**DISCLAIMER: THIS WAS ORIGINALLY AN ASSIGNMENT I WROTE FOR CLASS AS 4955**

 Women’s empowerment is becoming increasingly evident, especially during the daily struggles of college life. Many women will often feel stressed, overwhelmed, and confused during their post-secondary school years. Rachel Castillo, a Junior at SUNY Old Westbury, understands the importance of female-to-female motivation.

Castillo is currently an American Studies major with a minor in Women’s Studies. Aside from her position on Hall 2’s Residence Hall Council, Castillo is the Public Relations Chairwoman on SUNY Old Westbury’s Women in Progress (WIP) executive board.

Similar to their counterpart organization, Men in Progress, Women in Progress aims to foster positive relationships in college, exclusively among female students.

“The hope is that in this time of growth, we will build strong bonds, rooted in sisterhood, that give us the support and encouragement we need to succeed.”

Castillo has moved up the ladder of WIP fairly quick. She began as a general assembly member in Fall 2016. However, after months of hard work and dedication to her team, she decided to take on the E-Board position.

“One of the great things about an E-Board is the fact that no one member gets overwhelmed. We have a great president who delegates tasks effectively so that we can balance schoolwork and our E-Board duties,” Castillo explains.

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants may sound similar to the bond that these ladies of WIP share, but shockingly, their bond is much deeper than a feel-good film.

“What made me want to join Women in Progress was the idea of sisterhood,” Castillo recalls. “I loved how the club realized the need to foster growth during this important time and how it was uniquely geared towards women’s success. They had me hooked the very first day!” she says.

The Public Relations Chairwoman has also adapted essential organizational skills to keep her work in order.

“I have begun using a weekly/monthly planner. All the girls on the E-Board have one and it helps tremendously,” Castillo mentions.

Although many commuters are members of WIP, Castillo states that her most beneficial factor to her involvement with the club is living on-campus.

“I believe living on campus definitely helps my involvement in WIP, but don’t shy away from joining if you are a commuter,” Castillo mentions. “Our president is now a commuter and though it may require a little more planning, it’s not something that can’t be done.”

Many collegiate women struggle to find a “safe space” to let their thoughts run freely and complete schoolwork. Luckily, Women in Progress provides a setting for all those needs, plus much more.

“We want to create a space where you can bring your concerns, seek help with schoolwork, find great friends, and also just relax and have fun at our programs,” Castillo states.

Women in Progress is open to all ladies seeking a club to simply be themselves. They encourage trans and non-binary individuals to join and attend any future meetings. She also adds that members can come and go as they please, without worry of meeting a quota.

Some women in college are uncertain as to where their path will lead them after. Castillo too can relate to those still exploring their options but knows she wants to raise a beautiful family of her own in the future.

“I’m still unsure about what would constitute a dream job, but one job that I would very much enjoy would be a mom,” she explains. “This world needs smart, strong, compassionate humans and I look at motherhood like one of the most admirable careers that give back to humanity.”

Castillo’s biggest desire is for women to never give up on themselves and always focus on their goals and dreams.

“My advice to women in our society today is keep working to better yourself. Your goals and aspirations are valid and you can make them a reality if you never give up,” she explains. “There may be unique obstacles in our lives, but never let that stop you. Take care of yourself because you are the only person who is going to carry you across that finish line.”

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