Celebrating intergenerational collegiate women

IT+FITS%E2%80%94In+this+archived+photo+from+1998+Miriam+Hilton+%28left%29+and+Jane+Huibel%2C+members+of+American+Association+of+University+Women%2C+gather+for+a+meeting.+%0D%0APhoto+courtesy+of+the+Central+Upper+Peninsula+and+NMU+Archives%0D%0A

IT FITS—In this archived photo from 1998 Miriam Hilton (left) and Jane Huibel, members of American Association of University Women, gather for a meeting. Photo courtesy of the Central Upper Peninsula and NMU Archives

Denali Drake

Ornate red curtains, white lace and gold statues adorned the Women’s Federated Clubhouse, but this event was not your grandmother’s tea party. 

The American Association of University Women (AAUW) hosted their second annual Mentoring Women as They Launch Their Careers Event on Nov 14 on West Ridge Street. The goal of the intergenerational event was to inspire conversation to promote a sense of community between the Marquette women. 

The AAUW Marquette Chapter has connections that reach across city limits, and events like this are centered around students so that they can break into the post-graduate world feeling like they are not alone, NMU graduate student and co-chair of the event Taylor Susa said.

“This event is a way for students to have an outlet to the community, particularly in networking with professional women,” Susa said. “We as college students keep to our own little box of campus so it’s definitely something I wish I had when I was here.”

They discussed their education and careers, the wins and failures that came along with both and acknowledging the differences in their generations. Ann Arnold, a current Marquette health professional, gave tips to students about the future of the workforce. 

“Get ready, you will have three to five careers in your lifetime,” Arnold said. “The old model that you will have the same career is gone.”

The crowd was mostly community members with a few students sprinkled in, this enabled the group to not only focus on the future of college students but their future as well, in terms of retirement. 

“In the 70s when you graduated high school you were expected to become a nurse, a secretary or a teacher,” AAUW community member Ruth Ziel said. “My advice to women now is you need not take yourself so seriously, embrace change.”

Some of the questions that were available for discussion were emotional, such as: what scares you? Answers ranged from access to rural healthcare to birth to the safety of schools for children. Less weighted questions such as: name one thing you learned today, sparked a positive response from sophomore psychology major Hannah Kaull. 

“I’ve learned how to be assertive, learning how to be okay with how I feel and expressing it,” Kaull said. 

Attendees were able to see how building friendships and connections between members who are 19 years old and some who are 80 years old could do in bridging the generational gap. 

“This is totally something that I just mold right into, being able to talk and connect with people is something that fills me up inside,” Kaull said. “Seeing this dynamic is super fascinating for me, you see people come from all walks of life, each person I talk to that is older has such a different story than the other.”

The question of what you are doing next intrigued NMU ‘76 alum, Susan Payant. Now retired, she spends her days as a beekeeper, with over 20 hives to call her own that produce over 108 gallons of honey a year. In her spare time, she helps homeless women by making sure their basic needs are met. 

“Life is so exciting, there are so many cool things to do,” Payant said. “Now I have the opportunity to look at the women’s movement and raise money to help them be successful.”