Building a Better Future in Politics: Saint Mary’s is the First West Coast University to Join Women’s Leadership Network
The SMC campus will host a timely conference in June for undergraduate women on how to become involved in politics—and why it matters.
Saint Mary’s College of California is the first West Coast university to join the National Education for Women’s (NEW) Leadership National Network, which teaches undergraduate women how to become involved in politics and why it matters.
With 2024 being a presidential election year, the timing could not be better. The inaugural session for the NEW Leadership Institute at Saint Mary’s will take place in June and be hosted on our campus. Twenty students from throughout the San Francisco Bay Area will spend one week on the grounds of Saint Mary’s , learning about the pathways to political engagement and careers in the field. Participating students will meet with California elected officials and women in government at the municipal, county, and state levels.
“At Saint Mary’s, we instill a sense of serving for the common good—and that’s what politics does at its best as well. We want this Institute to create opportunities for our students and broaden their impact for years to come.”
“It’s really significant being selected to host the Institute this year,” says Saint Mary’s Executive Vice President and Provost Corey Cook, whose expertise in California politics is often tapped by Bay Area news outlets. “The selection of the host institution is a competitive process. At Saint Mary’s, we instill a sense of serving for the common good—and that’s what politics does at its best as well. We want this Institute to create opportunities for our students and broaden their impact for years to come.”
“A Feather in our Cap”
Saint Mary’s being the first West Coast institution to join NEW Leadership is “a feather in our cap,” says Professor Myrna Santiago, director of the Women’s and Gender Studies Program at the College. “Through the NEW Leadership Institute, Saint Mary's will be able to make new opportunities available for undergraduate women from throughout the region to learn about the many paths there are to get involved in politics, make a career in the field, and consider running for office in the future.”
Santiago also notes that the Institute is right in line with SMC’s mission, not only in educating students, but creating educational space for young women who are not generally recruited into politics.
“For that reason, we expect to have a strong contingent of young women of color attending the inaugural Institute next summer,” Santiago says.
The Institute is hands-on. Students attending will develop a project that they will test in the field, and they will attend workshops on a wide range of topics ranging from how state politics work to how to run a political campaign.
“The work we’re doing is, at its heart, collaborative,” says Professor María Luisa Ruiz, director of SMC’s Institute for Latino and Latin American Studies. Collaboration defines the experience for participants—and it has characterized the work Saint Mary’s has been doing to launch the program.
Participating students will come from Saint Mary’s as well as other Bay Area colleges and universities.
LEARN MORE: For more information about the program and to apply, visit the NEW Leadership Institute page for details.
About NEW Leadership
NEW Leadership (National Education for Women’s Leadership) teaches undergraduate women the many ways to become involved in politics and why it matters. Rising sophomores through seniors from community colleges and four-year universities are eligible to apply for the one-week residential institute to learn about the pathways to political engagement and careers in politics and government. The curriculum includes meetings with California elected officials and women in government at the municipal, county, and state levels, designing a project and testing it in the field, and participating in workshops on topics from political theory to running an election. The Women’s and Gender Studies Program and Saint Mary’s College of California will host the inaugural West Coast Institute in June 2024. Applications will open in January 2024.
For more information about how to participate in the program, please contact:
Myrna Santiago, Director, Women’s and Gender Studies Program
María Luisa Ruiz, Director, Institute for Latino and Latin American Studies
Zahra Ahmed, Assistant Professor of Politics