government and hopefully they want to run for public office.”