Dr. Grays works to provide opportunities for informal mentorship for women in the College of Natural Resources. Events are done every semester that cultivate students developing connections with one another and faculty/staff. Each initiative has a social component as well as community service or professional development. Community service focuses on issues related to women such as domestic violence, breast cancer, ovarian cancer, etc. The disciplines that students go into after they graduate are underrepresented with women. Therefore, this direction of having programs focused on women’s success allows relationships to form and self-efficacy to be enhanced going into their fields.
Dr. Grays is intentional about having initiatives in all of the departments. Here is an example of her activities:
- Women in Paper Science Engineering: partnered with department recruiter to provide support system for women in program/major (women underrepresented in engineering), offered professional development, social support, and community service. This past fall our community service was to host girls from the Wake Young Women’s Leadership Academy (near campus) and expose them to PSE as a major but also help inform them of what is needed to enter the STEM field.
- Women in PGA Professional Golf Management: partnered with WPGM student organization to increase women in the major, co-sponsored the Let’s Hear it for the Girls Golf Conference for 3 years (this is an all-women’s conference to provide professional development and networking for women majoring in PGA PGM. Invited women (few in number) from all 17 institutions with PGA PGM programs.)
- Helped with recruitment efforts for women in this program: attend WPGM meetings to nurture and continue a relationship with women. Dr. Grays also assisted in coordination of WPGM 2013 and 2014 retreat.
- Womyn Rising to the Top (WRT1)
- Co-advise with PGA Professional Golf Management staff, Susan Colby.
- In partnership, started new student organization for womyn in Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Management – focus is to help empower womyn in a field dominated by men. Offer social, professional, and community service.
- Assist E-board with getting organization up and running. 2 of the members of the board have never held leadership positions in student organization. Provide mentorship for organization, but particularly the E-board.
Dr. Grays’ work galvanizes students and offers encouragement as well as a support system. They are able to identify with others that share parts of their collective identity and share their passion for their field. These initiatives have led to students gaining employment as well as new friendships as they develop in the college. The professional development that she offers is one on one and collective, thus students form relationships with her. She exposes the students to research to imbue the students with skills that contribute to their scholarship. Further, her work with these students encourages them to become leaders in other organizations across the college the university.
With the women gathering together they are able to address issues that are particular to women. Men are not a part of their gatherings, also they are not excluded. At times men stop by and learn and participate in the programs. Men are also educated on how they can play a part in enhancing equality among women. Women learn how internalized sexism hurts everyone and are encouraged to challenge it when they see it.