Born and raised in Iowa City, Simone Fernandes knew she wanted to stay close to home for college. She had a passion for creativity, and wanted to find a way to use that in a future career. Today, she is in her second year as operations coordinator at the Women’s Resource and Action Center, after graduating from the UI in 2017 with a degree in communications, a minor in religion and media, and a writing certificate.
During her first year as a student, she says she realized she needed to get involved with something that would make the university feel smaller. She joined Iowa Iowa Ahndi, a south Asian fusion dance team, her first year.
“What I loved about it was that it was a diverse group of people,” she says. “People from all ethnicities, all genders, and we were just working together to create something beautiful, and having so much fun doing it. I really enjoyed performing with them.”
After graduation, Fernandes knew she wanted to work for the university, making a difference in a creative role. She applied for several positions, but the job at WRAC stood out because of its broad role and level of responsibility.
“What’s been nice about this job is I can kind of shape it, and make it my own,” Fernandes says. “So I do a lot of administrative things like scheduling and communication, but I’ve also gotten to dabble in student programming, which is where the Womxn of Colour Network comes in.”
The idea for the WOCN first came up in the Spring of 2017. Fernandes said that Jessica Padilla, WRAC’s Iowa N.E.W. Leadership program coordinator, called her into her office to run the idea past her.
“I understood it to be like nothing else on campus; really bridging the gap between students and faculty and staff, bringing together a community that otherwise might not get the opportunity to have their own space.”
While Padilla was telling her about the idea, Fernandes was thinking about ideas for a logo. She showed them to Padilla, and their partnership was born. Now, Fernandes handles the marketing, branding, social media, and promotion for the WOCN.
As far as the future goes, she says her work at WRAC is not done yet.
“I’m still dipping my toes into the adult world, and I think that WRAC has been a great transition for me.”
Fernandes says she wants to continue working with students and student programming, and to continue growing the Womxn of Colour Network. Last year, she even put on an event on her own: a zumba/WERQ fitness night at the CRWC, where she is a zumba instructor in her free time. She says she hopes she can continue planning programs that everyone in the network can enjoy.