Women Rising program promotes empowerment

By Shelley Handley

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The Women Rising program, Maricopa Community College’s minority female initiative, is in its second year.  Glendale Community College’s chapter attended the second district-wide formal conference at Chandler-Gilbert Community College March 25.

Nine community college chapters attended the conference, resulting in over 230 attendees.

The main speaker Mary Rabágo, a popular bilingual journalist turned entrepreneur, spoke about her life as small town girl who grew into a well-respected professional female public figure.

Mary Rabágo speaks at the Women Rising Conference March 25 at Chandler-Gilbert Community College.
Photo by Shelley Handley: Mary Rabágo speaks at the Women Rising Conference March 25 at Chandler-Gilbert Community College.

Over a 20 year time she went from waitressing in a Mexican restaurant, to news anchor/reporter/writer with Univision stations and correspondent for national television programs like “Noticiero Univision” and “Prime Impacto,” to president and CEO of own her full multimedia production company.

Due to her parent’s influence and work ethic, she knew she could follow her dreams as long as she stayed determined with action and was willing to learn new skills, she said.

“My dad was a field worker and my mom was a stay-at-home mother,” said Rabágo.

Rabágo juggled jobs networking into better positions, and as her career began to unfold, she realized she had a passion to be a bridge for the Latino Community.

Her motto is: “Journalism with a Purpose.”

Born in Sonora, Mexico, she has a love for her heritage, she said.

She spoke about understanding the needs of nonnative born Americans who are trying to transition into a different culture without denying the one they had first.

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She also told the difficulties she has experienced obtaining a more affluent lifestyle, and the challenges of blending different roles as a female.

Due to work, Rabágo has had to move several times, and she has not always been the mother or wife she would like to be due to her professional commitments.

“It is a challenge for women to be both domestic and professional,” Rabágo said.

Her final remarks were about persevering, confidence, and thriving.

“Believe in yourself, reach and dream high, do what you love, and don’t let self-imposed obstacles get in the way. Run with opportunities when they come,” Rabágo said.

Regina Hermosillo, a second-year psychology student, said she found Rabágo inspiring and admired her courage to embrace her heritage. “Despite obstacles she has succeeded.  She was given opportunities, and she was not afraid to take them.”

“She likes who she is, and she is unafraid to speak in her own native language. It has made her very successful,” said Jesus Saldana Jr., Male Empowerment Network chapter member.

“I like how Mary shared not only her success in life but her struggles. Despite the difficulties she faced, she was still driven and determined to pursue her dreams and used every opportunities as she can to reach that. It was absolutely empowering and motivating that everything is possible in life,” said Ariel Garcia, an architectural major and Women Rising member.

Midway through the conference attendees chose from 13 workshops: Communication Strategies in the Workplace; Critical Professional Communications; Financial Literacy; It’s Your Money, Time to Make a Plan; Empowering Your Spirit Through Mindfulness; Life Balance and Time Management; Practicing Gratitude and Self-Compassion for Optimal Emotional Health; A Toolkit for Today’s Leader; Leading Like a Lady: How to Shatter You Inner Glass Ceiling; We Matter: Student Success Strategies for Women in the Classroom and Beyond; Connect 2 Success; Women Rising in STEM Careers; and Your Digital Footprint.

Ashley Sneddon, a second year pre-med student, chose Ezra Mahmood’s presentation.  Mahmood works at the Maricopa District Office as a coordinator in Human Resources.

“I valued her advice to stop and hear form the heart.  When speaking to people convey who you are as a person, and genuinely listen to who they are in the conversation.  Whether you are giving a presentation, informally speaking to them in conversation or having professional interaction it is important to respect others,” Sneddon said.

Sneddon and Hermosillo were inducted as an official Women Rising club member.  A formal ceremony occurred where they were given a blue satin scarf, a commemorating pin, and official certificate and a red rose.

Photo by Shelley Handley: Regina Hermosillo and Ashley Sneddon with a rose from their official induction into the Women Rising program March 25. As they were honored, they were given a certificate, satin scarf and commemorative pin.
Photo by Shelley Handley: Regina Hermosillo and Ashley Sneddon with a rose from their official induction into the Women Rising program March 25. As they were honored, they were given a certificate, satin scarf and commemorative pin.

Georgina Ruis, GCC EXCEL Program Coordinator, is a mentor to Sneddon.

“Georgina holds us to a higher standard.  She tells us to set a positive example for the other ladies on our campus, and to invite them to get involved.  She really encourages us,” Sneddon said.

Spring Turner, Women Rising program advisor, said she believes in mentoring for women.

“I advocate for women to become empowered,” Turner said. “I understand that they can move forward, and I want them to know they can do that without permission from those around them. They can be confident and self-determining in what they want out of life.”

Turner who currently is adjunct faculty at GCC has worked in educational settings from Michigan to Arizona.

“I find being the program advisor to these women very rewarding.  GCC’s chapter was a founding part of the program, and as I have watched this organization grow over the past few years, I am excited to see it expanding into a viable program that fosters and supports student success,” she said.

Turner appreciates the quality of keynote speakers and expert presenters at the conferences.

“Not everyone who comes to college has the supports they need, but the established, professional and accomplished women who come and interact with students at Women Rising Conferences share that people can come from nothing and still capture the American Dream,” Turner said.

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