Tibbs, Cobb, Rowe

Ohio University employees (L-R): Kellea Tibbs, Joy Cobb and Anna-Kaye Rowe chat during an October 2016 recruitment event in the Women's Center

Photo courtesy of: AAUW

AAUW officers

AAUW officers (L-R): President Melanie Schori, Finance Chair Tara Stowe, Marlene De La Cruz-Guzman, membership vice president

Photo courtesy of: AAUW

AAUW membership

University administrator Lisa Clements-Flowers (left) signs up for AAUW membership on Oct. 17 with AAUW Finance Chair Tara Stowe

Photo courtesy of: AAUW

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Athens AAUW building membership to make impact in community

In an effort to boost its impact on the Athens campus and in the local community, the Athens Branch of the American Association of University Women are hosting membership drive events on the Ohio University Athens Campus.

The Athens branch of the AAUW was founded in 1927 with the goal of advancing equity for women and girls through advocacy, education and research.

Nationally, the organization was founded in 1881 to help women break through educational and economic barriers so that they can have a fair chance at success. The organization has more than 100,000 members in its more than 1,000 branches and has 500 college and university partners.

Among the Athens branch’s many functions is the funding of the Edith A. Wray Scholarship, which is given to an undergraduate Ohio University student from Athens County.

AAUW also hosts Tech Savvy, a daylong STEM career conference held each spring for girls in grades 6 through 9 and the adults who support their interest in science, technology, engineering and math.  

Melanie Schori, visiting scholar at Ohio University in environmental and plant biology, talked about the upcoming Tech Savvy event.

“Research shows that girls of those ages begin to lose confidence in those academic fields,” Schori said. “It’s a one-day hands-on workshop for them. In the morning, they receive a hands-on experience in STEM areas and are taught life skills activities in the afternoon. There’s also a keynote speech and a session for parents as far as financial aid and support for the students. Our third one will be on May 17.”

Marlene De La Cruz-Guzman, director of the Ohio University Office for Multicultural Student Access and Retention (OMSAR), said the AAUW will host more membership drive events in an effort to eclipse 100 active members. She said the group has traditionally had less than 25 members in recent years but wants to increase its numbers in order to increase its potential impact on the community.

De La Cruz-Guzman said people, including men, can join AAUW at will and there are many great professional development workshops, conferences and trainings available to them.

Michelle Clouse, an Ohio University associate professor in history, said she was drawn to AAUW because it was not just for professors and it will help her work toward her goals and interests.

”A group like AAUW provides a forum to share information so that we can be aware of what our rights and obligations are, but also do a much better job collectively of staying on top of things,” Clouse said. “A group like this provides a certain kind of camaraderie and advocacy that is very important. As issues like sexual assault, harassment and rape get more attention on college campuses, we can talk about how to take those problematic discussions and turn them into something more productive.”

Anima Donkor, an Ohio University graduate student in international studies from Ghana, said she joined AAUW because she expects to get and give a lot to the organization.

“I’m interested in everything about women because my background,” Donkor said. “I grew up with a single mother who had five children to raise alone after my father died. She broke many stereotypes by doing this. Many women in her situation would remarry so that the man can take care of her children. We need more women to break the stereotypes and not let society dictate how they should live.”

Anna-Kaye Rowe, a graduate assistant in the Ohio University Women’s Center from Jamaica, said she wanted to join AAUW because a few of her colleagues in college received scholarships from the organization.

“I did some research on it and decided to attend a meeting,” Rowe said. “It was a great opportunity to learn more about it. They are focused on youth and girls and education and development and that is something I would like to be a part of.”

Applicants for membership in the Athens branch of AAUW must have at least an associate’s degree. There is also an AAUW undergraduate student group at the University that is separate from the Athens branch.

Schori said Athens AAUW membership fees include national dues, state dues and branch dues and most of it is tax deductible.

AAUW hosts free one-hour walk-and-talks on Wednesdays at noon. The walks that leave from College Green allow participants to discuss important topics each week.

“This walk helps AAUW members learn about health and wellness and also educates them on important topics,” De La Cruz-Guzman said. “Our branch focuses on professional development for women in the Athens area.”

For more information, email Marlene De La Cruz-Guzman at delacr@ohio.edu.