UNF Women’s Center to Launch Genuinely U

women_rataj-5As the director of University of North Florida’s Women’s Center, Sheila Spivey has always been an advocate for promoting the growth, productivity and well-being of women in the University community. “We provide a variety of different activities and events for women AND men,” says Sheila. “It’s about celebrating the accomplishments of women and helping students truly embrace gender equity.”

Those activities and events are many—there were more than two dozen events last year—ranging from artistic celebrations such as the “Celebration of Women in the Arts”, to leadership discussions like the Center’s “In Roads to Influence” to events that create conversation—even controversial ones. “During our weekly Friday Lounge, we provide the University community with the opportunity to open dialogue on various topics, from current events to pop culture, from sex and relationships to school and life balance,” says Sheila. “We encourage women to be their authentic selves. To do this, we have created an environment where students learn to have a dialogue and respect that someone’s viewpoint may be different than their viewpoint.” Lately, those Friday afternoon discussions have been attended by more and more men. “We say gender issues, but actually we are talking about human issues,” states Sheila. “These issues impact all of us which is why we are seeing more men get involved.”

Soon, there will be a new initiative added to the Women’s Center list of programs—this one inspired by Generation W. “Every year I leave Generation W in awe,” says Sheila. “I am always thinking ‘This is amazing, we need to do something’”. And do something is exactly what Sheila has in mind. Earlier this summer, Sheila launched Genuinely U, a UNF version of Generation W. “I wanted to create a way to embrace the excitement of Generation W—bringing together women and men to focus on the idea of gender consciousness,” explains Sheila. “Without even thinking about it, how we look at the world is affected by our gender and this affects how we approach things such as personal development and impacting change in our community and world.”

Genuinely U will be an opportunity for women—and those who supprt them—to network and connect. “It is a way for us to introduce the entire university community to the ideals expressed during Generation W and better connect us with Generation WOW and Generation WORKS.”

Sheila is in the process of putting together the Genuinely U leadership team to discuss what they would like to accomplish with this initiative. “If anyone has created a type of movement like this, we would love to get their insight into what helped, including what type of activities and events were held,” says Sheila. If you would like to participate in the discussion, contact Sheila at sspivey@unf.edu.

This is a great example of how to truly “Imagine the Possible”—imagining what could be done and working towards making it a reality. “When you have an idea like this, bring people together to talk about it,” says Sheila. “This helps you to stop thinking about your limitations and be open to all the opportunities.”

We look forward to watching Genuinely U grow!