Student Hones Leadership Skills


MCLA student Esther Fan Fan '11 recently enhanced her college experience when she attended the National Education for Women (NEW) Leadership New England 2010 Summer Institute at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, N.H.

The institute - which offers college women a unique opportunity to hone their leadership skills, learn about civic engagement and meet with successful women - was a perfect fit for Fan Fan, who is from Boston, Mass. She is majoring in sociology with minors in women's studies and child and family studies.

"We had a lot of speakers come in, and we practiced our public speaking by introducing them," said Fan Fan. "They were all phenomenal."

The speakers included New Hampshire Supreme Court Associate Justice Carol Ann Conboy, and a former lieutenant governor for Massachusetts - Kerry Healey. As a participant in the institute, Fan Fan also met many women who work in Massachusetts government.

While a main purpose of the institute was to help participants to become more comfortable with public speaking, "the underlying theme was to encourage young women to become more involved in politics so it's not just a man's world," Fan Fan explained. "The institute definitely encouraged me to take a second look at politics. It inspired me to become more politically active."

Fan Fan has had an interest in women and their roles and challenges in today's society since she was in high school. This interest has continued to develop at MCLA.

"MCLA has broadened my range of thinking. It's opened my eyes to so many different things I can do to help women in so many different areas," she said.

This fall, Fan Fan will work with the Young Parent Program in North Adams, which provides counseling and case management services for pregnant and parenting teens in the area. Also interested in helping young people, she also hopes to become involved with CASA - or Court Appointed Special Advocate -  in New Hampshire, after graduating next spring.

One of the things she most appreciates about MCLA is the community aspect of the college.

"It's very easy to get involved and there's always something going on. I am a part of not just the campus community, but I go outside into the North Adams community because of the different clubs I'm involved with," Fan Fan explained.

"The Pathways club helps me go out to youth centers and help them learn about college. You help them learn about all the many things they can do," she continued. "These kids range in age anywhere from elementary school through high school. A lot of them probably never thought about going to college or thought that college is for rich kids. A lot of them can't afford it. I can relate to them because I ever thought that I could go to college. When I was in high school that was not even on my radar. But we can go out and they can see me. That's what I like about MCLA."

In addition to being a dedicated volunteer, during her three years in college, Fan Fan has served as peer advisor and treasurer of the NeXXus step squad. In September 2012, she plans to enter the Master's International Peace Corps program, where she will combine Peace Corps service with a master's degree program.