Entering Illinois State University as a transfer student was nerve-wracking for Emily Deppermann. She did not know many people on campus. Then, she stumbled on the Association for Women in Communications (AWC) and quickly made some of her best friends through the student group.
AWC at Illinois State is open to all students. The registered student organization (RSO) is the student chapter of a national organization that offers its members professional development, volunteer opportunities, networking connections, and social events.
“When I walked into my first AWC meeting, I felt very welcomed,” said Deppermann, a senior public relations major. “Having all of these members that are friendly, and strong, and intelligent is so comforting, and it makes you feel confident in yourself.”
Deppermann attended her first AWC meeting as a part of a class assignment but continued to go to the weekly meetings. She quickly moved up the ranks, becoming the website development chair and social media co-chair in fall 2019. In April, she was elected president.
“My favorite thing about AWC is that it’s an RSO that can provide you with tons of opportunities, but we are a relatively small organization,” said Deppermann. “Coming into a group that was a good size but not overwhelmingly large made it easy to connect with people and move up in leadership roles.”
During an AWC meeting featuring a panel of women in communications from the Bloomington-Normal area, Deppermann met the CEO and President of YWCA McLean County, Liz German. By connecting with German, Deppermann applied for an internship at YWCA, where she will serve as a public relations intern for the upcoming fall semester.
AWC collaborates with the School of Communication faculty, professionals in Bloomington-Normal, and other RSOs to provide fun and informative weekly meetings. In past meetings, members created LinkedIn profiles with Career Services Advisor Mark Fauble, learned basic sign language from the Deaf Redbirds Association (DRA), and viewed a bystander empowerment training from Health Promotion and Wellness.
AWC members also participate in professional social events and service opportunities in order to build strong connections and develop their leadership skills for their careers. The chapter participates in the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital fundraiser Up ’til Dawn and Special Olympics Illinois’ Polar Plunge, and annually co-hosts a Mocktail Hour event with the Student Alumni Council.
Deppermann plans to bring in new guest speakers for meetings and incorporate more social events in order for incoming and current members to become more involved.
“One of the greatest things that can come from being in an RSO is the connections you make with your peers both personally and professionally,” says Deppermann. “I really want to help our members connect so we can all get to know each other more.”
Director of Alumni Engagement Stephanie Duquenne ’04, M.S. ’15, serves as AWC’s advisor. She was involved in AWC during her time as an undergraduate student. After checking out a few different RSOs and feeling lost within each group, Duquenne joined AWC and immediately felt that she had finally found her place. After graduation, Duquenne joined the AWC Bloomington-Normal Professional Chapter where she serves as president.
“The opportunities and the friendships that I’ve made keep me involved,” says Duquenne. “I really respect the women in this organization and I want to make sure that this organization is successful.”
Duquenne’s role as a faculty advisor allows her to mentor the AWC members as she helps with guidance, opening up doors for the members, and being a prominent resource.
AWC provides a welcoming and safe environment that allows its members to gain leadership experience. With multiple executive board positions currently open, there are plenty of opportunities for students to acquire leadership experience. And who knows, you might even meet your best friends there!
Explore more opportunities to get involved at RedbirdLife.IllinoisState.edu.
Maggie McReynolds ’20 interns with University Marketing and Communications and was a member of AWC at Illinois State.