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The River Hawks are Hosting their Annual Women’s Mentoring and Networking Night

Just before the 2024 National Girls and Women in Sports Day, UMass Lowell Athletics organized its fifth annual River Hawk to River Hawk Women’s Mentoring and Networking Night at Moloney Hall in University Crossing on February 5.

“River Hawk to River Hawk is a cornerstone of our Student-Athlete Development Program,” stated Alison Quandt Westgate, Associate Athletic Director for Academics & Student Services. “It’s truly inspiring to witness our amazing alumnae come back to campus and generously offer their time to our current student-athletes. It provides an invaluable resource for our current student-athletes as they navigate their experience at UMass Lowell and contemplate their future beyond graduation.”

Since its inception, the Women’s Mentoring and Networking Night has aimed to link current River Hawks with accomplished former student-athletes, enabling them to exchange advice and personal experiences across various professions and post-graduate paths. This year’s event welcomed 22 alumnae, spanning from the 1980s to 2023, who engaged with over 200 current River Hawk student-athletes.

“I find it incredibly inspiring to have these female student-athlete alumnae return from diverse backgrounds to share insights into their career journeys, life beyond athletics, and their current pursuits,” remarked Shataeya Smith, a graduate student in UMass Lowell’s track & field program.

Having attended the event three times before, Smith highlighted her main takeaway from this year’s gathering as the impactful words shared by the closing speaker. For the first time in its history, River Hawk to River Hawk featured a keynote address delivered by Nicole Kalil, a women’s empowerment speaker.

“The idea that confidence is a decision rather than just a feeling really resonated with me,” Smith remarked. “Believing in myself, recognizing that I’ve taken the necessary steps to prepare for my career path, and not allowing doubts from others to sway my decisions because I’m pursuing my own purpose, stood out to me.”

Reflecting on the evening, Felicia Korte ’20, a former member of the River Hawk women’s basketball team and now serving as the Assistant Director of Fitness and Competitive Sports at Bentley University, shared her delight at attending the event as an alumna for the first time after previously experiencing it as a student-athlete.

“Working in athletics now, it was a wonderful opportunity to reconnect with those who have played a significant role in shaping who I am today,” Korte remarked. “I also found it fulfilling to share some insights with the current athletes.”

Encouraging the student-athletes she interacted with, Korte emphasized the importance of confidently defining their character and fostering personal growth off the field during these formative years.

“This is the time to cultivate resilience and strength of character,” Korte emphasized. “The lessons learned as a student-athlete extend far beyond the playing field and become invaluable assets in both your professional and personal life. Embrace adversity as an opportunity to grow, and remember that the skills you develop now will serve you well in the future.”

Janelle Clarkson ’14, a former member of the cross country/track & field program at UMass Lowell and currently serving as an investigator for the Disabled Persons Protection Commission, shared her insights and advice with current student-athletes.

“The most important advice I can offer is to embrace vulnerability and curiosity,” Clarkson emphasized. “Don’t hesitate to seek clarification and ask questions. Every interview, regardless of the outcome, is an opportunity for growth and learning. View setbacks as stepping stones to success, not as defeats.”

Clarkson also reflected on the remarkable growth and transformation of the campus since her tenure at UMass Lowell.

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