The Women’s Center’s Support Groups Want To Hear Your Story

Bruna Vila Artigues, News Editor

The Ruthe Boyea Women’s Center at Central Connecticut has represented intersectionality, diversity and equity for years. The center has been running three support groups to help people feel safe to discuss and share their personal experiences.

While they aim to expand and include others on campus, such as Islamic women and various women of color, the center offers three focus groups: United Sisters, Latina Leadership Personal Development Group and “It Takes A Village.”

The United Sisters Group serves as a place for African American and Caribbean women to come together and feel like they have a seat at the table, as some of the Women’s Center employees have explained it.

“We encourage people to take risks, to come out, to be themselves, to know that we’re open, willing to actively listen, to hear [their] story,” Olawunmi Sodipo, a co-facilitator of the United Sisters, said. “This is a safe space and nobody’s judging you. No one’s thinking anything about you. We’re just here to support you and to love you.”

The groups discuss topics of race, gender, class, personal life, community and team bonding, including micro aggressions or mental illness within the black community.

The Latina Leadership Personal Development Group serves as a safe space for Latina women to also have open conversations, break barriers and raise awareness about issues Latinas face in society. They partner with counseling, wellness and host events, as well as bring mentors and alumni to their group.

The “It Takes A Village” group is a student-parent support group dedicated to help student-parents succeed during their years in college and build a sense of community to reiterate that they are not alone. The group helps to support them personally, academically and professionally, as well as provide childcare for its members.

Within the support groups, important topics are covered that people may often be afraid to talk openly about. The groups are a safe space and sanctuary for everyone to feel like their own personal story and experiences are validated and important.

“What is your story? What makes you beautiful? What makes you bold? What makes you raw?” Sodipo asked.

She explained that many people feel like they do not belong or fit into a certain box. But at the end of the day, there is no specific box or criteria an individual must be confined to.

“This is just being yourself,” Sodipo said.

For Sodipo, being a part of United Sisters is even more of an opportunity to branch out and to develop leadership and communication skills.

With the groups, individuals are encouraged to take risks, listen, connect with others and invite friends to join.Trinitee Williams, a co-facilitator of United Sisters, said often times most members are quiet at the beginning, a feeling she, herself, even felt while participating in at The Women’s Center.

Williams explained that she was quiet when she initially joined last year. However, running the support group this year has helped her to become more open and to motivate other people to speak up.

“By the end of the night, people tell personal stories and get really deep into their lives,” Williams said.

The United Sisters and Latina Leadership Personal Development Group meet weekly in room 215 of the Student Center at 5 p.m. on Wednesdays and 3 p.m. on Mondays. The Student Parent Support Group meet bi-weekly in the Sprague Carleton Room of the Student Center at 5 p.m. on Mondays.