Affinity Group Celebrates International Women’s Day


Illustration done by Faith Okoli for Womens History Month

Marlene Hererra, Staff Writer

In anticipation of Women’s History Month, CSU Bakersfield’s affinity group, the Organization of Women Leaders prepared a variety of virtual sessions held on March 8 in honor of International Women’s Day.

Kristen Valdez, assistant to the vice president of student affairs and chair for the organization, stated that the arrangement behind each session constituted a call for talent, in which she, and the rest of the committee, had been able to learn each other’s talents, how to share that with each other, and even how to extend it to other students.

The guiding topic for the six sessions surrounded the idea of breaking the bias. Although they had varying activities with each session, they were held back to back, every 40 minutes, starting at 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Students were able to participate by registering for individual sessions by submitting a form that could be accessed through an embedded link on the flyer posted on their website. Registering for up to two sessions was allowed only if they were not in the same time slot.

The organization made an effort to make the sessions as accessible as possible by providing financial assistance for all necessary materials. CSUB members could sign up for sessions and submit a request for financial assistance with materials for scheduled events hosted by the organization. Although some sessions did not require materials, such as the meditation session, the session of food preservation and the art project asked participants to click on a link to a list of project materials needed on Amazon.

The organization’s intentions were to teach, share and connect with the Runner community. Among the sessions, spiritual care, physical care and business developing skills were offered to all staff, faculty and students. The sessions included activities like practicing meditation, yoga, completing formal paperwork for a business, and more. Among those who led the sessions include CSUB members: Christina Ramirez, Heide Guiterrez, Brandy Jackson Villareal, Amy Ressler, Gisel Larios, and Leah Bank.

Dr. Amy Ressler, assistant professor for theater education, led the sixth session with theater games as an activity. She explained she wanted her games to focus on the topic of building community and connection.

When asked what she gained from leading these sessions, she stated, “[they] are fun for me too. It’s important for me to have my little soapbox. We get to break down walls between each other. We need to get to know each other. We need to share and listen and learn how to communicate, so it’s kind of my mission.”

The Organization of Women Leaders provides a space for empowering and supporting women through their collaboration with one another and their welcoming of others.

Ressler mentioned, “When I joined was when I first came here four years ago, and I think [the organization] is a great group of intelligent, exciting, wonderfully selfless women.”

Gisel Larios, freshman student and Biology major, commented on how her role in leading the art project got her out of her comfort zone and encouraged her to become more confident. She heard about the opportunity to lead the session through NMSE Advisor Paul Salie, who she described as someone who has become a mentor through the Pathways program on our campus. Through his role as a mentor and part of the committee of the Organization of Women Leaders, Salie recognized Larios’ interest in studies surrounding women and has encouraged and guided her into a community of amazing women leaders for inspiration and experience.

Valdez encouraged others to join the group when she shared that it is as easy as sending her an email showing interest and attending a meeting to be as involved as one would like to be. Steering committee contact information and scheduled upcoming meetings can be found on their website.