Professional development program for female-identifying students to launch Spring 2023

A new personal and professional development program, created by Isabella Doyle, fosters connection and leadership for second-year students.

Isabella Doyle, a second-year communications student, in coordination with Sophomore Year Experience is launching a new personal and professional development program for second-year, female-identifying students.  

The project stemmed from Doyle’s involvement in Brain Fellows, a year-long fellowship that concentrates on social action.   

Participants are selected annually in the mid-spring semester. Then, starting in the following fall, they participate in workshops, discussions and activities to develop and execute their own projects.  

The goal of these projects is to further change in an issue of the Fellow’s choice, said Adrian Griffin, social innovation program manager at the BW Brain Center.   

“This year, I focused [Brain Fellows] more on social action,” Griffin said. “We all need to know how to advocate for ourselves and what tactics and strategies go into advancing issues that we care about.”   

In addition to working as a Brain Fellow, Doyle teamed up with Claudine Grunenwald Kirschner, director of first-year and sophomore experience.   

Sophomore Year Experience is a new initiative that extends First-Year Experience and offers more resources to students as they begin to deepen their connection to BW.  

“The kinds of outcomes that [Doyle] wanted from the mentorship and empowerment program made a lot of sense for it to become a function out of my area because those are the exact kinds of experiences that we want sophomores to have as a growth experience,” Grunewald Kirschner said.  

Students interested in the program will have to apply via an online application and be interviewed before being selected. There are eight spots available for the Spring 2023 semester. The group will meet biweekly, creating opportunities for the students within the group to connect with each other and to alumni who will serve as one-on-one mentors.  

“Half of the time will be dedicated to personal development, while the other half will be dedicated to professional development,” Doyle said. “We will be bringing in an alumnus every week to talk about a trait that they have and how they have developed and used it in the workplace.”   

Doyle said the project stems from her own experiences as a female-identifying student on campus and her own struggles to find community and mentorship.  

“The mentorship part came from the women’s summit that I attended last year,” Doyle said. “That was the first time on campus that I felt like I had access to these professionals and faculty that I don’t see every day. I left wanting something more prolonged instead of just an end-of-year event.”   

Doyle said sophomores are targeted because of the nature of experiences and development that occur in their college environment during that year.   

“Sophomores are the perfect year for this. Freshman year, students are coming in and getting settled and trying to figure out what they want to do,” Doyle said. “Then, they come into that second year, and they are ready to go. [ … They are] starting to get more leadership opportunities and get more responsibilities, so we want to give sophomores the tools to navigate these areas that they are starting to take on.”   

The pilot for the program will launch in Spring 2023 with applications officially available on Friday, Nov. 18. Applicants must be in their second year at BW and self-identify as female to qualify for the program. Students can find the link to the application on fliers and social media, and the application must be completed by Nov. 28 to be considered.   

“We are looking for students who want to be involved,” Doyle said. “We are super grateful for the alumni that are coming in and spending their time to help these students grow. But everyone who qualifies is welcome and encouraged to apply.”    

For any further questions, interested students should contact Doyle at [email protected] or Grunenwald Kirschner at [email protected].