Boston College’s annual Own It women’s summit, designed to bring intentional conversations and thoughts about women’s leadership to BC, is returning for its third year and will offer some new and exciting changes from previous years. Those who have attended in the past know it to be a spring semester event, but this year’s day-long summit is coming up this fall, taking place on Saturday, November 12.
The event’s co-chair, Alexis Teixeira, CSOM ‘17, notes four major reasons for the decision to change the summit to the fall semester: it works better within the schedules of the Women’s Center and the Office of Student Involvement, without whom the event would not be possible; it gives first semester freshmen a jumping off point to get involved at BC; it is a network-building opportunity and a point of inspiration and reflection for seniors; and there is a palpable energy that fall semester brings that the Own It team hopes will generate more excitement at their day-long event.
This year will see other changes as well, such as a smaller organizing board of eight members (in past years there were more than 20 members), more intentional speakers and conversations, and a change in catering—Fuel America will be providing breakfast. Furthermore, participants who have been to Own It all three years will hopefully notice it becoming more institutionalized.
“It’s set in stone, as we now know that Own It has a place in the BC community,” shared Teixeira, who in her final year at BC and as an organizer of Own It hopes to see the summit become better—not bigger—in coming years.
This year “better” may be thanks to the board’s choice of keynote speaker, Riham Osman. The University of Mary Washington alum boasts an impressive resume as the Muslim Public Affairs Council’s media and communications specialist, and has also been a key player in fighting for Muslim rights in the United States and abroad. She’s also helped spark awareness for Muslim-Americans in the media, thanks in part to her professional relationship with President Obama and her appearances on various news networks and in several notable newspapers.
Teixeira remarks that the decision to ask Osman to participate in Own It was based on several factors, and that the board members (and Osman) are eager for her presentation. The Own It team feels that Osman, who is younger than past keynote speakers, will be more relatable to the Summit’s crowd, and that her “authentic and genuine” personality will spark great responses. Teixeira also noted that at BC diverse views are sometimes not at the forefront, and she believes more exposure to the Muslim community will be an exciting and important change of pace. She is particularly excited for the outcome of the Q&A section of the keynote.
The keynote is not the only event to look forward to, however; the summit includes main-stage presentations and breakout workshops that attendees have signed up to participate in, which feature a diverse array of subject matter and speakers.
Teixeira is especially excited for one main stage speaker Karen Akunowicz, who is the executive chef at Boston’s Myers + Chang restaurant and has competed on the Bravo show “Top Chef.” Besides her professional accomplishments, Akunowicz is a self described “queer fierce femme” and is expected to be an entertaining and inspiring speaker.
There are roughly 20 (free) tickets left for the 2016 Own It summit, but Teixeira observes that they are going quickly. After two years of amazing success for Teixeira, her co-organizer Bella Valentini, and the rest of the Own It board, we can anticipate a stronger and more intentional summit than ever come November 12. Make a point to be a part of this up-and-coming BC tradition.