Women empowering women

Speaker series helps Johnston Hall residents connect with leaders across campus.

Katryna Sardis speaks with Johnston Hall residents
Katryna Sardis speaks with residents at Johnston Hall. “If I can help someone feel less alone, then that’s what I want to do,” she said. Kerri Pennix/University of Missouri

By Maddy Stout

Residential Life inaugurated a new series of events Oct. 12 with the first installment of Eva J Speaks Out, a series of informal talks between Johnston Hall residents and women leaders from across campus.

“The end goal of the program would be for our residents to feel equipped and poured into by a staff or faculty member on campus,” Johnston Hall coordinator Amanda Oliver said.

By having the speakers share their success and challenges in college and their careers, Oliver hopes the residents will feel supported and better connected to the Mizzou community.

The events – and Johnston Hall – take their name from Eva Johnston, the first female professor of classics at Mizzou and MU’s first dean of women. The talks are intended to connect Johnston residents to different resources across campus.

“I think that’s a really sweet opportunity to empower them to grow into those campus leaders that we hope they will become in the next couple years while they’re here at Mizzou,” Oliver said.

The guest speaker at the Oct. 12 event was Katryna Sardis, assistant director for student diversity initiatives in the Relationship & Sexual Violence Prevention (RSVP) Center.

Sardis and the Johnston Hall women discussed a wide range of topics, including work-life balance, confidence in the workplace, sexual assault, mental health, and the importance of prioritizing happiness.

“It’s important to share our stories, because if we are waiting for someone to share ours, we are going to be waiting a long time,” Sardis said. “Nobody likes to feel alone – I know I don’t. If I can help someone feel less alone, then that’s what I want to do.”

Many of the women walked away with more information about the RSVP Center and knowing Sardis on a more personal level.

“When I first came here, I felt like Mizzou was a big campus, and I didn’t know where things were,” junior Shaylla Sanders said. “It’s just always nice to know all the resources on campus, and the best way to get help.”

Student Accountability Coordinator Leigh Ann Clayton will speak at the next event, Nov. 30.

Related stories

A place to call home

Making a big school feel small

Continuity amid change