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As WILL* approaches its 40th anniversary in 2020, program director Holly Blake and associate director Melissa Ooten have edited Audacious Voices: Profiles in Intersectional Feminism, a collection of graduates’ reflections. In one of them, Cammie Dunaway, W’84, one of the program’s original participants, explained WILL*’s influence on her personal growth:

“I grew up with a poster on the lavender walls of my girlhood bedroom of a soaring ballerina and the words, ‘If you can do it, you can become it.’ Even with that daily reminder and with two loving parents who placed a high value on education and experience, my world and my dreams were pretty predictable. ...

“A few months before I left for college, a postcard arrived that ultimately led me to reach for much bigger dreams. [UR] was starting a new program called WILL (Women Involved in Living and Learning). The card said it would encompass some classroom time, workshops, and enrichment opportunities. It emphasized that participants would learn more about themselves and issues that impact women’s lives. It promised an avenue to creating a sense of community with women on campus. ...

“There was a freedom in our WILL classes to ask the tough questions, to speak without censure, to share our fears and weaknesses as well as our strengths. I don’t know if it came from the skill of the professors, from only having women in the classroom, or from being together with the same group of students for four years. But it was there. And for me, it spilled over into my other classes as well. I went from being a girl who had done well but had not really stood out in high school to one who was taking challenging classes and making A’s. I was stepping into leadership positions. I was developing a view of myself as confident and capable that fuels me even now.”