UNC Asheville students enjoy a meal in
L to R: Oksana Kukharets, Madeline Jaekle, Annalisa
Mary Catherine Mills, Grace Salzer and Cassie Papaj
Six UNC Asheville students recently traveled to
Dubai, United Arab Emirates, to attend a three-day conference on
"Women as Global Leaders." Organized by Zayed University, the
conference brings together women from more than 85 countries to
build bridges, share ideas and engage in debate on leadership
UNC Asheville students Madeline Jaekle, Oksana Kukharets, Annalisa
Littleton, Mary Catherine Mills, Cassie Papaj and Grace Salzer
attended the conference to participate in workshops and listen to
panel discussions and keynote speakers. Among this year's speakers
were Jane Fonda, award-winning actress and humanitarian; Sarah
Ferguson, Duchess of York; His Excellency Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al
Nahayan, minister of higher education and scientific research and
president of Zayed University; Her Highness Sheikha Manal bint
Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, president of Dubai Women
Establishment; and Anousheh Ansari, first female private space
explorer and chairman and cofounder of Prodea Systems, Inc.
This year's theme, "Learning Leadership," explored the ways in which
people learn about leadership. Kukharets, a senior political science
major, said she walked away with a more informed opinion about women
leaders in general. "The disparity between the number of male and
female leaders is huge and it really made me question why that is,"
she said. "Many women don't hold very high leadership positions.
Whether they live in the United States or in other countries, it
seems women have to choose between family and career. I think
sometimes it appears easier to balance the two in the United States.
But regardless of the choice, female leadership is extremely
The UNC Asheville students who attended were pleased to be in a
large group of female leaders. "It is so wonderful to know that
there are so many women leaders across the world," Mills said.
Kukharets said she felt a sense of solidarity with the women at the
conference. "The conference brought together women of different
nationalities," she said. "I realized that even though we live in
different parts of the world, we have similar lives."
In addition to participating in the conference, the students had
some time for sightseeing. The six UNC Asheville students said they
had enriching experiences exploring Dubai. "It felt a lot like the
United States sometimes, and then other times not so much," Papaj
said. "My favorite part was the environment, the expanding skyline
beside the desert on the Arabian Gulf."
UNC Asheville has sent groups of students to the Women as Global
Leaders conference in Dubai since it began in 2005.