UVU Utah women event emphasizes women’s leadership, education

Josh Ellis
Utah Valley University First Lady Paige Holland speaks during Utah women & leaders event on March 7. (Josh Ellis)

Utah Valley University hosted an event March 7 run by the Utah Women and Leadership Project titled “Strengthen Your Impact on the Community: Conversations that Matter.”

The event was meant to emphasize the impact that girls and women can have on their communities and encourage female education and leadership. Utah Valley University’s president and first lady Matthew and Paige Holland were keynote speakers.

“The bottom line is this: it has never been more important for women of this world to fill their lives with learning,” Paige Holland said.

Josh Ellis
The Utah women & leaders event crowd listens during the keynote address. The event was moved to the Centre Stage room to accommodate the crowd. (Josh Ellis)

Attendees chose one of five workshops to take part in. Each covered difficult community issues and focused on what Utah women could do to make a difference. Leaders of the workshops shared statistics and figures to give light to problems Utah faces and offered ways in which women could make changes and impact their community.

Most suggestions involved volunteer work. Jen Nibley, one of the women who ran the Poverty and Homelessness workshop, offered a significant suggestion.

“States that have more women in elected positions and legislatures have more money to solve family economic problems,” she said. “They ask different questions.”

Josh Ellis
Utah Valley University President Matthew Holland speaks at the keynote address of the Utah women & leaders event on Mar. 7. (Josh Ellis)

Matthew Holland said the Utah Women and Leadership Project was extremely personal for him. Early in his presidency at Utah Valley University, he learned of the low participation and graduation rates of women at UVU and determined to make a change.

“I knew instantly that was something we would have to work on,” Matthew Holland said.

Representatives of the Utah Women and Leadership Project stated that its mission is “to strengthen the impact of Utah girls and women through informing, engaging, and developing their voices, confidence, influence, and leadership.”

This aim is one that could be observed in the crowd attending the event; although both genders were present at the conference, the audience was predominantly female, with women and girls of all ages attending.

Josh Ellis
Jen Nibley, communications specialist at Community Action Services and Food Bank, speaks on poverty in Utah County on Mar. 7. (Josh Ellis)

One big event message presented was on working together to face problems.

“Alone you can feel it’s overwhelming,” said Nibley. “But when we all come together and do a little, it’s amazing what happens and what you will see.”

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