Georgetown University’s OWN IT Summit Aims to Develop Young Female Leaders
Hundreds of young women chatted in excitement late last month as they waited to hear the experiences and advice of successful female business owners, lawyers and politicians.
Georgetown University hosted its seventh annual OWN IT Summit, a daylong conference that aims to bridge the gap between female leaders and college-age women. The day was filled with female-led panels and breakout sessions that addressed topics ranging from women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) to self-defense.
This year’s event began with a panel on changing workplace culture to be more gender-inclusive. Moderated by Georgetown University Law Center professor Dr. Jamillah Williams, panelists Maya Raghu, Jessica Grounds and Patricia Porter shared their thoughts on the current state of workplace cultures.
The panel encouraged young women to “see if there is concern within the company to make room for innovation” and to “listen to their gut” when applying for jobs.
“It may not feel like that at certain points in your life, or early on in your career,” said Raghu, the director of workplace equality and senior counsel at the National Women’s Law Center. “But you are and can be a leader and you have the power and the ability to sort of transform your job workplace or community.”
Spreading these messages to young women has been the mission of the OWN IT Summit since its founding in 2014. OWN IT was started by Georgetown students Helen Brosnan and Kendall Ciesemier to address the leadership gap and provide young women with an opportunity to connect with female leaders.
“We believe that by creating this space our speakers can give real advice on how to navigate the complicated road to leadership as a woman to the next generation of leaders,” Emma Turner, the executive director of OWN IT, said.
However, OWN IT isn’t just having a big impact on Georgetown students. The summit is now being held at eight other schools and has cultivated a diverse network of female students and leaders.
“It's so important for women to come together to talk about the challenges we still have, what we need to do to get to the next level,” said Grounds, the co-founder of Mine the Gap, an organization that trains industries and organizations to create and sustain gender-inclusive environments.
Georgetown sophomore Aida Ross, who attended and volunteered for the event, said OWN IT is “a great opportunity for young women to meet amazing people.” While attending the event last year, she met a panelist who later became her mentor.
“I think [OWN IT] really stood out to me because it shows how much of an impact that conferences like this have on young girls,” Ross said. “It creates a dialogue surrounding women's participation and highlights role models for strong female leadership.”
To its leadership team, the OWN IT Summit is thought to have a strong connection to International Women’s Day, which is Sunday. International Women’s Day celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women and calls for increasing gender parity around the world.
“Women face challenges, but women have conquered them,” Turner said. “OWN IT celebrates the potential and great impact that women already have in our world."
See all News Updates of the Day
Biden Cancels Federal Student Loans for Nearly 153,000 Borrowers
President Joe Biden said Wednesday that while a college degree was still a ticket to a better life, that ticket is often too expensive, as he announced he was canceling federal student loans for nearly 153,000 borrowers.
Biden, who is in the midst of a three-day campaign swing through California, made the announcement as part of a new repayment plan that offers a faster path to forgiveness, putting the spotlight on his debt cancellation efforts in his reelection campaign.
"Too many Americans are still saddled with unsustainable debt in exchange for a college degree," he said from a local library before he went on to campaign-related events. Loan relief helps the greater economy, he said, because "when people have a student debt relief, they buy homes. They start businesses, they contribute. They engage."
The administration began sending email notifications on Wednesday to some of the borrowers who will benefit from what the White House has called the SAVE program. The cancellations were originally scheduled to start in July, but last month the administration said it would be ready almost six months ahead of schedule, in February.
"Starting today, the first round of folks who are enrolled in our SAVE student loan repayment plan who have paid their loans for 10 years and borrowed $12,000 or less will have their debt cancelled," Biden posted on social media Wednesday. "That's 150,000 Americans and counting. And we're pushing to relieve more."
The first round of forgiveness from the SAVE plan will clear $1.2 billion in loans. The borrowers will get emails with a message from Biden notifying them that "all or a portion of your federal student loans will be forgiven because you qualify for early loan forgiveness under my Administration's SAVE Plan."
In his email to borrowers, Biden wrote he had heard from "countless people who have told me that relieving the burden of their student loan debt will allow them to support themselves and their families, buy their first home, start a small business, and move forward with life plans they've put on hold."
More than 7.5 million people have enrolled in the new repayment plan.
He said Wednesday that it was the kind of relief "that can be life-changing for individuals and their families."
"I'm proud to have been able to give borrowers like so many of you the relief you earned," he said, asking the crowd gathered for his speech how many had debt forgiven. Many raised their hands.
Borrowers are eligible for cancellation if they are enrolled in the SAVE plan, originally borrowed $12,000 or less to attend college and have made at least 10 years of payments. Those who took out more than $12,000 will be eligible for cancellation but on a longer timeline. For each $1,000 borrowed beyond $12,000, it adds an additional year of payments on top of 10 years.
The maximum repayment period is capped at 20 years for those with only undergraduate loans and 25 years for those with any graduate school loans.
Biden announced the new repayment plan last year alongside a separate plan to cancel up to $20,000 in loans for millions of Americans. The Supreme Court struck down his plan for widespread forgiveness, but the repayment plan has so far escaped that level of legal scrutiny. Unlike his proposal for mass cancellation — which had never been done before — the repayment plan is a twist on existing income-based plans created by Congress more than a decade ago.
Biden said he remained steadfast in his commitment to "fix our broken student loan system," working around the court's ruling to find other ways to get it done.
This College Student’s Acceptance Letter Came With a Marching Band
Alejandro Marroquin, 17, was surprised one morning by a full marching band outside his home, carrying a letter admitting him to the University of Maryland. Read the story from Emily Davies of The Washington Post. (January 2024)