Hoping to create a special opportunity for women of color “to be vulnerable,” Building Ourselves through Sisterhood and Service will host a summit on Nov. 8 and 9 to address mental health issues faced by women of color at Cornell.
The keynote speaker will be Elyse Fox, a mental health advocate living in New York City.
“We brainstormed for prominent figures who focus on mental health issues,” explained Dalia Mota ’21, co-publicity chair and a member of the planning committee. “This year we are having Elyse, who’s made it more acceptable to speak up about mental health struggles.”
Partnering with campus organizations such as Cornell Health, the Women of Color Coalition and Cornell Minds Matter, BOSS planned a weekend of bonding and learning through nine workshops and a keynote speaker event.
“I don’t think there are other opportunities on campus who focus on women of color with mental needs,” Amber Haywood ’21, chair of the Mental Health Committee, told The Sun. “This platform which allows women of color to be vulnerable with each other is really special.”
According to Haywood, BOSS’s Mental Health Summit has been held each year for over a decade. She attended her first summit as a freshman and recalled many personal takeaways.
Mota agreed with the impactfulness of the summit, saying that the 2018 “The Superwoman Complex” workshop “really spoke to” her. The “superwoman complex” refers to the phenomena of high-powered women in business having fewer connections and mentors than male counterparts.
The event took months of preparation and outreach, according to Haywood.
“We started planning the summit in April,” she told The Sun. “We did a lot of work in developing our curriculum and advertising the summit to not just the Cornell community, but also women of color from other colleges.”
In addition to hosting the annual Mental Health Summit, BOSS builds a supportive community for women of color through service events and a mentorship program with bonding activities.
“It’s given me a sisterhood and brought me out of my shell,” Mota said.
Haywood cited the mentor-mentee program as a source of strong personal connections.
“BOSS has developed me as a leader, as a sister, as someone who is more confident in themselves,” she told The Sun. “I really felt that I found my home on campus.”
Haywood said that she hopes participants in the upcoming summit are able to benefit from the forum it provides.
“I hope that this year’s attendees will walk away feeling heard and acknowledged,” she said.