The Office of Multicultural Student Services hosted a women of achievement panel to learn more about leadership experience and to share their knowledge to a room filled with around 30 Ferris students, 90% of whom were women.
Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. member and Ferris State alumna Sandra Caddy was one of the panelists along with Kaylee Burke, who is the former director of the Center for Latin@ studies. Caddy is the current CEO of the Women’s Resource Center in Grand Rapids, while Burke is the current Director of Program & Strategy at the West Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
Some advice that Burke and Caddy gave to the women sitting in front of them was to stand together and to not be afraid of reaching out and speaking out.
To Caddy, women need a sisterhood to create collaborative energy. However, that is something she believes can’t be done alone. When Caddy was working at Inforum Michigan, she was the only woman. She changed that so other women would have the same opportunity that she did.
“I had to threaten to leave Inforum if we didn’t actively practice and put measurements in place to bring [in] other women,” Caddy said. “I was the only one [then], and now, six years later, we’re the majority.”
According to Burke, when you’re told no, figure out why and learn from it.
“You are going to hear no a lot, but keep saying yes and keep getting things to push forward,” Burke said. “I think back to my social worker skills [and say], ‘This perspective I hear you saying no to is talking about this, but can I tell you more about this perspective.’”
Pre-medicine biology junior Khi Hunt was one of the three men that attended the event. Although there were a small number of men in attendance, he was in tune with the panelists and took something with him.
“I love our women,” Hunt said. “I want to learn something new from them. I learned to hold nothing back and just speak, even when you’re scared.”
Another piece of advice the panel provided pertained to their leadership styles. There are many different ways people can show leadership. Some are extroverted leaders who speak out, while others are introverted leaders who get things done without being in the open.
“I think of myself as a quiet leader,” Burke said. “I can be boisterous when I need to be boisterous, but I really like to understand what the strengths of others are around me and how do I uplift them throughout that process. I don’t always need to be the person front and center.”
While Burke is more of a quiet leader, Caddy is people-centered and someone who believes in good customer service. She believes in giving people your best. Although she was told this at a young age, she didn’t fully understand it until later in her life.
“Giving up your best simply means you don’t give people your second hand,” Caddy said.
Junior health care administration and Sigma Lambda Gamma member Nina Barber expressed that the panel event was memorable for her.
Being a woman to Caddy means being your authentic self and never changing who you are. To Burke, womanhood is the strength in the literal and physical functions of women’s bodies that do not exist in men and celebrating the women that created paths for others.
If you would like to know more about the Women’s History Month events hosted by the OMSS, visit their Instagram @fsuomss or stop by their office in FLITE 159.