Women of the Future panel at Bagnani Hall

Bagnani Hall was filled with diverse women of all ages. The integrity of a Trent education hung in the atmosphere and permeated the conversation, making this reporter feel connected to these inspiring women. It caused one to ponder about the future, how one might progress from sitting in Bata Library to where these accomplished women sat before us.

Julie Davis, Vice President, External Relations and Advancement at Trent University, introduced Carol Gray, a director of Amex Bank of Canada and a member of the Trent University Board of Governors with a BA in History and Political Studies from Trent. After giving a brief summary of the speakers for that evening, Gray brought on Rhonda Barnett, who has a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics to talk about her experiences in the workplace. “I have always lived in a man’s world.” She elaborated on how the field of mathematics is dominated by men. Barnett described success as constant movement, and her own experience saw her transition from a shy, awkward nerdy mathematician to a confident public speaker. She cites  book called The Road Less Traveled, which talks about discipline, as having helped her on her journey. The first one in her family to receive a university degree, she discussed how important it is to seize opportunities, and the difficulties in acquiring the requisite discipline to achieve one’s goals. “Follow your gut! Go out there and start connecting the dots,” was the message she aimed for young women to take away from her talk. She encouraged people to get involved and create shared experiences for their resumes instead of handing in obscure lines on a piece of paper.

Photos by Samantha Moss

“Ask, get help, give & get”

Mary Bean, BA Sociology from Trent, touched on resume building and encouraged the audience to stay true to
themselves. Bean had to start almost all over again at the age of 35 when she was unable to find any jobs. She started her journey at Queen’s University but later dropped out. When no other school took her in because she was fired from her first job in 3 months, Trent accepted her. She said one should always reconsider their university choice. According to Bean, success is achieved by getting closer to what drives you the most. She strongly advised everyone in the room to not be afraid of connecting with people. Evoking a karmic sentiment, she stated that what you give will come back to you.

“Don’t be afraid of trying”

Killulark “Laura” Arngna’naaq, BBA from Trent University said she has been quite lucky for having very strong female figures in her life. Growing up, she was influenced and supported by her single mother and grandmother. When she entered Trent in 2007, she aimed to open her own tattoo and piercing shop. Though she was unsuccessful in that goal, Arngna’naaq learned a great value in life. She underlined that you should never be afraid of trying different paths, and stated that everything finds its way of working out. Arngna’naaq is currently working at Habitat for Humanity GTA.

Challenging yourself

Lastly, Professor Nadine Changfoot, Chair of Political Studies at Trent took the floor and playfully said she wished she attended a panel like this when she was in her 20s. Changfoot described herself as someone who loves challenges and to being dared to push herself past her limits. Her response to dares is always “I can do it”. She once studied how to play the piano until she injured herself to achieve what her teacher said she could not. She describes perfectionism as her goal in anything. Learning from her mistakes, she advised everyone to do their best. She said she had to try out things and challenge herself until she found the right place for herself. She now works for Community Building at Trent.

The Women of the Future panel were asked why it was important to take part in their communities. The panel responses varied: “Peterborough is such a giving community. It helps you build your future. Always try new things out, volunteer, try your skills and find your success through the community,” was Barrett’s answer.

Bean stated, “What am I going to give to the community? This is okay to ask yourself. It is about giving what you can in the moment and then making good use of the community opportunities.”

“The impact of the community on its members is something that shouldn’t be missed as well,” added Arngna’naaq.

Changfoot commented, “For me, community is how we grow and provide for ourselves and others. Keep working for it and you will achieve what you tried for at the end.”