Illinois State senior looks to take local book club to a national audience
Illinois State senior Michaela Spreier is bringing an initiative from her campus organization to a national audience.
The accounting major is the president of the Illinois State chapter of the Accounting & Finance Women’s Alliance (AFWA). Illinois State is one of three universities in the country with a campus chapter of this professional organization.
From the beginning, AFWA wanted to stand out from the crowd of business clubs on campus. The members started their own unique programming by offering courses designed to teach underclassmen about financial literacy.
The group’s next initiative caught the attention of the national organization. AFWA started its own book club, with members holding intermittent discussions on sections of the chosen book. Last spring the participants read How Remarkable Women Lead: The Breakthrough Model of Work and Life by Joanna Barsh.
In April, AFWA held its annual luncheon, where it was officially chartered into the national organization. Additionally, the club held its final discussion session on How Remarkable Women Lead. National leadership present at the luncheon were impressed by the book club, and tasked Spreier with developing a pilot program for nationwide use.
Spreier has once again chosen How Remarkable Women Lead, as she had already pulled together materials needed to drive the discussion. The trial is limited to 30 AFWA members, along with AFWA leadership. The discussions are being held during three web conferences spanning the fall semester. Additionally, Illinois State AFWA produced a series of webinars available on YouTube that cover portions of the book. AFWA is looking to duplicate this model and provide tools for other branches nationwide to start their own book clubs.
Spreier credited the efforts of Department of Accounting Chair Deborah Seifert and Assistant Professor Madeline Trimble with helping the club to make its goals a reality.
“This experience helped me realize how caring and helpful the faculty is here at Illinois State,” Spreier said. “We came up with this idea and it required a lot of support. It really opened my eyes to how amazing of an institution Illinois State is.”
Spreier drove the project but is quick to thank other members of the club and the leaders who came before her.
“AFWA founders Emily Vondriska, Alex Schwartz, Hayley Harroun, and Sophie Wan were so important in getting us to where we are,” Spreier said. “They helped with difficult projects such as this and helped recruit a group of amazing students.”
This experience has helped Spreier build her network and better prepare her for life post-graduation.
“Thanks to all of these amazing people at Illinois State, I have met people across the country who are going to help me get where I want to go,” she said. “I couldn’t be more grateful.”