Shades of Beauty celebrates Augustana women

Etta Brooks

The Shades of Beauty summit at Augustana College celebrates women’s diverse complexions and upholds that all shades are beautiful. This year, the summit operated on a hybrid model: an in-person ForHer social hour exclusive to Augustana students, a virtue CelebrateHer Party, and the EmpowerHer Experience section. 
“Rise and Shine” Is the theme for this year’s summit. According to Ashley Allen, assistant director of the office of student inclusion and diversity, the timing for this summit is right; this is women’s history month and we have a female vice president.  
“This is the year and era for women… I hope the message to our women here on campus is that anything you decide to do you can absolutely do it, especially now you should form power to do that” Allen said.
Allen intentionally invited speakers that reflect the purpose of the summit. They are women leaders and professional speakers from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds in whom students can envision themselves. For instance, Jasmine Babers is a black woman and founder of “Love Girls” magazine, and Daisy Moran is a first-generation Mexican who is the director of Two Rivers, YMCA. 
“Seeing women doing great things and listening to their message would empower Augustana women leaders and students to build confidence in their abilities,” Allen said.
Tia Fuhr, assistant director of student life is one of the organizers. 
“While one of the main goals of the summit is to recognize the beauty in every woman or female-identified person on Campus and help build their self-esteem,  it is also an opportunity for women to connect and learn from each other,” Fuhr said.
Fuhr, who also works as the director of Greek life, is utilizing the shades of beauty summit as an educational program for sororities.
“We usually try to do something educational for a fraternity and sororities every year on campus… so this event kind of turned into the sorority educational event,” Fuhr said.
Over 100 students registered for the summit. Students expressed the significance of the shades of beauty summit to them. 
“As a black woman, it is always good to be in a space where you are empowered, where you are celebrated, where you have other people motivating you to win and be better,” sophomore Marthalyn Zarwolo said.
“It brings together women from different backgrounds, experiences, and cultures, and we also get to learn from each other and have a great time,” senior Awurama Boafo said. 
Compounded by Allen’s passion to meet the needs of students, conference experiences, and passion for event planning, Allen came up with the idea of the Shades of Beauty summit and collaborated with Fuhr to have it established at Augustana College. 
“I looked at Augustana and I often try to figure out what’s missing or when I go other places and think, is there a possibility to bring that experience for our students?” Allen said.
The first summit happened in 2019 with over 200 participants from institutions across Augustana. Due to the pandemic, Shades of Beauty 2020 was canceled, but a few of the speakers video-recorded their presentations which were shared with the community. 
Allen and Fuhr look forward to having the summit next year with hopes that COVID-19 will be gone so the summit is entirely in person and open to students from local institutions. 
“My vision is for it to be as big as it can be but then ultimately if it doesn’t get bigger or anything like that, just whoever comes to these conferences have a great experience and want to come back year after year,” Allen said.