Bringing Women Together: Celebrating the Multi-generational Relationships of our Students and their Families

We in parent and family programming are often collaboration experts as inherent in our roles we serve to connect our families to the institution in a variety of ways. These partnerships can help to maintain current relationships or create new ones that involve our families and their students in new ways. Our event, Bringing Women Together, was hosted as part of Women’s History Month at the University of Memphis. It was a collaborative partnership with the Parent and Family Services office and the Student Leadership and Involvement office as a celebration of the multi-generational relationships of our students and their families. To celebrate all of the generations at our institution, Lindsey Bray and Rachel Koch of the Parent and Family Services office partnered with Alison Brown, Coordinator for Student Outreach and Support, who oversees programming and services for our parenting students in the Student Leadership & Involvement office. Parent and Family Services invited our parents and their current students and Alison invited parenting students and their children to attend. At the free event, we hosted over 300 students and their family members for brunch and activities with two families in attendance having four generations present. 

Tables were set up for families to eat at, with each table showcasing a theme, event, or way that women have traditionally come together. Themes included education, book clubs, sports, cooking, salons, quilting, sewing, and gardening. Our themes were meant to inspire conversation and a reflection of how women have shared knowledge and community. In addition to the seating tables, we also had activities for attendees to participate in. Our activism table provided an opportunity for attendees to write a postcard to an elected official, while our creative table showcased coloring pages featuring prominent women with a short introduction. We also had a station for attendees to make their own fascinators to celebrate fashion and allow attendees to have a small takeaway for the event. Our programming for the event included Dr. Cookie Woolner, Assistant Professor of History, who provided attendees with a historical perspective of three prominent mothers and daughters and their place in history. 

Our development and presentation of the event was two-fold. First, we wanted to provide a free event to celebrate women’s relationships as part of Women’s History Month. In our brainstorming we saw the synergy of our work with parents of current students and the work of our colleague working with parenting students and thought this was the perfect opportunity to bring the groups together to celebrate female relationships. Often our parenting students are unable to be involved and engaged in traditional on campus activities due to their other responsibilities and if they are involved, they don’t often get to share them with their families, particularly their children. This event and partnership served to alleviate this by providing an opportunity for parenting students to bring their daughters to campus to celebrate their family and their relationships. We purposefully choose topics that could be related to various age groups and have activities that the whole family could enjoy, while still incorporating a learning aspect through our programming and activities.

According to our post survey, 90% indicated that it created a deeper connection with the University of Memphis. A survey respondent said, “Thank you so much for hosting this event! It was a true joy to be able to spend this time with my daughter and celebrate Women’s History Month together. I especially enjoyed speaking with the other families at our table. It was great to see how many generations of families attended. I hope you host this again next year!”  From a parenting student, “What a great event! I love that I had an opportunity to bring my whole family and share a part of my life at UofM with them. I don’t get to do that often and it is really appreciated.” 

As a result of this successful partnership, Parent & Family Services has continued to work with and incorporate our parenting students in our events. Due to the synergy of the populations in regard to timing of events, we are encouraged to continue these efforts for the foreseeable future to help meet the needs of all of our students and their families.  

As we look to ensuring that our programming and events are meeting the needs of our parents and their students, this collaboration has expanded our vision in the additional students and families we can impact and serve while continuing our mission to serve parents and families. We look forward to our future collaborations and seeing how we can continue to serve our campus community.  

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