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Thousands of aspiring college student women leaders filled the University of Maryland’s campus in June 2014. Included were two of Merrimack’s own: senior Tia Roy (Psychology) and junior Lauren McCarthy (Education). Each year, the National Conference for College Women Student Leaders (NCCWSL), America’s premier conference for college women, offers a transformative leadership experience for the next generation of leaders. The conference hosts nearly 1,000 college women from across the country each year. A highlight of the conference is the Women of Distinction Ceremony. The 2014 speakers included Chelsea Clinton, Judy Smith, Hattie Kaufman, and Lily Lui. Smith is the founder and CEO of the crisis management firm Smith & Company. Her work was the inspiration for the television show Scandal. Kaufman has made her mark as the first Native American Journalist in television and Lui is the Co-Founder of PublicStuff, who was recently named one of Forbes “30 under 30”.

In addition to the Women of Distinction Ceremony, Tia and Lauren participated in an exclusive Graduate School and Career Fair; leadership and professional development workshops; and networking events with some truly amazing women from across the globe. This experience would not have been possible without support from the American Association of University Women (AAUW) North Shore Branch to attend the national conference. The AAUW is a non-profit organization that promotes equity for women and girls through advocacy, education, and research. Each year the AAUW North Shore Branch awards up to two scholarships to women interested in attending the conference.

Lauren and Tia will be the first to tell you that their experiences at NCCWSL changed their lives. After attending the conference, Lauren began a sustainable agriculture program in Lawrence with help from a woman she met at the conference and is in the process of establishing a Campus Kitchen project at Merrimack. Tia brought her NCCWSL experiences back to her internship at Northern Essex Community College, making the college a new AAUW university member. Attending the conference helped each young woman hone their professional identities, refine their leadership skills, and gain skills to create positive change in their communities.

If you are interested in learning more about NCCWSL please visit www.nccwsl.org. If you have specific questions about applying for the North Shore AAUW Branch scholarship please contact Tamara Gaydos at tamaragaydos@verizon.net. In addition, you may contact Tia Roy at roytm@merrimack.edu and Lauren McCarthy at mccarthyl@merrimack.edu to learn more about their experiences.

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