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DSW Students Represent College at Faculty Women of Color Conference

Chenita Rountree
Pamela Blueford

Chenita Rountree and Pamela Blueford, both DSW students, represented UTCSW at the Faculty Women of Color in the Academy (FWCA) conference held at Virginia Tech in April. The conference is a unique educational and professional opportunity for indigenous and women of color in higher education to network, engage, and learn with colleagues from around the country. Rountree and Blueford joined Associate Dean Dr. Camille Hall, Dr. Patricia Bamwine, and Dr. Andrea Joseph-McCatty at the conference.

Was this your first time attending this conference?
Rountree: It was my first time attending and I was impressed and excited with the great content shared over those three days. All the speakers were amazingly insightful and pioneers in their professional domains. Yet, despite the obstacles that could block their success, they did not let their gender, race, or ethnicity hinder their progress. Perseverance is the best word to describe all the speakers who graced the conference stage. 

Blueford: This was my first time attending the conference and I am so grateful for the opportunity. The conference was very uplifting and the positivity at the event was amazing. I look forward to attending this conference next year. 

What was your favorite part of the conference?

Rountree: My favorite part of the conference was the workshops. Each workshop offered a new opportunity to learn, make friendly contact with the person beside me, and share “ah-hah” moments with the speaker. Everyone I interacted with during the conference was welcoming and excited to be there. I had breakfast, lunch, and dinner with someone new every day and night. The positive energy was contagious!

Blueford: Overall, I felt the conference was highly organized and Dr. Pratte-Clarke was very welcoming. Although I did not know anyone at the conference, the fellowship with attendees made me feel connected. This is something that I rarely experience at other conferences. Each workshop I attended was very informative and exceeded all my expectations. In addition, all the meals provided by the conference were delicious.  

What do you hope to do once you graduate?
Rountree: My professional hopes after graduation change weekly. The conference made me appreciate the impact of the academic setting. Teaching allows me to use my social work skills differently. In a perfect world, the clinical, educational, and program development lenses will overlap for the ideal position for me.

Blueford: Upon graduation, I would like to serve as an Adjunct Professor in a Social Work program. I would also like to eventually open a private mental health practice.

Do you have any takeaways that you learned from the conference that you think will help your school/career?
Rountree: My biggest takeaway came from one of the workshops entitled “Lean on Me: Curating Your Own Personal Board of Directors-Career Development with Intentionality.” The speaker guided the audience in exercises to understand a personal board of directors’ purpose, attributes, and outcomes. I was challenged to consider who is on my board, what purpose they serve, and why I should let them stay. Additionally, I was encouraged to think about my personal board’s offerings. I carry onus in their wanting to invest in me. 

Blueford: My takeaway is to never give up. Listening to presenters and attendees share their stories about how they persevered in academia during a time of adversity. It reinforced the importance of having a strong support system, remaining positive, and practicing good self-care regardless of the obstacles that are placed in front of me.