PRSSA's Empowering Women Campaign

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NMU's Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) will host a Rise U.P. Women's March 2020 post-reception Saturday, Jan. 18, at the Ore Dock Brewing Company. The event will feature all-female speakers and musicians, along with a pop-up art show by female artists. PRSSA is highlighting several empowering NMU students, faculty and staff in advance of the march and reception. This is the second of four installments recognizing their dedication.

Allison Opheim, Dec. 2019 Graduate (PR/Political Science), from Oshkosh, Wis. 

To support women on NMU's campus, the best first step is to show up. Attend events organized by women; make time for lectures given by women (including women of different ethnicities and sexual identities than yourself); speak up in class or group setting when you hear a woman being talked over, interrupted or disregarded; and be there for the women in your circle by listening to their thoughts, fears and passions. 

I've felt empowered while here at NMU when staff members take time to listen to my goals, worries and thoughts. Whether it was taking time to review my application for an internship, supporting me and other students organizing TEDxNMU, or providing guidance when figuring out post-graduation plans, there are a handful of NMU faculty and staff who take time out of their busy schedules to support my goals and offer a listening ear. 

My personal path of empowerment isn't complete by any means, but over the past few years in an effort to reach empowerment, I've learned a few lessons. I've realized that it's important to acknowledge which friends love and support you, and ways to bring them closer. I've also been working on finding ways to surround myself with women I would like to be more like; women who chase their dreams with vigor, are unapologetic about who they are, and prioritize supporting other women. 

In my path to empowerment, I've also realized the importance of protecting my own emotions. I believe that women are expected to be at their best performance at all times, or be labeled as moody, dramatic, bossy or intimidating, so I've learned the importance of monitoring my own mental and emotional state and taking steps accordingly to support myself. This has been a huge challenge, especially as someone who used to be an extreme introvert to the point of exhaustion. Saying no to things, taking time for myself, and finding small things that make me happy (cat naps, cooking good food, yoga, exercising) have all been things I've been very intentional about that help protect my own mental space. 

These are both small steps, but they've allowed me to feel more empowerment as a woman, and in turn, empower the women around me. 

A.J. Bowman, PR major from Marysville, Mich.

How do you support women? I listen, and if need be try to change my own behavior/actions or work to change what's keeping people from feeling safe or empowered. 

What does it mean to be an ally to women? It means to use your privilege to support women, especially when others aren't. 

What role do you think men can play in feminism? Men can play roles of support in feminism. Definitely a quiet position because realizing that there are certain areas of feminism and women's rights that should be for women to decide is a big part of it.

How does being surrounded by powerful women impact your life? I'm inspired constantly by powerful women in my life. I don't think I'd be half the person I am without being influenced daily by the women I know.

These profiles were compiled by Molly Gaudreau and Brooke Baneck of PRSSA. 

Allison Opheim
Allison Opheim
A.J. Bowman (PRSSA photo)
A.J. Bowman (PRSSA photo)
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Categories: Around NMU