Coffee With Cool Women continues flash mentoring with unexpected learning curves

Women's Studies director Catherine Seltzer anticipates Coffee With Cool Women conversations for the Spring 2015 semester. Photo by Theresa San Luis

An unexpected, non-linear path may happen—whether in life or in a career; and in group conversations during Coffee With Cool Women (CWCW) the direction may lead likewise.

Every semester, the Women’s Studies program sets up one-hour conversations with “cool women.” These women have chosen interesting, challenging and sometimes unconventional careers, and meet with a small group of SIUE students to talk about the pleasures, frustrations and the surprises of their professional lives.

According to SIUE Women’s Studies Director Catherine Seltzer, who founded CWCW, students can learn through the casual conversations about how life may go in different directions than originally intended and find success in different ways.

“We can move forward, backward, even in circles, and that can be really, really fruitful,” Seltzer said.

Seltzer added that CWCW is a way for students to be exposed to a lot of different ways of using the term success.

CWCW presents this semester Dr. Delores Cantrell, family practitioner and SIUE alumnus Feb. 12.  She will discuss the personal sacrifices she overcame to become a professional, wife and mother of three to obtain her goals in life.

Professor LaDonna Long will talk about her research in rape victimization and her combined interest with activism March 26. She is also a certified medical advocate with Rape Victim Advocates. She received her Ph.D. in Criminology, Law and Justice from the University of Illinois-Chicago in 2009.

Michelle Krusiec, an American actor and writer of Taiwanese descent, will discuss her work advocating on behalf of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Awareness.  Krusiec performed in the film “Saving Face” for which she earned a Best Actress Chinese Language Oscar Nomination in the 2005 Golden Horse Ceremony.

Seltzer said the women featured in the discussions offer “flash mentoring:” a glimpse into their choices.

“They inspire, they make us laugh, they’re just really honest,” Seltzer said. “They talk about their mistakes, their greatest successes–they’re very real.”

She added that as students are preparing for work in the real world, the more honest reflection they can have access to, the more open they’ll be to experiences.

Seltzer said she feels like she has learned from every one of the speakers even when they were in professions other than her own.

During the conversations, Seltzer said they take a very organic approach–speakers talk about their own lives and answer questions that students may have.

“Conversations go in really unexpected directions,” Seltzer said. “Every session is different and our job is to let it happen

To reserve seating, which is limited, contact professor Catherine Seltzer at

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