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Stanford Women Winter Welcome 2024

Updated: Apr 1

By Joyce Essuman, ‘26 and Ellen Petrill, ‘77, ‘78

 

On the chilly winter evening of February 20, 2024, Cap and Gown convened the 18th annual Stanford Women Winter Welcome in the Vidalakis Dining Hall.  Smiling Cap and Gown members, a warm and welcoming room, and enticing treats greeted the 52 attendees comprised of undergraduate and graduate students, alumni, and Stanford staff and faculty.  The event planning team was led by students and advised by alumnae.  This is the model we alumnae like to support!


Congresswoman Anna Eshoo, our keynote speaker, was riveting, kind, and insightful. The Congresswoman’s speech centered around women empowerment, and the importance of women’s voices at all tables. This marks the 32nd year that Congresswoman Eshoo has been a House Representative, serving for 16 terms. When Congresswoman Eshoo ran in 1992 and won, she made history and became the first woman and Democrat to ever represent California’s 16th district which includes Silicon Valley. Eshoo admitted that she never dreamt of being in Congress, because there were no role models for her growing up. Unlike many male politicians who ran alongside her in 1992, Eshoo hadn’t always been in elected office and didn’t have a concrete plan. Instead, she found a deep love of volunteering in her community for years. Surprising the audience, Eshoo admitted, “I’ve never thought of myself as a trailblazer.” She explained, “I don’t think anyone gets up in the morning and says, ‘I want to be a trailblazer!’ But I knew what I had a passion about.” Eshoo’s love and commitment to her constituency was evident throughout her speech, especially as she described building her base through volunteering, genuine connection, and integrity. Describing the process of re-elections, she recounted the times when she told her staff, “We need to start from scratch, because you can’t take people for granted.” Instead of prestige or power, Eshoo’s love for connecting with people, improving healthcare, and giving women a voice drove her decision to run for office. Although she admitted that Congress is “not for the faint of heart,” she told the audience, “This has been a happy journey for me. It has been a rich experience. I’m so grateful for people placing their trust in me. It’s a sacred trust, and I’ve tried to live up to that.”


When Eshoo first arrived at Congress in 1992, she described it as a “men’s club.” Out of 535 congress members, there were only 32 women in the entire Congress in 1992. Today, there are 151 women in Congress. Although the Congresswoman applauded how far we’ve come, she also pushed for women to continue to fight for representation in Congress. “I want to see women take their place at every public table there is,” Eshoo said, “because we make a difference wherever we are.” Eshoo’s legislation has been grounded in improving healthcare, technology, and the environment, and she became the first woman in the history of Congress to be elected chair of the House Health Subcommittee. She emphasized the importance of bi-partisan collaboration, and her sixty-six bipartisan bills have been signed by five presidents. Leading the most productive legislative subcommittee in Congress, she emphasized, “Women get things done!” As she praised the amazing women that have helped her along her journey in Congress, Eshoo encouraged students to also lift one another up, emphasizing, “There is room for all of us.” Praising the younger generation of women for their boldness and confidence, she also encouraged the students to not give up in the face of adversity. “No generation of Americans has been left without challenges,” she reminded them. “No generation has ever thrown in the towel. It’s up to you to write and make history.”


 

About the Winter Welcome

The Stanford Women Winter Welcome is an annual Cap and Gown event to welcome new women students to the community of women at Stanford. At the 2024 Winter Welcome, the 178th since Cap and Gown started the tradition in 2006, 52 participants came together in Vidalakis Dining Room to learn from and connect with Stanford women leaders.


Thank you to the Cap and Gown Winter Welcome student and alumnae team who made this event happen!

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