As most students were settling into their new dorms and classes, the women behind the University’s newest student organization, Successful Women at Pace have been working towards launching their vision of empowering women at the University.
Sophomore Alanna McCatty, SWAP treasurer, recalls that the inspiration behind SWAP came from another organization. “New York Women in Communications, is one major thing that [spawned the idea],” said McCatty. “There were all of these different sub committees and Alex [Osten, SWAP President] thought it would be a good idea to start up an organization like New York Women in Communications for Pace.”
Both McCatty and SWAP’s Executive President, senior Alex Osten, won scholarships from New York Women in Communications Inc. McCatty cites that Osten wanted to create something that would last here at the University and Osten saw that more women’s empowerment was needed at the University. “I founded the organization after years and years of feedback and seeing that lack of [women’s empowerment],” said Osten. “I asked my friends if I started it would they join that kind of network and they said yes.”
Osten and McCatty both note the fact that SWAP is a whole network for women’s empowerment and not a single entity.
“Students can get involved in a little bit of everything,” said McCatty. “We have those other sub-committees so that they can feel comfortable where they need to be.”
“We are trying to encompass all fields for women and at the same time if one field is not your designated field, learning about something different can help in the long run,” said Osten.
This network consists of several committees including: Events and Promotion, Mentorship Programs, Internship Programs, Public Relations, Alumni Relations, University Relations and Scholarship committees as well as a Merchandising committee and a Book Club.
For McCatty, SWAP’s ultimate goal is “to empower the students.” “We want to give them that leverage to say that they can go out in the world and do anything,” said McCatty. “The ultimate goal is to really push students forward and for the board members to be able to give their experiences to other Pace students and to supply them with that information on networking and scholarships and basically making them aware of what opportunities are out there.”
Osten’s ultimate goal for SWAP is for the club to have a positive effect on those who are a part of it. “I really hope that the network will continue to stay and that people will embrace it and that it will have a positive effect on people here and after graduation and that we embody that we are women and all of the glorious things about us,” said Osten.
Osten feels that this network will help promote unity between successful women.
“SWAP brings more of that sense of building each other up and that sense of community,” said Osten. “Many women in life tear each other down and are very competitive with each other when at the end of the day, if you are at a job and you’re planning an event you want to be able to pick up the phone and have someone answer the other line versus ignoring your call; so it’s about helping each other.”
“I was really fueled off of NYWICI,” said Osten. “It truly inspired me to see that women’s empowerment and how a group of women getting together can really influence an individuals life, so NYWICI really did influence my decision to start SWAP.”
“The SWAP network is here to advance and support University students, especially women,” said Osten. “We developed a speaker series of women who have impacted specific fields, a mentorship program for both students to mentor other students and alumni and industry leaders to mentor students as well.”
This organization differs from many others, because it does not go through the same parameters as most at the University do. “We are not going through Career Services; as women, we’ve built a rolodex and we all have our contacts, why not share them, and we are also not affiliated with SDACA,” said Osten. “That means we will be able to do certain things that other organizations cannot, such as bringing in all of the guest speakers and we are also trying to start up a scholarship for rising Seniors in the program as well.”
SWAP will also interact and involve the existing Women’s Empowerment Network here at the University. “The Women’s Empowerment Network here at the University will be filtering into SWAP,” said Osten. “They are exclusive to freshmen who went through a rigorous application process so all of those women will be involved in SWAP moving forward.”
Osten also emphasizes that the organization is open to all students, regardless of gender or class. “SWAP is open to undergraduate and graduate students, faculty and staff,” said Osten. “They have experiences outside of the classroom that students are about to have as well.”
Osten also notes that SWAP would not be what it is without some key helpers.“I have to thank Dean Braun, Sue Maxam, Omnia Khamis, Lexi Miniov, NYWICI, OSS, Jim Curry, Mary Jo O’Grady, Shannon Haick and The Pace Press as well as all women pioneers,” said Osten. “We all have our struggles, why not overcome them together.”
This article originally appeared in the September 17, 2014 edition of The Pace Press.