Women rise up in student leadership across Biola

From SGA to SMU, female students are taking charge and representing their peers.


Photo by Thecla Li / THE CHIMES

Macie Cummings, News Editor

This story was originally published in print on Oct. 4, 2018.

Women across campus are stepping into various leadership positions, and several of them hope to empower other women to do the same.

Senior business administration major Sierra McCoy, senior accounting major Mason Van Aken and sophomore sociology and spanish major Liz Herrera all hold leadership positions across campus.

McCoy, the Student Government Association president, believes having examples of women in leadership is crucial in order to give them the representation they need in the working world.

“There’s been so many students who say it’s inspiring to see a woman in leadership,” McCoy said. “I think that we have this idea of who’s in leadership and we never think that it could be us… so to be somebody that isn’t what people expected to see in leadership, or to be a woman in leadership—that is something people couldn’t have imagined.”


McCoy also has senior psychology major Katherine Davis by her side as senior vice president. They are the first all-female duo to hold these positions as it is typically a male-female partnership. SGA’s executive board, which includes McCoy, Davis and four other vice presidents along with two coordinators, has only one male member.

Coming from a family where being a “stay-at-home mom” is typical as opposed to having a career mindset, McCoy has felt some discouragement when pursuing her goals and ambitions.

“I’ve always felt so uncomfortable with my mindset of wanting to be hardworking [and] goal-oriented,” McCoy said. “When I pour my heart out about how excited I get about this job, I feel like I don’t get as much of an excited reaction from individuals as I do when I hear people talk about how they want to be a mother and start a family and get married. I always feel like my goals are never good enough… I get more excited about work and careers so I definitely feel a little non-supported when I shoot for the stars in my heart.”

Van Aken is the Student Missionary Union vice president. She says people react with surprise when they hear of her major and her goals.

“I’m in accounting, which is a really like professional ‘wear a suit to work’ sort of industry,” Van Aken said. “Things that, if I were a man, would seem pretty normal but that’s not a super out of character job to have.”


Van Aken believes there is a lot of value to women holding so many leadership positions on campus.

“I think it helps Biola students a lot, seeing that women can be in roles of leadership, not that it always has to be all-female leadership,” Van Aken said. “Showing students that our leadership is a representation of what our campus looks like is a really cool way to fulfill the needs that we are trying to fulfill for students.”

Herrera is one of the community coordinators for Student Enrichment and Intercultural Development. She has the opportunity to help lead a team of volunteers to help with various SEID events.

“In working with a lot of women… it’s empowered me to not feel so left out of the game,” Herrera said. “Because we’re all women, we can all support each other in a different way.”

Herrera believes it is important to change the way women are perceived by the outside world and the media.

“Our culture is still representing women in a certain way,” Herrera said. “Even on TV you don’t really see women in leadership positions… the way we are portrayed is very different and we start to believe those things that we are told.”


Biola has worked to help empower women on campus, with resources like GRIT working to bridge the confidence gap between men and women.

Van Aken notes that the confidence gap is not something that is talked about much in the world outside of Biola.

“Especially depending on what type of family you grew up with or what your experiences were earlier in life, you might not know that you are capable of doing everything,” Van Aken said. “I think it ends up being more up to women to realize that this is potentially an issue, or even exists, and empower themselves and empower each other.”

McCoy, meanwhile, believes there are still steps needed to be taken to aid in bridging this gap.

“Biola has been doing a really good job of starting to build the conversations, but we don’t do a lot of mentorship resources and people need that,” McCoy said. “We can talk as much as we want about things and really feel impacted but if there’s no rhythm of actually growing someone and walking alongside someone in something, then we’re never going to fully develop into being comfortable with where we are struggling. You don’t see a lot of women in leadership as much but the ones you do see, they matter.”

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