Carmen Vincent is a passionate freelance editor and documentary filmmaker from Northwest Indiana. She produces and edits all kinds of content including documentary and narrative films, commercial videos, promotional videos, educational content, compilations, fundraising campaign videos, social media videos, and more.
Along with freelance video editing, Carmen directs, produces, shoots, and edits documentary films that tell raw, often misunderstood stories to amplify and validate people’s experiences because she believes we all deserve to feel understood in our own skin. She uses her personal experience with invisible disability to help inform her storytelling.
Currently, Carmen is in the production phase of a documentary titled “Teacher of Patience,” about a small-town Indiana family’s effort to educate their community, especially first responders, about how to interact with individuals with Down syndrome. You can learn more at www.teacherofpatience.com.
She holds a bachelor’s degree in Digital Media from Valparaiso University and participates in numerous professional organizations such as FWD-Doc, D-Word, Women in Media, IDA, and others. Carmen is a Nikon Storytellers Scholar, a participant in Adobe's Creator Camp, and a proud recipient of the Best International Director award at the Georgia Documentary Film Festival.
You can view her work at www.carmenvincent.com.
Where did you attend school?
I graduated from Valparaiso University in May 2020 with a B.A. in Digital Media.
What are your career aspirations? What are you doing today to make them happen?
My ultimate goal is to own and run a documentary production company and employ fellow artists with disabilities to help me tell stories about individuals and topics that are often misunderstood.
Right now, I'm focused on learning as much as I can about my craft and my industry, fostering meaningful connections, and making content that I'm proud of so I can lay foundations for that company down the line.
While I always thought I'd head to Los Angeles right away, I've found great joy in helping cultivate the filmmaking community here in Northwest Indiana. It's definitely a challenge, but I see great value in planting roots here so someday I can help create opportunities for other filmmakers from the Midwest who can't afford to live in New York, Los Angeles, or even Chicago. There are stories in Indiana that need to be told, too! Yes, even in the midst of cornfields. :)
What brought you to this career path?
I originally wanted to write for sitcoms, as I'm a lover of comedy (and I secretly harbor a dream to one day be a comedian, but that will probably stay a distant dream). I also wanted to direct narrative films that include underrepresented voices in front of and behind the camera.
I decided to get a degree in Digital Media so I could learn all aspects of the content creation process and be able to do my own website, design my own graphics and marketing materials, and film and edit my own videos and short films. Essentially, I wanted to learn a little bit of everything so I could be a better director and writer.
During my freshman year, I earned a spot on a two-week video internship that took place in Bethlehem, Palestine. There, I witnessed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with my own eyes, untouched by media bias, and I was so deeply moved. I had a breakthrough moment where I realized that there were real stories that needed to be told. As soon as I got back to the States, I made my first short documentary about a young man's gender transition story and, since then, I've found my purpose in documentary filmmaking.
To me, there's nothing more empowering than capturing someone's real story and shaping it to impact an audience. I love every part of it, from filming, to directing, to producing, to editing. I love how flexible it is – you can make a documentary anywhere. I love how collaborative it is – you can craft a crew that has just as much passion for the subject as you do. Finally, I love the impact it can have, on the audience, on the subject, and on me. I can't tell you how much I've changed as a human being because of each film I've made and seeing the look on people's faces when they watch themselves on screen telling their story is priceless. And the process never ends when the film is "done," there are impact campaigns, screenings, discussions, and more for years later. I really appreciate that opportunity to immortalize a story by enriching our communities with it.
Can you tell us about an important lesson you've learned in your career so far?
I learned that it's NORMAL to feel imposter syndrome. Like, completely normal. And people decades into their careers feel it, too. Like, what??? This blew me away and, the more I asked people about it, the more I was met with mutual feelings and experiences of questioning oneself and one’s own abilities. It's kind of amazing that most of us feel this way at one point or another.
For someone with OCD, it's hard to accept that I can't be perfect all the time (or ever, for that matter). However, knowing that we all feel like an imposter at some point in our lives has taught me to acknowledge those feelings as valid, but not let them overpower the ambition I have.
Is there a particular person who helped get you to where you are today?
So. Many. People! It's hard to name just one, but this seems like an appropriate time to highlight a particular BPW member who has impacted my career. Ashley Maria originally inspired me with her film, Pioneers in Skirts. Pioneers in Skirts inspired me to stop questioning myself and finally believe in my abilities, my work ethic, and my dreams. Since then, Ashley has served as a mentor for me, providing me with opportunities to sharpen my craft, introducing me to a valuable network, and encouraging me to just do it!
How did you find BPW? What is one memorable experience you've had with the club so far?
I found BPW through the wonderful Ashley Maria! She was kind enough to bring me to help out with the BPW NGO CSW65 Pioneers in Skirts event for the United Nations. There, I got to meet BPW trailblazers who graciously invited me into the BPW community! That United Nations event was definitely a memorable experience. It was so cool seeing people engage with the film and collaborate to create real change in our communities.
How can the BPW club and its members help you on your career path? What do you wish we knew?
I'm so grateful for the BPW club network and all the resources it offers. I'm currently working on a documentary called “Teacher of Patience” about a small-town Indiana family's effort to educate first responders and the wider community about Down syndrome and disability at large. While I am 95% done with production and heading into post-production, I am still raising money to make it all happen.
I'm looking to foster some mutually beneficial sponsorship relationships among businesses, foundations, and organizations. Sponsors would help us finish the film and execute the impact campaign and, in return, we would offer meaningful exposure and other perks. It would be an honor to include BPW club businesses, foundations, and organizations in that pursuit. Please reach out to me if you'd like to get involved!
Learn more about the film and view a six-minute sample: www.teacherofpatience.com
Reach out: email@example.com
Would you like to share contact information?
View my work and collaborate with me: www.carmenvincent.com, Check out my latest documentary-in-progress: www.teacherofpatience.com!
My "dream world" can exist. It must. I want to live in a world where being a woman doesn’t create threats and where I don’t have to prove I have the same rights as my male peers. Interning at NFBPWC has helped me discover the ways in which the world I dream of is possible and the dedicated women of NFBPWC are working to make it happen. I’m right in the middle of it, working with the leadership team of the organization advocating for women. I hope to use my voice in the issues surrounding violence against women and the Equal Rights Amendment.
Women in this country face violence every day.
One out of every five women in the US will be raped in their lifetime (NCADV), one out of every three women have faced some form of physical violence from their partners (this includes slapping, shoving, etc.) (NCADV), and every year 2,000 women are killed by men (Davidson, 2021). I don’t share those statistics to scare you, I share them to illustrate the threat of violence that women face every day.
The oppression that violence against women creates is felt by many women in our country. I felt it when my mom bought me pepper spray before starting college. I feel it when I get worried about my roommates when they’ve been gone on a date for too long. We all shared our locations with each other on our phones just in case something happens. I feel it when I notice that someone has been following me around the store for a little longer than could be considered a coincidence. This discomfort is heightened when news stories about women being targeted for assault and crime are shared. It is felt by every woman when another “here are the latest tactics that are being used to harm women” post makes rounds on the internet.
None of this is to say I live my life in fear, just in a heightened state of awareness my male peers don’t. All women know the consequences of being a woman, especially those in violent relationships. We can never be too careful because it seems like every day there is another tragic story about a woman who was beaten or killed by their partner. This kind of violence, both the threat and acts of violence, is something that I want to see changed. I want to live in a world where my womanhood doesn’t put a target on my back.
In addition to wanting to be free from the threat of violence, I want to live in a world where the ERA is an amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Because there is currently no Constitutional backing for the rights that women currently have, a lot of our rights could be overturned with a simple majority vote in Congress or judges that rule against precedent (Equal Rights Amendment). The ongoing efforts to ban abortion show how fragile our rights really are. I shouldn’t have to prove that I have the same rights as men.
Having a Constitutional amendment affirming that men and women are equal is long overdue and would help continue our fight for equality by providing an unquestionable legal backing to our efforts. I want the ERA to be ratified so that there are legal protections for every woman. Until every woman in this country is equal with men and has legal protections there is still work to do.
Interning at NFBPWC is helping me make the world I dream of a reality.
I'm learning the ins and outs of running a non-profit that advocates for women through my work with the executive committee. I’m developing my voice in ways that I never knew were possible. The connections that I am building and the skills I am gaining will allow me to become an even better advocate for women’s rights and empower the women around me to the best of my ability. My BPW internship is helping me make my dream world with equal rights for women and freedom from violence a reality.
About the Author: Bryn Norrie
Bryn Norrie is a student at the University of Colorado Boulder pursuing a degree in Political Science with a minor in Sociology and a certificate in Peace and Conflict Studies. She has been on the Dean’s List at CU Boulder for the past four semesters and has a cumulative GPA of 3.93. She will be graduating in May of 2023. Outside of academics, she is an active member of the CU Swim and Dive Club, the Socioeconomic Justice Society Club. In her free time, she also volunteers at the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center and the CU Restorative Justice Center. She is currently living in Boulder, CO but comes from an Army family so home changes most summers. Being outside and with her friends are her favorite things to do, most weekends she can be found hiking, skiing, or playing volleyball in her backyard.
Davidson, Caroline. “Now Should We Speak Femicide?” Ms. Magazine, 15 June 2021,
NCADV. “NCADV: National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.” The Nation's Leading Grassroots Voice on Domestic Violence, www.ncadv.org/statistics.
Equal Rights Amendment. “Why We Need the Equal Rights Amendment.” Equal Rights Amendment, www.equalrightsamendment.org/why.
It’s Summer 2021 and I’m interning at the National Federation of Business and Professional Women’s Clubs with their Advocacy Committee. I’ve been tasked with finding relevant content for NFBPWC social media channels; content that speaks to the membership and to an audience who is versed in the challenges of being a woman. The organization is historic. Founded in 1919, NFBPWC represents women in professional roles. I’m working hard to find my place here.
I sit in the darkness of my room, with only the glow of my laptop, searching for content, scrolling through an endless column of articles, blogs, and news sites looking for news. I find multitudes of feeds broadcasting the same things around women’s rights, diversity, equity, inclusion, unequal pay, unequal treatment in the workplace, LGBTQ+ women’s struggles, etc.
Through my internship at the NFBPWC, I’ve become more aware of my surroundings and more importantly, how I am represented and perceived in our society as a woman.
The ideas of unconscious bias and the disproportionate amount of sexual violence that women experience resonates with me most of all. I first heard of unconscious bias in a psychology class in high school. It was only until the last few years that I realized my gender would also be held under the same scrutiny as my race. Some may know this as intersectionality.
Under societal standards, women are expected to be demure, non-confrontational, a follower -- none of which are qualities of a leader. If I conform to these standards, that puts me at a disadvantage when seeking leadership roles. On the other hand, if I break out of these stereotypes and am assertive and confident, I will be deemed too “bossy” to be effective, or too “emotional” to contribute positively as a leader.
This bias begins to foster in childhood, when boys playing rowdily have the excuse, “boys will be boys,” while girls are supposed to “mature faster than boys,” and thus, are held to a higher standard when their behavior is under judgement. Ironically, I have never heard anyone finish the latter, saying, “girls mature faster than boys, so boys should look to girls as examples of leadership and maturity.”
These biases are deep-rooted, but they must be addressed, because there is no gender in the way one acts - there’s no “male” confidence and “female” meekness - there are only people, and every person should be viewed an individual.
In addition to gender bias, the sheer amount of sexual violence on the daily news is enough to make me walk home at night with my keys pointing out of my closed fist for protection. Many mothers tell their daughters to dress modestly, so as to not “ask for it.”
As a child, my mother would tell me to never walk alone at night, to wear shapeless clothing, and to not trust strange men -- “more often than not, they will try to hurt you,” she said, “and there’s nothing you can do about it.” I’ve learned about rape culture: an environment where social attitudes underplay, and sometimes even encourage, sexual violence.
The way society struggles to perceive women as both sexual and respected is a dichotomy. Victim blaming stems from our cultural views of female sexuality. “What were you wearing?” is a common question asked to victims of sexual violence once they choose to speak out.
Our culture’s taboo on women wearing revealing clothing forces them to take partial blame when they are sexually assaulted -- a woman who dares to transgress the boundaries of societal expectations is deserving of violence, it seems. Thus, many, many women who have experienced sexual violence are reluctant to speak out.
I read an article about a college student who polled her campus to gauge the amount of people who were either a victim of sexual violence, or knew someone who was. Nearly every one said yes -- a shocking 11,500 respondents, at that.
This NFBPWC internship has been providing me with the knowledge and awareness of the world around me, and I hope to use it in both advocating for change and helping women speak up with their stories. As much as representing allows me to tell others’ stories and spark change, I believe that encouraging others to tell their own stories is a thousand times more impactful. I would like to do more than advocate for women who are victims of our societal issues -- I want to be part of the solution by working to prevent these issues from continuously occurring and creating more harm.
About the Author - Anissa Yip
Anissa Yip is a student majoring in Political Science at the University of Colorado at Denver. She plans to become a criminal justice lawyer. Anissa is excited to be an intern for the National Federation of Business and Professional Women’s Clubs, as she has been interested in advocacy and activism since elementary school. She wants to continue these efforts throughout her life.
Currently, she is working on filming and directing an advocacy video on the topic of Immigration and the Immigrant Experience. She is a person from an immigrant household, and is highly passionate about the topics of inclusion and diversity in all aspects of life.
Outside of advocacy work and school, she enjoys drawing, painting, crocheting, and walking her dog. Her favorite things to draw are animals, and she frequently does commissions for peoples’ pets and other things they love.
Anissa volunteers at an Adaptive Swim Program in Littleton, where she swims every Saturday with many unique children with disabilities. On campus, she works as a Wellness Associate who stocks and helps students in the Food Pantry. There, she also gives presentations on alcohol remediation and cannabis awareness to educate students on risk management for both.
She plays ultimate frisbee and was a captain of her team in high school, and hopes to find a similar leadership role in college. Theater and the arts are also some of her passions -- one of her goals is to attend a Broadway musical someday.
Anissa has a cumulative GPA of 3.762 and is minoring in Leadership Studies.
NFBPWC Young BPW turns the spotlight on members who are making an impact in their profession. Featured members exemplify the mission of the BPW of uniting and advocating for women everywhere.
Meet Lusine Aleksanian!
Located in Hollywood, California, Lusine is a member of the BPW Hollywood Chapter. Lusine is currently applying to medical school in pursuit of a career in medicine while working at an integrative mental health outpatient center. She also loves to journal and sketch in her spare time, and she advocates for ending animal cruelty and saving the environment.
Tell us about yourself!
Born and raised in Los Angeles, I come from a family of two ethnic backgrounds; my father is from Armenia and my mother is from Guatemala. I am the middle child of 3 siblings and have 2 beautiful dogs. I have been working at an integrative mental health outpatient center, as a Neurofeedback Technician and have currently been part of the team for 3 years. My commitment to the team is fueled by the passionate individuals I work with who collectively prioritize trust, care and compassion. I love to journal and sketch during my spare time. I am also an advocate for ending animal cruelty and saving the environment.
I attended an Armenian Christian school for my primary and secondary school years, during which I grew a deep connection with my Armenian heritage. I furthered my education and earned my bachelors degree in Psychology from UC, Irvine. With each psychology course, my interest in the relationship between one’s body, brain, and mind immensely grew, therefore I decided to pursue a career in medicine. I am currently applying to medical school to pursue a medical degree.
What are your career aspirations?
My goal is to pursue a career in neuropsychiatry by practicing the disciplines of psychiatry and neurology. On a larger scale, I'd like to be an effective health advocate by integrating social factors of health into patient care. I strive to educate, empower, and provide individuals a mechanism for coming out of a state of despair and dependency.
The unpredictability of my ethnic background coincides with unpredictability of my choice to pursue a career as a medical doctor. I am a non-traditional prospective medical student, and this basically means that I did not always want to be a medical doctor. Actually, when I was 10, I really wanted to be a biologist. However, my experiences and a specific neuroscience course I took as an undergraduate was truly why I have a strong passion to study medicine. So far, my education has provided me with the fundamentals of psychology and I've learned the importance of the body & brain relationship. However, this same experience has motivated me to further my education and expand my knowledge in understanding the scientific roots of the human brain. I believe choosing a career path in the field of medicine allows an individual to use the most complex organ in the universe, our brain, to its fullest potential with the benefit of significantly improving the quality of human life.
By nature, I always aim to increase my knowledge and skills through opportunities. The clinical experience I've gained so far has helped me acquire valuable life skills and lessons. I've learned that with grit, humility & trust you can succeed in all aspects of your personal and professional life. I still have more to learn as I embark on my journey to medical school, but the skills that I've acquired so far has helped me achieve and move closer to my own goals every day.
Is there a particular person who helped get you to where you are today?
Both of my parents gave me the opportunity and freedom to choose my own career path. For this I am very blessed and grateful. I specifically remember a moment during my undergraduate years when I felt lost because students around me already chose their career path while I was still undecided. I spoke with my father about my thoughts and concerns with precious time being waste and being unsure of my future career choices. His response to me was - "It is never a waste of time, when you are deciding on what you want to do for the rest of your life." It was then when I realized that my goal was not to choose a career, but instead my goal was to become a medical doctor, and this meant no amount of time I put into achieving this goal should be considered a waste. These words were very comforting and continue to motivate me to pursue my passion.
How did you find BPW?
I first discovered BPW from an established BPW member. From the moment I joined this organization, I have met the most inspiring group of women that have empowered me in all aspects of my life both professional and personal. They've really expanded my knowledge in understanding the mission to achieve equity for all women in the workforce through advocacy, education, and information. There have been several memorable experiences however if I had to choose, it would be celebrating Hollywood BPW's 100th anniversary via zoom. It was an honor to gather with fellow BPW members via zoom and spend an evening recognizing the achievements and accomplishments of past and current members throughout the years. I find it especially rewarding to hear the one-of-a-kind stories in each member’s life, because each person’s unique qualities intrigue me.
To continue to empower one another and to always remember that TOGETHER we can achieve more.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?
During the pandemic I joined LA COVID-19 Volunteers at UCLA assisting in Personal Protective Equipment assembly and constructing Face Shields for doctors all across the country during time of shortage.
You can connect with Lusine on
The National Federation of Business & Professional Women Holds Parallel Event at the United Nations CSW65
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Washington, DC, USA, February, 2, 2021
As part of the 2021 United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) event, the National Federation of Business & Professional Women’s Clubs (NFBPWC) will hold a parallel event on using impact activation events to help fast track a gender-equitable pandemic recovery. [Link to Event]
To be held on March 18, 2021, the event will focus on how the pandemic has exposed vulnerabilities that adversely affect women & girls all over the globe, forcing a shift in priorities and funding across public and private sectors.
The sixty-fifth session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW65), the primary intergovernmental forum for discussing gender equality and empowerment, will take place virtually this year from March 15 to 26. This annual event is attended by member states, UN entities, and global UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) accredited non-governmental organizations.
#pandemic #equality #unitednations #girls #women
With a goal to showcase innovative ways for non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and activists to accelerate awareness and action for this issue, NFBPWC will host two screenings of the award-winning film Pioneers in Skirts – a film where viewers can see their role in the solution, feel hopeful, and are motivated to act.
CSW65 attendees will be able to view the film for one week of on-demand screenings as well as during a March 18 one-hour LIVE Filmmaker Watch Party screening event, followed by an interactive expert panel discussion.
Representatives of Member States, UN entities, and ECOSOC-accredited NGOs from all regions of the world are invited to join the filmmakers and esteemed panelists for a post-screening impact discussion on how to use events like this one to advance women and girls’ status around the globe. The discussion will feature interactive elements to encourage audience engagement, as well as best practices for how to activate films and other media to influence empathy, bring awareness to solutions, and fast track progress towards the achievement of gender equality.
For information on how to RSVP for the screenings and the panel event, visit https://www.nfbpwc.org/event-4123114.
“Organizations like BPW spent the first part of the pandemic in shock over the backsliding of progress made towards the achievement of gender equality,” said Megan Shellman-Rickard, President of NFBPWC. “We quickly pivoted to taking action – and want to empower others to do so, too.”
With everyone going virtual and the need to keep awareness and progress moving forward, storytelling is even more important to keep audiences engaged in creating a successful mission. Stories have the power to change minds and move hearts. “Good storytelling like Pioneers in Skirts can engage the brain in ways other forms of communication simply cannot,” shared Producer Lea-Ann W. Berst.
“We are proud of the conversations audiences have after screening our film,” says the film’s Director Ashley Maria. “Viewers at this screening, and the Impact Relay* screenings around the world, will be empowered to share their truths, ask questions, and take action.”
To see the kind of conversations sparked by Pioneers in Skirts, watch the Meaningful Conversations highlight reel:
RSVP: For information on how to RSVP for the screenings and the panel event, visit https://www.nfbpwc.org/event-4123114.
About NFBPWC: The National Federation of Business and Professional Women's Clubs (NFBPWC/USA) works to develop the professional, business and leadership potential of women at all levels, and advocates for equal participation of women and men in power and decision-making roles.
NFBPWC/USA is an affiliate of the International Federation of Business and Professional Women (BPW International) – which is also an NGO that has had general consultative status with the United Nations through the ECOSOC since 1947. At present, there are a total of 21 members serving as representatives of IFBPW at the United Nations and its subsidiary organizations, specialized agencies and related organizations. For more information, please visit: https://www.nfbpwc.org.
About the film: Pioneers in Skirts® is a feature documentary examining the need for gender parity in our culture from the perspective of a female filmmaker who was frustrated with her own problems in the film industry.
In an inspiring portrait of perseverance and determination, director Ashley Maria expands her search to include other industries and society in general. She shares her own story, but she also follows the journey of 3 girls on a robotic team, their fathers, as well as a young mother – all while traveling the U.S., speaking to fellow pioneering women and topic experts who had solutions to share. By the end of her quest, Ashley finds out how we ALL can address the stereotyping and sexism that can chip away at a woman, hurt her potential, and make her feel like she must re-think her dreams.
For more information, please visit: https://www.pioneersinskirts.com.
*About the Pioneers in Skirts Impact Relay: The March 18, 2021 screening will be the kickoff event for the Pioneers in Skirts Impact Relay – where activation efforts surrounding nationally-focused screenings will be used to cast a broader scope of awareness for the need to address gender equality and human rights issues.
The impact campaign involves having prospective movie screening hosts apply to be chosen for a free movie screening and filmmaker post-screening Q&A. Screening in a multitude of diverse locations around the globe, the team at Pioneers in Skirts aims to re-ignite governments, civil society, businesses, and other stakeholders to work to eliminate discrimination against women and girls and achieve equality in all areas of life.
With projections showing that women are being disproportionately affected by the pandemic, they want the Impact Relay to also be a push for women to be at the heart of pandemic recovery efforts.
About NGO parallel events: The NGO Commission on the Status of Women a group of New York–based women’s NGOs in consultative status with the Economic and Social Council (NGO CSW/NY), organizes the civil society side of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW). Running parallel to the events occurring within the UN Headquarters, the NGO CSW events provide civil society the opportunity to engage in the processes and events of CSW without ECOSOC-accreditation or a UN grounds pass.
Over the two weeks of the Commission on the Status of Women, NGO CSW/NY organizes events that inform, engage and inspire grassroots efforts and advocacy needed to empower women and girls. For more information, please visit https://ngocsw.org/ngo-csw-forum.
NFBPWC Media Relationspress@nfbpwc.org +1 (818) 848-2848
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Meet Keri Hess!
A member of BPW/Downtown Sacramento and BPW/California, Keri grew up in Massachusetts, 26.2 mi from Boston, the start of the Boston Marathon! She moved back to California when she was 17, went to Sacramento State University and received a B.S. in Health Science, minoring in Biology.
Keri’s first job after undergrad was with a county health department where she worked on tobacco and smoke-free policies for local jurisdictions and on motor vehicle and car seat safety. She became certified as a Child Passenger Safety Technician and went on to start the first Car Seat Recycling Program in Northern California (yes, car seats expire!).
This program is still operating today even after Keri left the county upon receiving her Master's in Public Health from University of New England and moving on. At present, she works for a non-profit, Health Education Council, where they seek to cultivate health and wellbeing in underserved communities.
Keri continues to work on tobacco and smoke-free policy at a regional level, serving Latino Communities in 14 counties in Northern California, and she volunteers with her local Safe Kids Coalition to continue to keep kiddos in our community safe in their car seats.
Sacramento State University, B.S. Health Sciences, Minor Biology, University of New England, Master's in Public Health
I want to continue to create a healthier environment for communities as a whole.
I started out majoring in Biology when I "found" public health. What I like about public health is that we are trying to improve the community’s health as a whole – instead of working with individuals, we tackle problems that are affecting many.
Keri Hess at the American Public Health Association (APHA) conference in Denver, CO, presenting her work on forming the first Car Seat Recycling program in Northern California.
Working on policy is not for the faint of heart. I have been called names, yelled at, and treated differently for being a young woman in this field. I came face to face with a tobacco company representative for the first time early in my career. I couldn't stop thinking about how this man could go home at the end of the day and feel good about the work he did. Some days are hard, but at the end of the day, I know that I'm fighting the good fight.
I was a collegiate athlete for a short period of time before getting injured beyond repair. We had a counselor that would recommend classes for us that were taught by professors that were lenient on athletes. I did not like the choices of classes that were recommended to me, so I picked out a class that sounded interesting based on the description It was a biology class on diseases and plagues. The textbook was a short paperback-novel sized book called "Man and Microbes." I read it cover to cover and never missed a class. This professor held my interest and ultimately started shifting my thinking towards public health.
The director of my organization recommended that I join. Being recommended as Health Chair has been the most memorable moment thus far.
Would you like to share how you have evolved since Covid-19 disrupted 'normal' business life?
It was an adjustment to reach the general community at first. I do enjoy working from home, and since I don't have a printer, I've cut back on the paper I use, so it's better for the environment, too!
A member of BPW/NYC, Tiara is a New York State licensed attorney. She currently works for a community-based legal service provider, representing tenants in their housing unit.
I have a bachelor’s degree in Studio Art and Media Studies from Hunter College. I graduated from American University Washington College of Law.
I became a lawyer because I wanted to work on telecommunication policy. I first became interested in this while in undergrad due to a course called Internet and Society. During my final year of law school, I was a part of my school's Disability Right Law Clinic. I realized then that I enjoyed direct legal services more and had a desire to help people.
I found BPW through a class in undergrad. The president of NFBPWC/NYC (then EPW-NYC) was looking for an intern and the class required practical experience. My most memorable experience is helping build the new BPW/NYC website.
Networking and continued education are important parts of a legal career. I hope to meet other women that I can learn from.
Connect with Tiara on LinkedIn.
Meet Stephanie Samedi!
A member of BPW/NYC, Stephanie is a Diversity and Inclusion professional whose work centers on creating equitable and inclusive environments to support diverse workforces. She studied Social and Cultural Analysis at NYU with concentrations in Critical Race Theory and Gender Studies. At Harvard Graduate School of Education, she continued to study race and equity issues in the context of education and nonprofit spaces.
While at Harvard, Stephanie worked on the implementation of a Diversity Index which provided tools and guidelines to be used by business units to support students.
Outside of work she enjoys cooking and finding new ways to be creative.
Q: Tell us about your education.
I completed my undergraduate studies at NYU and received an Ed.M. from Harvard.
I hope to continue to work in the Diversity & Inclusion space. This career path is fairly new, so I am still finding my place within the field.
Q: What brought you to this career path?
My studies have been interdisciplinary with a focus on critical race theory. I wanted to find a career path that aligned with my interests and values.
I have learned how powerful it can be to allow people to express their concerns and voice their opinions about how to make business more equitable. We can all learn a lot from each other.
Q: How did you find BPW?
BPW was recommended to me by a friend. I served as the VP of Programming and helped to organize our virtual events. Those events were my most memorable experiences because I learned so much from the presenters and attendees.
Q: How can the BPW club and its members help you on your career path?
I wish that I had more access to D&I professionals. The way we network has completely shifted and it would be great to meet more people on a similar career path or with similar interests.
I started work 2 weeks before my office went remote. I had to learn how to adjust to my new job as I was also adapting to our new normal. However, this has given us the opportunity to connect with others in our global offices, to have candid conversations about the current events, and to learn how to be inclusive of more voices.
Meet Caroline Rakus-Wojciechowski!
Caroline graduated from Harvard College in 2018 with a B.A. in Anthropology, a completed pre-medical track, a secondary field in human evolutionary biology, and a language citation in Spanish Language and Literature. She is originally from Lindenhurst, NY.
She is currently a Global Goals Ambassador for Sustainable Cities and Communities, a GPODS (Global Policy, Diplomacy, and Sustainability) Fellow, and serves as the Chief Partnership and Innovation Officer for the Youth Sustainability Development Conference 2021: Pan-African Edition, the Global Board Treasurer for the International Association of Political Science Student, the Founding President & Chairwoman for the UNA Brooklyn Chapter Young Professionals, and is an En-Roads Climate Ambassador and Climate Reality Leader. She is a YOUNGA 2020 Delegate and has attended the 2019 UNGA74 Youth Climate Summit and Social Good Summits.
For her innovative work and partnerships for Sustainable Cities and Communities and concern for adverse effects on youth empowerment, she was invited to the 2019 World Bank Group Youth Summit Delegate for Smarter Cities for a Resilient Future and the First Annual Conference in Global Energy Transition Law and Policy. She has also been a youth speaker at several conferences hosted by ANYL4PSD Africa, the YSDC Network, EnviPol, and Avant Guarde, Ltd. on issues ranging from quality education, decent work, climate action, and partnerships.
Caroline is currently consulting for a Harvard College team building a spring semester curriculum on sustainability, and she is preparing to launch an independent sustainability consulting startup based out of New York City.
I graduated from Harvard College in 2018 with a B.A. in Anthropology and completed Pre-Medical track, minor in Human Evolutionary Biology, and Language Citation in Spanish Language and Literature.
Q: What are you doing today to make your career aspirations come to fruition?
My goal is to be a sustainability and development consultant for the United Nations, universities, and businesses. This means I would be able to use my practical and applied knowledge of creating sustainable communities and development programs on a Global Scale and use it to teach and empower young people, facilitate intergenerational conversations, and most importantly, empower communities to implement their own sustainable development programs. I am currently developing Taita-a sustainability consulting firm, where I will be serving as co-CEO. I also serve as Chief Partnership and Innovation Officer for the YSDC 2021: Pan-African Edition. These programs are dear to me because they have allowed me to empower communities to invest in youth potential through education, incorporate those left furthest behind into the intergenerational hierarchy of the job market, and to create sustainable solutions of their own.
A friend and I recently discussed this: Treat others how you weren't treated. Growing up, Education became Empowerment. As a low-income, first-generation Polish-American, I didn't have the luxuries that my peers had growing up- my hardworking parents were not always able to afford me going to extracurricular programs or giving me money to buy lunch at school. Add to this, lack of a social relationship with my peers in my childhood because I had a responsibility to my severely autistic sister, the only outlet that gave me comfort was my studies. During college, I intended my then-calling to be a pediatric doctor to be the way that I teach youth about their health and lead them to healthier lifestyles and stop unhealthy areas of their lives, like domestic abuse, from stifling their potential. On the other hand, I also majored in the archaeology track of anthropology because I was deeply invested in understanding the histories of cultural norms and traditions, as well as connecting with people by culturally immersing myself on an interpersonal level during any study-abroad programs. After college, I searched for opportunities to be an educator, but I found the traditional routes and curricula were no appealing to me- I was far more attracted to charter schools with innovative, project-based learning programs. Now, two years after graduation, I have found my exciting niche in social innovation and entrepreneurism through collaborating on innovative sustainability programs on a global level and am in the process of making that dream and vocation a reality. I am a global citizen and a servant leader and nothing brings me more joy and humility than helping others find their vocations and empowering them to achieve those vocations.
Q: Can you tell us about an important lesson you've learned in your career so far?
I wish I hadn't thought there was "a right path" and "the right career for someone who [insert achievement here]." I'm grateful for my path: student to aspiring neurosurgeon to aspiring JD International Relations/MA Forensic Anthropology to social entrepreneur and global citizen. However, beginning in late middle school through this year really, I had a mentality of "What job can I do that will give me the respect I did not get growing up? What recognition and accolades can I achieve that will show I'm qualified?" For some people, that is enough for them to find their vocation and I am so happy for them. For me, this was not enough. One of my mentors had asked me, "In all of these things you're doing, where is Caroline?" and I had no response. Truly, of the 7 pages of my CV, I could point to only two or three things that really defined the character and values that make me who I am because those are the projects where I am my most authentic self. Furthermore, they were not at all related to the "right path" that I had been grasping for so blindly for years. I found my calling when I looked at what mattered to me and ever since, have been following "my path," and I feel so much stronger and happier for it.
Q: Is there a particular person who helped get you to where you are today?
“Uncle” Sherman, my greatest mentor, my personal trainer, and my friend. I’m actually writing a book on all the lessons that I learned from him. When I first met Sherman, I thought he was the meanest, scariest man: I was doing the Krav Maga Academy 6-week challenge and had to be in NYC early for an interview, so I decided to do a 7AM class. Now, anyone who knows me knows that I love to smile- it is my natural state. The first words I heard out of Sherman Mui’s mouth were “THERE IS NO SMILING IN MY CLASS!” and I was terrified. Of course, now after 2 years with the Academy- gone- FitiHit Official, Sherman is by far my favorite trainer because he cares so much about the well-being, mental and physical, of his students and works so hard to accomplish that.
During COVID, I began personal outdoor training (yes, my VO2 Max increased from training in a mask) with Sherman and it was the biggest mental game of my life. Every time that I put on the gloves, it was an hour of battle that I had with myself. And every session, Sherman would yell and shout and I would laugh and cry. Then one day, I realized “Get[ing] out of [my] head” meant more than just on the mat: it was a lifestyle and a mindset. I started looking more closely at Sherman’s sayings and realized a lot of what he said could help me transcend my mental barriers and consequently, I grew stronger every time I trained with him and it spilled over into other areas of my life. I felt empowered to do things I didn’t think were possible and am shifting my mindset into a more self-loving and self-empowering one, which is a hallmark of achieving any goal or career. I wouldn’t have gotten to where I am with any of my programs if not for Sherman’s support.
BPW found me- I graduated from Harvard, so naturally, after graduating, I was enrolled in the Harvard Club of NYC membership. It was there that I met Francesca Burack, President of the NFBPWC/NYC and powerhouse of a woman. She became a mentor and friend to me and inspired me to join this great organization with her passion. I think she is one of the most devoted people to this organization and has contributed a font of knowledge and effort in making it an incredible community for women. I enjoyed being the Communications and PR Chair and my one-on-one meeting with Francesca the most so far!
If you know or need anyone to consult on strategizing a development program or sustainable solution, whether for a person or business, please put them in touch with me. Also, as I’m developing my first business, putting me in touch with anyone who has experience in developing their own business in consulting or nonprofit would be greatly appreciated.
Q: Can you share how you have evolved since Covid-19 disrupted 'normal' professional life?
Covid-19, despite being a horrible virus, allowed for me to have time to develop my business, study, improve my health, and figure out what I want to do once it is over.
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Meet Hannah Hughes!
Located in Raleigh, North Carolina, Hannah is a member of the North Carolina Federation of Business and Professional Women’s Club.
My name is Hannah Hughes, I am 19 years old and from the Outer Banks of North Carolina. I currently attend NC State University in Raleigh and am working towards developing a career. I study Communication in Public Relations, and Spanish Language and Literature.
Q: What are you doing today to make your career aspirations come to fruition?
I want to delve into the world of pharmaceutical sales with a possible side job of interpretation and translation. I currently own a CBD company to figure out what it is like to handle "supplements," and I work as a tutor and caregiver for Hispanic families in Raleigh whose parents only speak Spanish.
What brought me to this career path was my interpersonal skills with doctors and administrators in the medical field. I was never great with biology and intensive stem classes throughout college, so when I found the Communications department it was a godsend for me. I loved it and found out that pharmaceutical sales can be a strong option for those with any degree relating to the interaction and leadership skills that were required to obtain it. I am very into the prevention and treatment of chronic conditions through both pharmaceutical and holistic approaches and want to further a career in that direction. My mother had stage three breast cancer, and I had to learn at a very young age the pharmaceutical sides of the medical field per diagnoses.
Take classes about subjects you actually want to learn about yourself outside of the classroom and ask doctors in the field if you can interview them.
My parents are my biggest supporters, my dad went to NC State as well and told me to do what interests me. My mom makes sure I am doing well and that I take time for myself to make me the best possible version of myself. I talk to them every day and they help advise me on what options I have and give me confidence.
Q: How did you find BPW?
Secretary Marsha contacted me, she knew I was studying Spanish and could be a possible interpreter. My experience so far was interpreting and lighting the candle during the candle lighting ceremony at the National Convention.
Q: How can the BPW club and its members help you on your career path? What do you wish we knew?
I’d like help with resume building, building my experience, and help determining my strengths and weaknesses while interpreting in Spanish. I am also learning a bit about the world of politics and bureaucracy which is important in every field.
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