The first Resourceful Women Conference (RWC) was held in honor of Women’s History Month on March 22, 1997. The first organizers of the annual (now biennial) conference hoped to provide a venue for students to present undergraduate research and creative writing in an academically-rigorous but also collegial environment – an atmosphere designed to help students develop as “critical thinkers, effective communicators, and advocates for gender equality.”* Moreover, due to the generosity of writer Diane Herbruck (pseudonym Emma Bonta), a prize of up to $500 is available for the most outstanding student papers of the conference.
Given the multidisciplinary nature of women’s studies, the RWC brings together faculty, staff, and students from across disciplines to participate in a day-long discussion of women, gender, sexuality, and related topics. Because each student presenter is paired with a faculty mentor, the RWC provides an opportunity for students and faculty to work together in an academic setting outside the classroom. In addition, the conference also enables networking among members of the Aquinas College community and the students and faculty of other local institutions and colleges. Over the years, undergraduate students from Calvin College, Davenport University, Grand Valley State University, Hope College, Kalamazoo College, Michigan State University, Muskegon Community College, Oakland University, and the University of Pittsburgh have submitted and presented papers. Not only are students from other colleges invited to submit papers for presentation, but keynote speakers are frequently women from outside the immediate Aquinas community. Notable keynote speakers have included: