The Young Women’s Leadership Institute at Barnard College

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

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The Young Women’s Leadership Institute at Barnard College

In a world where opportunities for young women continue to expand, there’s a growing need for platforms that truly nurture and hone their leadership potential. At the intersection of history, empowerment, and education lies the Young Women’s Leadership Institute (YWLI) at Barnard College.

In this article, we will delve into the rich tapestry of YWLI’s offerings—from its rigorous curriculum, dedicated tracks, to the vibrant life on Barnard’s campus. Discover how this program transcends traditional education, fusing theory with real-world experiences, all while fostering a community of like-minded individuals.

Read on to uncover the magic of the institute and its commitment to shaping the leaders of tomorrow.

The History of Barnard College and Its Young Women’s Leadership Institute

Barnard College stands out as a beacon of women’s education. Located in the heart of New York City, this esteemed institution has a rich history, born from a vision that was truly fearless.

At the dawn of the 20th century, a bold idea took shape: to establish a rigorous college, dedicated to providing women an education on par with Columbia’s offering. Today, it’s recognized as one of the nation’s most selective academic institutions, with a mission rooted in empowering young women to passionately chase their dreams.

Facade of Barnard College

But Barnard’s commitment to shaping future leaders didn’t stop at its core academic programs. The Young Women’s Leadership Institute is a testament to this commitment. This program embraces the intricate relationship between gender and leadership, aiming to mold high schoolers into trailblazers of tomorrow.

Through YWLI, you’ll have the chance to delve deep into this complex relationship and come out with skills and confidence to stand tall in leadership roles. So, if you’re someone with boundless curiosity and a desire to lead, YWLI might just be the summer experience you’ve been looking for.

In a world that’s rapidly changing, institutions like Barnard College and initiatives like YWLI ensure that young women are not just keeping pace but leading the way. Consider this your invitation to join a legacy of empowered women and to carve out your own path in it.

Vision and Mission of YWLI

The Young Women’s Leadership Institute emerged as an answer to a pressing need in society. At the heart of its foundation lies a crucial belief: when young women are equipped with the right tools, they can transform not only their lives but also the world around them.

So, what drove the inception of YWLI? It’s simple. The pivotal years of adolescence and early adulthood are defining moments for individuals, especially young women. The choices made, the skills honed, and the confidence built during this time set the trajectory for one’s entire life.

Recognizing this, YWLI was designed to intervene at this crucial juncture, ensuring that young women are prepared for leadership roles and are self-assured in their capabilities.

YWLI’s empowerment approach is multifaceted. Firstly, the institute cultivates essential leadership skills, ensuring that participants can take the helm in various situations. Furthermore, YWLI instills a sense of self-confidence, ensuring that every young woman recognizes her worth and potential.

When young women rise together, challenging societal norms, they break barriers and create a wave of change. This wave not only benefits them but also reshapes the societal, economic, and political landscapes.

Imagine a world where every young woman knows her value, understands her potential, and is equipped to lead. This is the world YWLI envisions and strives to create. So, if you’re a young woman on the brink of making life-defining choices, remember that with the right guidance and support, like what YWLI offers, you can not only shape your destiny but also influence the world.

The Curriculum: Empowering Young Women Through Education

At the heart of the Young Women’s Leadership Institute lies a curriculum that isn’t just about learning from textbooks, but about embracing the vast world of experiences and insights that shape a leader. As you venture into this journey, you’ll be met with an array of courses tailored to cultivate a deep understanding of leadership and its dynamic relationship with gender.

What can you expect from the curriculum? For starters, it offers a myriad of subjects that dive into gender issues, societal change, and the very essence of leadership.

But it’s not just the academic rigor that sets the YWLI apart; it’s the harmonious blend of theoretical knowledge with real-world applications. Imagine discussions that push boundaries, debates that challenge norms, and hands-on projects that require you to apply learned concepts in real-life scenarios.

Young adults playing an instrument in a room.

The true magic of the YWLI curriculum is its emphasis on experiential learning. It recognizes that leadership isn’t just about knowing; it’s about doing. Whether it’s through group activities, workshops, or community engagements, you’ll be given ample opportunities to practice leadership, to make decisions, and to learn from both successes and setbacks.

And, the curriculum’s design? It’s ingeniously crafted to instill leadership qualities in every participant. The YWLI believes in fostering a sense of curiosity, passion, and readiness to take on challenges head-on. By exploring leadership through a feminist lens, you’re being empowered to lead with empathy, vision, and a deep-rooted understanding of societal nuances.

Distinct Tracks

At the Young Women’s Leadership Institute, you can choose from six distinct tracks, each offering its unique flavor and learning experience.

  1. STEMinist Track: Dive deep into STEM, exploring science, technology, engineering, and mathematics in captivating virtual field trips and projects. Moreover, address the existing gender inequalities in STEM and reshape the narrative.
  2. Writing and Literature Track: Find your writer’s voice where literary legends like Greta Gerwig and Jhumpa Lahiri once tread. Whether it’s essays, playwriting, or other forms, perfect your craft and discover how to get your work out into the world.
  3. Political Science and Economics Track: Delve into the dynamics of politics and economics, understanding their mutual impact and the role of gender in shaping policies.
  4. Urban Studies and Architecture Track: Unearth the histories of urban spaces and structures, exploring the essence of cities and their development.
  5. Art History Track: Navigate through the riveting world of art in the global hub of NYC. From museums to galleries, understand art’s evolution and dabble in everything from drawing to digital design.
  6. Sociology and Gender Studies Track: Examine gender in the broader context of race, class, and more, applying these concepts to historical human experiences in politics, culture, and economics.
  7. Dance Track: Engage in a holistic study of dance in one of the world’s dance capitals, exploring the myriad forms of dance present in NYC.

Leadership in Action Series

Apart from the tracks, every Tuesday and Wednesday, gear up for the Leadership in Action series. Here, you’ll collaborate with the Athena Center for Leadership team, refining your communication skills, and unraveling your leadership identity. Engaging in intimate group sessions, you’ll embark on a journey of self-discovery and narrate your unique leadership story.

So, as you stand on the threshold of this transformative journey, remember that the YWLI is more than just an institute. It’s a platform that encourages you to question, to learn, and most importantly, to lead with conviction.

Experiencing New York City: The Added Advantage

New York City, often dubbed as “The City That Never Sleeps,” isn’t just a bustling metropolis filled with towering skyscrapers and flashing lights. For you, a participant in the Young Women’s Leadership Institute, it serves as a sprawling canvas of endless opportunities, waiting to be explored.

Cultural Experiences

Imagine stepping out of your classroom and being instantly immersed in a melting pot of cultures. From the vibrant streets of Chinatown to the rhythmic beats of Harlem, New York City offers an unparalleled cultural experience.

A street in New York

Every corner you turn, every street you traverse, you’ll be met with a myriad of languages, cuisines, and traditions. This exposure not only broadens your horizons but also helps you develop a more global perspective, understanding, and respect for diverse cultures.

Entrepreneurial Prospects

But that’s not all. NYC, with its thriving business scene, serves as an entrepreneurial hub. Attending networking events, visiting startup incubators, or simply walking down Wall Street can give you a glimpse into the world of entrepreneurship and innovation.

In a city where dreams are transformed into realities every day, you’ll witness firsthand the skills and determination required to turn an idea into a successful venture.

Leadership Opportunities

Leadership opportunities? They’re aplenty. Participate in seminars, join discussions, or attend workshops conducted by world-renowned leaders right in the heart of the city. From non-profit organizations striving for social change to corporate giants leading industries, NYC offers a plethora of opportunities to witness leadership in action and to learn from the best.

In essence, being in New York City during your program doesn’t just confine you to the four walls of a classroom. Instead, it throws open the doors to a world filled with diverse cultural experiences, entrepreneurial ventures, and countless leadership opportunities.

So, as you embark on this journey, remember to make the most of what the city offers. After all, in NYC, every day is a new adventure, and every experience, a lesson in itself.

Life at Barnard During the Institute: A Glimpse into Campus Life

Being a participant in the Young Women’s Leadership Institute at Barnard College not only offers you a robust academic experience but also invites you into the heart of a vibrant campus life. Let’s dive into what awaits you during your time at Barnard.

Residential Life

The residential life at Barnard provides a unique blend of security and independence, ensuring you feel right at home while also granting you the freedom to explore and grow. Comfortable living quarters, state-of-the-art facilities, and shared spaces where you can relax and bond with fellow participants are all part and parcel of the residential experience.

But the buildings and rooms are just the beginning. At the core of Barnard’s residential life lies a profound sense of community. Here, you’ll forge connections and friendships that could last a lifetime, shaped by shared experiences, discussions, and a mutual passion for learning.

Events and Activities

Beyond the academic rigors, Barnard’s campus buzzes with a plethora of events and workshops. You might find yourself participating in a leadership workshop designed by Barnard’s Global Symposium Student Fellows, which in the past, saw over 75 students from various high schools coming together for shared learning.

Or perhaps, you could be attending a seminar celebrating the enduring impact of Barnard’s Pre-College Program, which has consistently reimagined its approach to provide immersive academic experiences for students.

The extracurricular activities available are as diverse as they are enriching. From art clubs to debate teams, from dance troupes to environmental groups, there’s something for every passion and interest. These activities not only provide a much-needed respite from academic pursuits but also offer platforms to hone skills, discover new hobbies, and meet like-minded individuals.

3 female student hanging out at the

In conclusion, life at Barnard during the Institute isn’t just about hitting the books. It’s about immersing yourself in a rich tapestry of experiences, both within and outside the classroom. It’s about being part of a community that values your individuality, encourages your ambitions, and celebrates your achievements.

Applying to the Young Women’s Leadership Institute: Tips and Tricks

Applying to the Young Women’s Leadership Institute at Barnard College is a significant step toward a transformative educational experience. Let’s navigate this journey together with some helpful tips and tricks to ensure a smooth application process:

  1. Start Early: Begin your application process well in advance. This will give you ample time to gather all required documents, brainstorm for your essays, and approach people for recommendations.
  2. Understand the Requirements: Familiarize yourself with the specific requirements of the institute. Typically, institutions like Barnard would require transcripts, essays, and recommendation letters. Ensure you have a clear checklist.
  3. Craft a Compelling Essay: Your essay is your voice in the application. Start with brainstorming exercises. Reflect on your personal experiences and aspirations. Ensure your essay communicates why you are a perfect fit for the institute and how you’ll contribute to the community. For inspiration, you might want to review some winning college essay examples.
  4. Recommendations Matter: Choose recommenders who know you well and can vouch for your dedication, leadership qualities, and passion. Provide them with enough time and a brief on what the institute values.
  5. Showcase Diversity: If you come from a diverse background or have unique experiences that have shaped you, highlight them. Diversity essays can provide insights on how your background and experiences would enrich the program.
  6. Prepare for an Interview: While not always a requirement, be prepared for a potential interview. Reflect on your achievements, challenges faced, and why you believe the institute aligns with your goals.
  7. Proofread and Review: Before submitting, review your application for any errors. Perhaps, ask a mentor or teacher to give feedback on your essay and application.

What the Admissions Committee Looks For

The admissions team typically looks for students who align with the institute’s values and mission. They value curiosity, passion, and a readiness to develop leadership skills. It’s not just about academic achievements but about the holistic development of an individual and her potential to make a difference.

In conclusion, while the application process might seem daunting, remember it’s your opportunity to showcase your potential and passion. Stay authentic, diligent, and proactive, and you’ll find the process not only manageable but also deeply introspective.

Why Choose the Barnard College Young Women’s Leadership Institute?

Choosing a summer program is no small feat, especially with a plethora of options available. Yet, the Barnard College Young Women’s Leadership Institute stands out for a myriad of compelling reasons.

Firstly, YWLI delves deep into the intricate relationship between gender and leadership. By focusing on these interconnections, participants gain a nuanced understanding that prepares them to navigate and lead in diverse spaces. Moreover, the program is tailor-made for the curious, passionate, and those poised to become trailblazers. This ensures a cohort of motivated peers, fostering collaborative learning and networking.

The institute is not just about learning; it’s about experiencing. Nestled in the heart of New York City, students get to immerse themselves in a vibrant urban setting while benefiting from the intimate environment of a renowned women’s college. Such a dynamic juxtaposition offers a balance of community and exploration.

Furthermore, transitioning to college is a transformative period, and YWLI provides the tools, skills, and insights to ensure that transition is smooth, empowering, and enlightening.

Overall, if you’re on the cusp of your college journey and seek an experience that marries leadership, gender studies, and personal growth, look no further. Embrace this opportunity. Let Barnard’s Young Women’s Leadership Institute be your stepping stone to a future of informed leadership and impactful change.

Dive into this transformative experience and shape not just your future, but the future of communities you will touch.

a female med student looking at the camera smiling

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