Boston College students can tout endless accomplishments, be them academic, athletic, professional, service-orientated, or in many cases, all of the above. Some students have accomplished far more than many would ever think possible of a twenty-something.
One such student is Alexis Teixeira, CSOM ‘17. Her passion for empowering women and creating a world that welcomes women to achieve their full potential is embodied in the second annual Own It Summit, which took place April 10.
Teixeira is the co-organizer of Own It at BC, and describes herself as fortunate to have been able to orchestrate its existence for the past two years.
Many within the BC community have attended Own It and felt its energy of empowerment. In the days immediately following the Summit, its praises were sung about everything from the speakers, to the bags attendees received upon arrival, to the acoustic Juice performance at lunch.
Teixeira was also reminded of the positive impact Own It had on the BC community in the following days, when a fellow Plex go-er approached her saying that she couldn’t stop thinking about what she had heard and seen at Own It.
Teixeira continually emphasizes how much of a group effort Own It was, and that although she was one of the three women to dream up a summit specifically for BC’s women, she by no means was the one who made it possible. “We just had an idea,” Teixeira said. “The group made it into what it is.”
What was this idea? Teixeira has a tradition of making female empowerment a focus in her life, stemming from her freshmen year of high school.
Through the organization Vital Voices, she had the opportunity to contribute to building a private school for girls in Kenya. This experience opened her eyes to the issues of inequality plaguing women all over the world and sparked her passion for women’s issues.
Once she arrived at BC--her dream school--her passion only grew. “I’m a nerd,” Teixeira claims, saying that she is constantly reading books and articles about women’s issues. Her freshman year, UGBC put on a women’s conference which she attended, and that summer she attended a professional women’s conference, which ultimately inspired her to start thinking up a similar event for BC.
At the professional summit she was inspired, but she realized that a lot of what she was hearing was “high power talking to high power.” These women were already at the top, taking the world by storm--which Teixeira loved.
But she wondered how she might bring their words of wisdom to Millennials, students who needed to learn from these women so that once they graduated, so they could ascend to positions of power in their fields as well.
She approached Caela McCann '15, from her hometown of Westport, CT, with the idea of bringing a women’s conference of that level to BC. McCann had heard of Own It, an annual conference put on at Georgetown University, and the two set to work bringing Own It to BC.
They recruited Lily Peng, MCAS ‘17, and from there, the three of them recruited a group of 30 students to put the plan in motion. “I came in with a big idea, Lily was very logical and technical, and Caela was very detail oriented. We recruited a board of 30 students.”
She credits Own It’s success solely to this passionate group of students, as well as to the positive reception they received from the BC community.
This year the advisory board was comprised of 22 students, plus Teixeira's co-chair, Samina Gan, MCAS '17. Next year she thinks it will be closer to 10 advisors alongside herself and next year’s co-chair Bella Valentini, MCAS '17, but she maintains that the success of Own It is “a culmination of amazing passion.”
Own It is only one of Teixeira’s feats. She is also co-president of Women in Business, a community that empowers undergraduate females. The organization does this by asking Father Himes’ three questions: What brings me joy, what am I good at, and what does the world need me to be?
As a Finance and Entrepreneurship double concentrator in CSOM, Teixeira often attends networking events with alumni where she found that she was almost always one of very few female students in attendance.
She also noticed that if she were to advocate for herself by asking questions during a session, there was a clear divide between how her question would be received versus a male student’s question.
She believes that this is why Women in Business matters: It fosters an environment where female students can get together with alumni to learn about their business experiences and accomplishments in low-pressure, authentic interactions. This is achieved through a network of 1,200 Women in Business students and alumni.
Teixeira is also in the midst of bringing this fostering environment into a classroom setting. She has a strong relationship with professor Judith Clair, her Leadership professor and research mentor. Currently the two of them are creating a syllabus for a new course they hope to add to the CSOM curriculum next spring: Gender and Leadership.
Teixeira had been hoping to take a similar class at the graduate level from Clair, but when the course was cancelled, the two were inspired to create something that would permit undergrads to access the same material. Teixeira has chosen many of the tentative readings for the class and, if it becomes a reality, may serve as the TA for the course.
Above all, Teixeira is passionate about bringing out the best in other people. She loves BC because “Every day, I am inspired by seeing students doing amazing things."
She knows that women have extra hurdles to jump over, some of them bigger or smaller than others, and she devotes her time to helping other women get over those hurdles, and plans to continue doing so after graduation.
“My heart lies in paying it forward,” says Teixeira, noting that her goal is to expand education to all the girls in the world who are currently without it.
“Not only is it wrong not to educate girls, but it is a waste of resources,” she says. Though she admits that she does not know exactly how her life will lend itself to following this path, it is most certainly the one she plans to charge down.