A Seat at the Table: Brooke LePage Celebrates & Builds on 50 years of Coeducation at Trin

A Seat at the Table: Brooke LePage Celebrates & Builds on 50 years of Coeducation at Trin

AXO national convention in Austin, Texas. 2018

Over the short time I’ve gotten to know Brooke LePage ’19, I’ve seen her serendipitous smile shine, her personality promulgate positivity, and her mind mitigate any malevolence. Brooke is passionate about women’s rights, education, and advocacy, even working as part of a student group focused on addressing sexual misconduct, which looked at the college’s Title IX policies and made sure that they were accessible for ALL students. Brooke is a busy woman, involved with many organizations and playing integral roles in establishing or improving them.

NEED TO KNOWS:
Born in Minnesota. Lives in Franklin, MA 
MAJOR ~ Public Policy major with concentrations in education policy and law & society
SOCIETIES/ORGANIZATIONS ~ Apha Chi Omega, SoMA (Social Media Associate)

I like to be busy and the more that I got involved at Trin, the more that I felt a part of the overall community and like I was making a positive impact on that community.

Brooke’s conviction to lead and get involved comes from her constant motivation to seek out solutions to the problems she encounters.

The times I’ve been inspired to get involved and try and make experiences better or easier for other students have occurred after seeing or experiencing things that I didn’t like, or had a hard time going through myself.

Hartford Women’s March. 2019

Brooke has always tried to stand up for what’s right, but you cannot fight every battle alone. I believe that college is supposed to teach us how to intellectually engage with the world around us by allowing us to use the skills we’ve learned to stand for what we believe in. Without the support of our institution, we will likely fall short of our goals. So, I asked Brooke: Do you feel like Trinity has supported you in standing for what’s right and what you believe in?

Definitely, in a lot of different ways too. Professor Adrienne Fulco, Associate Professor of Legal and Policy Studies at Trin, has been one of my greatest inspirations and biggest advocates on campus. She’s instilled a lot of important values in me. Her support and guidance alone have really allowed and encouraged me to pursue the types of study that I’m passionate about. I think my thesis is a great contribution to this point. When I was a part of the “Addressing Sexual Misconduct” student group working to address sexual misconduct at higher ed institutions, I really felt like I was being supported by the institution and really making an impact on Trinity’s campus. And I felt the same way when I was chapter president of Alpha Chi Omega.

And she’s right! Brooke’s thesis is powerful and a great contribution to what she strove to do at Trinity. So what was her thesis work about?

My thesis on Title IX in the age of President Trump was inspired by a course I took with Professor Fulco my sophomore year entitled “Title IX: Changing Campus Culture.” The course really opened my eyes to gender inequity in higher education and the role that sexual assault and sexual harassment can sometimes play in that space. It was a really rewarding project for me, not only because it was a capstone of all of the skills that I’ve learned in my public policy courses, but also it was a huge passion project for me. I think if you read the piece, it’s clear that I tried to be unbiased in my methodology portions, but I think you can see my feminist undertones throughout the project. I consider it my little way of contributing to literature and trying to empower women. So, it was a super rewarding project for me.

TENACITY

Currently, Trinity is celebrating 50 years of coeducation, and while Brooke notes that many of her predecessors did not always have the opportunities to advocate for women’s rights in the same way that she does today, she feels fortunate and excited to see all the progress over the years and moving forward.

We have a lot of women in leadership roles on campus, and we have a female president of the college. Those things are really important. But, I think there are definitely ways that the college can continue to improve gender equity on campus in the future. For example, working to ensure that more programs are inclusive, and that there are balanced representation of genders in classes and on campus overall.

A recent accomplishment I can think of was the addition of three new sororities on campus. Prior to that, there were only two sororities on campus and a lot more fraternities. It’s really important for there to be outlets, greek-based or otherwise, where women can gather together and empower one another.

PATIENCE

As a graduating senior, I wanted Brooke to reflect a little. I asked her If she could go back in time to tell high school Brooke something, what advice would she give herself for college?

I think I would tell myself that everything is going to work out. All of the internships I’ve had, the opportunities I’ve applied for, in one way or another, they’ve all worked out in the end. I think I would tell myself not to stress about it because things will happen the way they are supposed to happen at the time they’re supposed to happen.

Although hindsight, that kind of patience for the process and trusting in your work ethic, passions, and ability to grow are paramount in easing your worries about the future.

AUTHENTICITY

Brooke also went on to talk about the importance of authenticity.

I think something I didn’t know when I was a freshman but have learned since being at Trinity, is just how important it is to be yourself. I would want to tell my freshman self to just stay true to herself and always be real.

It’s good to be different. It’s cool to be different and important to just be yourself.
And that’s exactly what Brooke has done over the past four years.
The lessons Brooke learned while being herself at Trinity have helped her to get the most out of her college experience. Learning how to form ideas, testing them intellectually, and taking risks.

REMINISCE

Reflecting on her favorite moments as a member of Alpha Chi Omega, Brooke recalls that the little things can make a big impact.

There’s so many opportunities on campus for anyone to support and empower women, whether it be big or small.

And I definitely agree. It’s the small things that add up for EVERYONE. Sometimes it’s as simple as saying “hi” to somebody—asking them how their day was.

I think people forget that a lot. I think people assume that they’re not doing enough if they’re not making these big monumental changes, but people forget how much of an impact individual interactions have on other people, and just how much their presence alone can positively benefit the people around them.

LOOKING FORWARD

Brooke is now more focused on growth than ever before. She knows she’s working her way to grabbing herself a “seat at the table,” so to speak. So I asked her: As someone that’s graduating this week, how do you feel looking forward to life after Trin? How will you continue to empower yourself as a female in your industry?

I think something that I’ve been reminding myself is that your first job isn’t necessarily your last or your greatest job—it’s the first step on your journey. That doesn’t mean that your first job is unimportant, but it just means that it’s one of the many steps that you’re going to be taking to achieve your goals and your dreams. All those steps matter.

One of the biggest critiques of millennials and our generation is that we’re too focused on trying to be the “number one” person that’s in charge, or that we always overlook the small things that matter.

I think there’s something to be said for appreciating the process, or for being happy and grateful for where you are and the steps that you’re taking towards achieving your goals—even if you’re not there yet.

Before wrapping up my interview, I really wanted to ask Brooke what her dream job looks like—hopefully getting her to dream without any boundaries.

I’ve learned that the policy areas that I really care about are education and women’s advocacy. So, basically, any opportunities that allow me to become an expert in one or both of those two policy areas, I’d be happy with.

I would REALLY love to be an expert on women’s advocacy or education policy in the White House. I envision myself as an advisor to a future president that I really believe in and feel honored to work for. All I’ve ever wanted to do is be an advocate for people who can’t necessarily advocate for themselves, and I’d love to make positive changes and contributions to society overall.

You can hear what else Brooke has to say, and the wisdom she’ll leave with the Class of 2019 during her student speech at Trinity’s 193rd Commencement ceremony on May 19, 2019. Be sure to follow along with commencement festivities on social media @TrinityCollege and use #TrinGrad to join the conversation.

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