NCCWSL Scholarships

Announcing 2020 NCCWSL AAUW-TN Scholarship Winners

Congratulations to Grace Kidd (Maryville College), Alexa Marqueo-Toledo (Maryville College), and Brianna Guydon (MTSU) who have received a Scholarship from AAUW-TN to attend the 2020 NCCWSL conference in College Park, Maryland in May 2020. The National Conference for College Women Student Leaders (NCCWSL) provides college women the opportunity to network with peers, discuss and debate issues important to women today, providing college women the tools for creating meaningful impact on her campus, mobilizing her community, and preparing for personal and professional success after graduation.

More about our Scholarship Winners

Grace Kidd is a Sophomore at Maryville College, majoring in Sociology. Grace was nominated by AAUW-Maryville Branch.
In Her Own Words:
My whole life I have seen myself as a background character, but I have always wanted to be a leader. I knew I had the ability and the passion, and through Bonner Council and Food Recovery at Maryville College, I have learned how to put many different leadership skills to practice. By attending NCCWSL, I believe I will gain even more skills I never knew of along with learning how to specifically be a strong
female leader. Out of all of the skills I have acquired, I still do not know how to apply them to a male dominant world, and if I live my life as a leader without this information, I will constantly be in the shadow of a man. However, I believe this conference will show me how to rise from the shadows and stand right beside our male leaders while still rising even farther, bringing not only men up with me, but minority groups as well.


Alexa Maqueo-Toledo is a Sophomore at Maryville College, majoring in Sociology with Minors in Spanish & Writing Communications. Alexa was nominated by the AAUW-Maryville Branch.

In Her Own Words:
At Maryville College I am part of the Latino Student Alliance, Dreamer Support Team, and started a chapter of the national organization called Define American on campus. Through these organizations, I have gained many skills such as communication, time-management, event planning, and problem-solving. I believe I will greatly benefit from attending the NCCWSL conference and learn more ways to grow as a student, leader, and woman. Hearing the stories of successful women and how they battled their obstacles will help me find ways to do the same. I will take what I learn at this conference and share it with my community so others can as well.


Brianna Guydon is a Sophomore at Middle Tennessee State University, majoring in Theatre Education. Brianna was nominated by MTSU and AAUW-Murfreesboro Branch.

In Her Own Words:
When I was younger, I would go to my father about all of the things that were wrong in the world. He taught me to take any situation I was in and envision how I could make a difference. Through my opportunities to lead on my campus and be involved in my community, I have learned the importance of supporting other women. I am eager to say I have even more to learn as a collegiate woman. NCCWSL will be an amazing opportunity for me to connect with other leaders on other campuses, learn more about steps I could be taking to enhance my campus and community, and how best to represent women as a whole. Thank you very much to all who made this opportunity available!



About NCCWSL Scholarships

AAUW of Tennessee is proud to offer opportunities for leadership development for university and college women in Tennessee through scholarships to attend the National Conference for College Women Student Leaders  (NCCWSL).  NCCWSL is a two-and-a-half day conference designed to enhance the leadership skills of college women students and to promote effectiveness in their work on campus and in the community. For more information about NCCWSL go to

Each year AAUW College/University Partners in Tennessee and AAUW Tennessee Branches have the opportunity to nominate undergraduate students currently attending a college/university in Tennessee for AAUW-TN scholarships to attend NCCWSL. Scholarships cover conference registration (including lodging and meals). AAUW Tennessee branches and AAUW College/University Partners who nominate students are expected to contribute to their travel expenses if they receive AAUW-TN scholarships.  AAUW-TN has awarded college women the NCCWSL Scholarship since 2005.



Kirksey Croft (IN HER OWN WORDS):

I hope that by attending NCCWSL, I can learn strategies for bettering my own leadership and extracurricular experiences in a way that can reach other people in my community. I strive to learn how to invest my own leadership qualities in a way that inspires and engages the young women in my community to look beyond the barriers that they face and see their full potential as leader in the workforce, governmental institutions, organizations and more.


Megan Henley (IN HER OWN WORDS):

I hope that by attending NCCWSL I can share my experience as a female student leader on campus and learn from other women that have faced obstacles in their time as student leaders. As women in positions of leadership, we have a unique perspective of our campuses reflective of the roles that women must occupy in our society. I look forward to learning about how to effectively lead fellow students and growing together and bringing that back to leadership positions I will occupy on campus in the future.



Amanda Steele (IN HER OWN WORDS):

Through NCCWSL, I feel I will acquire new skills and an even greater self-confidence. I want nothing more than to continue to experience things that will encourage my pursuit of knowledge and growth. I know that NCCWSL would provide me with some pieces I am still missing. I believe this experience would push me out of my comfort zone facilitating the skill of embracing change. It will provide the opportunity to surround myself with like-minded women and to network with empowering and inspiring women who also want to change the world by eliminating labels, leveling the playing field, and making it a better place.


Maddie Stephens is a Senior English Literature major at The University of Tennessee, Knoxville and was nominated by UT Knoxville College/University Partner representative.

In her own words:  When I arrived at the NCCWSL, all my anxiety about attending a national conference morphed into awe. There were over 500 diverse participants, young female student leaders like myself with incredible stories of perseverance and triumphs, that reminded me of why I chose to run for Student Services Director for SGA at UTK in the first place and why my voice deserves and needs to be heard.

I was also able to listen to powerful female leaders already changing the world nationally and locally as we know it including Tarana Burke, founder of the #MeToo movement, and Murfreesboro’s Vice Mayor Madelyn Scales Harris who is influencing our own Tennessee community. They had extensive wisdom to provide and reaffirmed the importance of remaining politically active and my drive to serve in public office in the future. I’m so thankful to have had this wonderful experience and I hope to continue to grow into the leader NCCWSL and AAUW are educating and inspiring women to be!

Ashley Mendez, Senior Dietetics student, The University of Tennessee at Martin, was nominated by AAUW Martin Branch.

In her own words:  Attending NCCWSL provided me with an incredible opportunity to be surrounded by not only a group of diverse strong women, but also a group of women working towards a common cause who empower each other through positivity.  I learned so much from empowered women of all ages who have become strong fearless leaders in their communities and across the country.  These included Tarana Burke who stated “I am a survivor that came up with a solution.” The breakout sessions were tailored for our own individual needs and were phenomenal!!  The networking that took place helped me to make life-long friends from across the country and I learned I am not alone in the challenges I face.  I am now armed with what I need to move forward to promote women equality!!  I would love to attend NCCWSL again as it was so inspiring and uplifting!!!


Gaye Coleman (left), 2017 AAUW-TN NCCWSL Scholarship recipient, at a tabling event at UT Martin, spreading the word about AAUW











Gaye Coleman from UT Martin said this about her NCCWSL experience: “I was so impressed, not only by the quality of speakers, but also by the participants as they shared their own stories in small breakout sessions and over meals.  Timely topics included leadership development, professional development, activism, women’s issues, identity and diversity issues, plus group think sessions.” Gaye’s big take-away was: “Find your voice and never stop telling your story.”

For Bonnie Carroll of MTSU, “one message resonated…strong women need other strong women.” She stated: “I have never felt more important or valid anywhere than I did at NCCWSL. Surrounded by confident and successful women, I was constantly reassured that my feelings, aspirations and thoughts were all very significant. I left each workshop and lecture with something intangible that I knew would help me to become a stronger and more competent leader.”

Amela Gjishti from TN Tech University shared that “All the speakers…highlight[ed] how important it is to be yourself and how not to be afraid to speak up for what you think is right or wrong.” She went on to say: “What actually impressed me the most was the fact that even though all of the girls that I met came from different cultural and education backgrounds, we would perfectly relate to each other when it came to how we approach different things in life.”


Molly Blankenship (left) and Ufuoma Peace Otebele (right) receive congratulations from AAUW-TN 2015-16 President Ayne Cantrell











Molly Blankenship, MTSU alumnus majored in Liberal Studies with concentrations in Political Science and Social Work/Advocacy. Ms. Blankenship is Founder and Director of two nonprofit community organizations: (1) Reclaim Ourselves, an organization dedicated to utilizing the arts as a mechanism for advancing social change and (2) The Lavinia Project, a community literacy project for survivors of domestic and sexual violence. She plans to use the information from NCCWSL “to be empowered to expand and advance my leadership skills so as to be more effective as an agent of change on behalf of underprivileged and marginalized populations in the society in which we live.”

Haley Wilson (recent UT Chattanooga graduate) majored in Political Science with a focus on American Studies with a minor in Women’s Studies. Ms. Wilson held a number of campus leadership positions, including Sisterhood Chair; ELECT HER Planning Committee; Tennessee Intercollegiate State Legislature: Lobbying CEO 2015, Lobbying Director 2016; Tennessee Intercollegiate State Legislature UTC Delegation: Secretary 2015, Vice President 2016.

Ufuoma Peace Otebele (UT Martin alumnus) majored in Biology with a minor in English. Ms. Otebele was UT Martin’s Women Student Association President. She says, “Attending NCCWSL meant the world to me and will indirectly profit many women around the world.”

2015 NCCWSL Scholarship Recipients

Jamie Farr (L) and Megan Terry (Center) with NCCWSL friend Aisha Saidy (R)

Jamie Farr (L) and Megan Terry (Center) with NCCWSL friend Aisha Saidy (R)

One of the 2015 Recipients was: Megan Merrick

Megan Merrick web
Megan Merrick, a recent graduate of Middle Tennessee State University, attended the National Conference for College Women Student Leaders, May 28-30, 2015, at the University of Maryland, College Park. She was one of more than 1,000 young women from across the country and around the world who attended the conference. Attendees participated in 50 workshops and networked with representatives from more than 80 graduate schools and employers. Merrick was president of the MT Anthropology Society and had a double minor in archaeology and history.

Past recipients are:

2015 Recipient
Megan Merrick, MTSU
Sarah Dianne Jones, Maryville College
Jamie Farris, UT Martin

2014 Recipient
Sophia Naomi Plant, MTSU

2013 Recipient
Kellum K. Everett, MTSU

2012 Recipient
Jullian Harris, University of Kentucky

2011 Recipients
Lisa Walker, MTSU

2010 Recipients
Mandi Leigh Smith, Maryville College
Jennifer M. Swegles, UT Martin
Kamryn Warren, MTSU

2009 Recipients
Carlissia N. Graham, Univ of Memphis
Leslea Robertson, UT Martin

2008 Recipients
Monique Denney, MTSU
Ashlyn Gurley, Maryville College
Katie Beth Price, UT Martin

2007 Recipients
Claire M. Beck, Belmont Univ
Page Goad, TN Tech
Nora M. Cook, Belmount Univ

2005 Recipients
Heidi von der Lage, recommended by Oak Ridge Branch
Candace Marshall Hannan, recommended by Oak Ridge Branch