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Women’s leadership program welcomes international, in-state students to KU

Monday, July 07, 2014

LAWRENCE – The University of Kansas will welcome a new set of students to campus this summer. Women from Afghanistan, India, Morocco, Mongolia, Pakistan, Zambia and Kansas will be on the Lawrence campus for the Kansas Women’s Leadership Institute.

Starting Wednesday, July 9, the women will participate in various leadership and educational opportunities for three weeks. The program will culminate with the women presenting project proposals to improve their home communities. KWLI aims to provide an experience that develops leadership, cultivates collaboration and elevates the power of women’s voices.

“We are again honored and excited to welcome an incredible group of dynamic, engaged, motivated, and inspiring women to be part of the KU and Kansas community,” said Mary Banwart, academic director of KWLI. “This will be a transformational experience focused on empowering our women to effectively engage in the process of leadership to make change on the issues about which they care the most."

The women will connect with academic and professional women mentors, participate in cultural exchanges, attend classes and learn about Kansas and the United States through travel. The women will arrive in Lawrence after spending two weeks in Washington, D.C., learning about U.S. government, history and culture.

Undergraduate women at Kansas universities and colleges were invited to apply to KWLI for the first time this year, with preference given to applicants from small or rural communities. Six women from Kansas were accepted into the program.

The Kansas participants:

  • Brittany Bange, Colby, junior in graphic design and painting, Fort Hays State University
  • Miranda Benedict, Garden City, sophomore in business, Garden City Community College
  • Allyson Briggs, Ottawa, junior in biochemistry, KU
  • BreShawna Briggs, Wamego, freshman in accounting and East Asian languages and cultures, KU
  • Emily Luedtke, Sedgwick, junior in peace and communication, Bethel College
  • Alyssa Reed, Hays, sophomore in speech language pathology and Spanish, Fort Hays State University

“This is the first year for us to welcome Kansas women as participants in the program, joining alongside our international participants,” said Becky Eason, KWLI administrative director. “Already we are seeing how they are connecting across cultures and across country borders to address common issues and concerns.”

KWLI organizers included Kansan students to offer an opportunity to deepen the international students’ understanding of American culture and society while also allowing for students from Kansas to gain first-hand understanding of other cultures.

This is the fifth consecutive year KU has hosted the Women’s Leadership Institute, which is funded through the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Other programs supported by the bureau include the Fulbright Program and the International Visitor Leadership Program. The goal of the programs overseen by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs is to increase mutual understanding between the United States and other countries. KWLI is hosted through the Department of Communication Studies at KU.

The Department of Communication Studies is part of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, which encourages learning without boundaries in its more than 50 departments, programs and centers. Through innovative research and teaching, the College emphasizes interdisciplinary education, global awareness and experiential learning. The College is KU's broadest, most diverse academic unit.