Fresh off the heels of 2018, dubbed by many as another “year of the woman,” students in USC OWN IT don’t plan on slowing that momentum down. The USC OWN IT Summit, which aims to “inspire the next generation of women,” will come to Bovard Auditorium with an expected 1,000 guests for its third year on Jan. 12.
The event is entirely student-run and will feature keynote speaker Laverne Cox and 150 others. According to the OWN IT website, the organization helps connect the students of USC to inspiring female leaders with their annual event.
“Almost all of our speakers come free of charge, so they have to really want to be a part of this event,” said executive director Erica Wenger, a senior majoring in business administration.
The eight-hour event will give attendees the opportunity to meet and network with recruiters and hear from renowned public figures from different fields.
“We’re being a lot more conscious of who we’re inviting to speak,” Wenger said. “The mainstage speakers are going to be the ones that we all know their names, they’ve made massive progress in their specific industry or for one department in general.”
All of those who attend will be able to hear from mainstage speakers and an array of breakout panelists, including Lara Parker, the senior editor of Buzzfeed and Sheri Bonner, the CEO and president of Planned Parenthood Pasadena and San Gabriel Valley.
“Yes, [the speakers] were older than we were, but they made it relatable for people our age and girls in college,” said Stephanie Chang, a USC alumna who attended the event two years ago. “They made it really easy for USC college students to show up and get access to so many incredible women.”
The event will cover a variety of topics ranging from career development to maintaining one’s mental health.
“It’s a lot of what’s happening in the world right now,” Wenger said. “You want to be talking about just your career development, but also family relationships, right? What about romantic relationships and career?”
Guests will be able to attend discussions on these topics from sisters Erin Foster and Sara Foster, the heads of creatives for the dating app Bumble, as well as Jessica Jackley, the founder of the non-profit loan service Kiva, and her husband Reza Aslan, a prolific religious scholar and author.
Students who plan on attending the event also expressed the value of networking and meeting other students.
“OWN IT is an opportunity to meet women who are evening the playing field, not only the entrepreneurial field but also simply as leaders of the changing world,” said Angel Duan, a freshman majoring in business administration who plans on attending the event. “It’s not just the speakers that are doing that, it’s also the people who are going. These are the people who are going to be following into the speakers’ footsteps.”