The Bravery of Women

By Meredith Camel

The Bravery of Women

By Meredith Camel
Women’s Commission’s 47th annual breakfast honors those who stand up to make a difference for women at the U.

“Are you brave?” It was an unexpected question Carolina Perticari, immediate past president of the University of Miami Women’s Commission, posed as she and current president Christina WooChing kicked off the organization’s 47th annual breakfast on Tuesday, March 20.

“If you are brave, stand up,” Perticari continued. “Remain standing if someone has ever been brave for you…and if that person was a woman.”

The Women’s Commission, founded in 1971 to foster awareness of and resources for women’s needs and interests, has always celebrated the bravery of women, particularly in service to others. Each year at the breakfast, the organization honors a UM employee and a student who have stood up and stepped beyond their daily roles to make the University a better place for women. It also invites an inspirational leader to deliver the keynote address.

This year, the Women’s Commission didn’t have to look far for its speaker. Jacqueline Travisano, the University’s executive vice president for business and finance and chief operating officer since June 2017, shared insights from the nearly 30-year journey that took her from Pittsburgh to New York City to South Florida—as she sought every opportunity for education and growth along the way.

“With each new position came more touchpoints through which I could have an impact,” Travisano said. “Looking back, now I see that all of my milestones were waypoints guiding me to the most satisfying opportunity of all—being here with all of you.”

Travisano, a mother of four and grandmother of two, “with one more on the way,” stressed the importance of “building a village” of people who ease life’s challenges and of always being your own best protagonist—“whether that means accepting help with your household, allowing yourself the freedom to make mistakes as a healthy part of learning, giving yourself a pep talk that you can set higher goals than those you just reached, or advocating in the workplace that your perspective is valuable and your voice needs to be heard.”

Following Travisano’s address, the Women’s Commission presented its 2018 May A. Brunson Award to Renee Dickens Callan, director of Multicultural Student Affairs, who has been an advocate for students at UM for more than 25 years. This year, while completing her doctoral degree and dissertation on ways to improve the college experience for black, female, first-generation students, she also spearheaded new programs to empower students of color to be leaders on campus and beyond.

The commission presented it 2018 Louis P. Mills Award to Brianna Hernandez, a senior political science and history major who fosters civic engagement as president of Get Out the Vote, serves as a workshops co-chair for the Whitely Women’s Leadership Symposium, highlights the contributions of women on campus as a writer for national media outlet Her Campus, and serves as a peer mentor through many other leadership roles.