From March 14 to 17, the CMC Women’s Forum hosted its first Annual Leadership Retreat at Oceanside, San Diego. The participants included students from all years, and activities like outdoor events and discussion session were held daily.

Shree Pandya ’14 is among the people who started the Women’s Forum. “[After] coming back from studying off campus, it hit me that there was only one year left, and there were countless remarkable women that I had yet to know,” said Pandya when asked about her initial goal in starting the Women’s Forum.

The Women’s Forum is not the first attempt to bond CMC women together. Julia Starr ’12 and Crystal Adams ’12 were “integral towards putting together a precursor to what they called the Senior Women’s Forum,” Pandya mentioned. Events were held on campus for senior women, and the baton was later taken over by Pandya and Melissa Becker ’14. “We developed a base of support and knew that there was interests [from a wider range of participants].” When asked about the goal for the Women’s Forum, Pandya quoted a crucial piece of advice from Starr and Adams: “Focus on events that allow for introspection and fostering connections.”

The Women’s Forum has endeavored to approach this mission in its past events and the Leadership Retreat is one of its attempts. As someone who personally participated in the Retreat, I found it to be on the opposite side of a “stereotypical” intensive retreat; instead of bonding through crawling in the mud or running a 12-km hike, the Women’s Forum Retreat provided a more relaxed setting. It allowed the participants, or at least me, to temporarily forget the college pressure to excel and communicate freely with students from all years, therefore opening the door to a candid discussion. “I love the chance to talk to so many seniors and learn from their experience.” said Chong Shen ’16. However, Shen also mentioned how the Retreat can be better organized: “After general discussions and brainstorming together, we should have broken into groups to get more effective discussions, as people will be able to choose to focus on the topics that they are interested in.”

Apart from the Retreat, the Women’s Forum has constantly held discussion events on campus. Hannah Bower ’16, a team manager who is in charge of the Wine and Cheese Movie night on April 1, said that she wanted to promote the conversation on campus about equal opportunity across gender. “We are holding fun, decompressing event for women while trying to foster the conversation on campus. Men are also welcomed to join the discussion, as they are an integral part of the society.”

The graduating class is also making an effort to launch CMC’s first Women’s Network. Pandya, who’s heading to work in the banking industry, mentioned how she was approached by her firm asking “how can we recruit more women from CMC.” While many underclass women are looking for connections with past graduates, what is less realized is how graduates are eager to offer help. The Network would then be a supportive, resourceful and platform that aims to include every female member of CMC.