The community action summit

By Hannah Davis '25 and Autumn White '25 January 30, 2024

Hannah Davis and Autumn White

On October 13, we had the honor of participating in the 7th Annual Community Action Summit. The event focused on "community action, human rights, and the framework for change."

Being among talented students and professors created an ambitious atmosphere dedicated to shaping a better future. Attendees included students and faculty from Quinnipiac University, Holy Cross, Trinity, and Northwest CT Community College, along with speakers from Texas Christian University, Oxford University, and the University of Oregon. Our primary objectives were to foster a changed perspective on Human Rights and introduce various advocacy resources. As the Summit grows, we aim to empower Community Action Leaders to apply this knowledge in their diverse future endeavors and careers.

The event started years ago, following Quinnipiac's participation in Oxford Consortium for Human Rights workshops. It over time became an outlet for Connecticut communities and colleges to connect through community action, as they began to share and learn what they and others had done for their communities. This year, more than 50 people attended the event, and we hope the numbers will continue to grow. The event was sponsored by the M&T Bank Center for Women and Business, Oxford Consortium for Human Rights, the QU College of Arts & Sciences, the Albert Schweitzer Institute, and Northwest CT Community College.

During the Summit, students and professors had the chance to lead and speak passionately about community action. Professors Sujata Gadkar-Wilcox and Sean Duffy organized the event, allowing us to facilitate a discussion panel titled “Women Leading, and the Challenges Presented in Community-Engaged Work.” We promoted the event and conducted research to find articles relevant to the panel topics. Intersectionality, a vital but often overlooked topic, was central to our discussions, particularly concerning the reinforcement of Women's Leadership in the workforce. As aspiring impactful women in formidable careers, we centered the panel on existing challenges and stereotypes. Professors Julia Fullick-Jagiela and Antoinette DeNapoli joined as speakers, and attendees enriched the discussion with their personal experiences, research, and opinions, offering diverse responses to various questions. Topics ranged from differential standards in male-dominated fields and issues minority women face to the impact of higher education and career demands on women's self-esteem.

This exposure to inspiring human rights activists has fueled our passion to understand neglected legal issues needing advocacy. In a panel discussion on women's rights and intersectionality, a participant highlighted how minority women often face significant wage gaps and challenges in higher education roles. This sparked a broader conversation about experiences affecting women's lives and self-esteem. Another attendee shared his perspective, shaped by being raised by his grandmother, a law enforcement lieutenant, shedding light on issues like wage gaps, racial disparities, and abuse. His insights led to a discussion on global challenges faced by women. This event's power lies in its ability to bring people from diverse backgrounds to openly share personal stories and discuss ways to drive change in their respective roles, from students to future leaders.

The event offered a clearer definition of what classifies human rights, and how it branches out into different aspects such as rights to privacy concerning advanced technology, environmental issues affecting adequate health, immigration policies, gender stereotypes, and inequality. The end of the event was followed by a student-led meditation, providing an opportunity for reflection. Acknowledgment is the first step to change. Our hope is that everyone who left the discussion room, and the Community Action Summit, came out with a new perspective, and potentially will go forward and take the next step to implement change in their lives and careers.

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