About 100 female students and women from the Pueblo community spent the morning of Feb. 19, listening to a speech by a woman known as a leader in Congress at Colorado State University-Pueblo’s Women’s Leadership Institute.
Sarah Weddington, who has received much recognition for her work, including the 2006 International Athena Award, was the keynote speaker at the institute.
In addition to a speech by Weddington, the institute consisted of round table discussions led by women leaders from the Pueblo community.
Some of the women on the panel were Caroline Parra, an executive director for the Southern Colorado Small Business Development Center; Janet Fieldman, chief foundation officer at Pueblo Community Health Center Foundation; Judy Weaver, director of staff education at the Colorado State Mental Health Institute at Pueblo and several others.
These community leaders were assisted by women from the university including Cora Zaletel, executive director of external affairs at CSU-Pueblo and Donna Souder, assistant professor of English and director of writing program, as well as other women leaders.
Topics of discussion ranged from parenting to conflict management to becoming a multifaceted woman. Each round table discussion was structured to discuss areas that students may have had questions about or issues with.
The discussions were also based off Weddington’s speech; using pieces of advice as discussion starters.
During her speech, Weddington gave five questions of topic which the groups could use to generate discussion and she also said students could use these questions to help themselves become better leaders. The questions were:
• “Ordinary people sometimes do extraordinary things.” Why and How?
• What can I do today to give myself more options tomorrow?
• What would I want to be a leader about? What kinds of things need to change?
• How can I practice leadership?
• What are the skills needed to be a leader?
Since students were confined to choosing two tables to participate in from the eight total tables, Weddington had each community leader explain what their table discussion would consist of before she began her speech, and she said this way every attendee could learn a little from each topic.
Weddington also gave her own tips to becoming a great leader during her speech, since she had become a role model for women leaders through past experience, she said.
She told of these experiences during her speech; the one she is known for best is having successfully argued the landmark Roe v. Wade case before the U.S. Supreme Court in 1973, becoming the youngest person to ever win a Supreme Court case at age 25.
Other accomplishments by Weddington were becoming the first woman from Austin, Texas, ever elected to the Texas House of Representatives. She also said she served as an assistant to former President Jimmy Carter.
This was the second time Weddington shared her experiences as a guest speaker.She spoke the previous night, Thursday Feb. 18, as a speaker for the Distinguished Speaker Series, hosted by the Office of Student Activities.
At the end of the Women’s Leadership Institute, Weddington announced that she had brought copies of her book, “A Question of Choice,” for everyone who attended the institute.
The institute was concluded with a book signing and photographs with Weddington, upon request.