Winona State University's Newspaper since 1919

The Winonan

Winona State University's Newspaper since 1919

The Winonan

Winona State University's Newspaper since 1919

The Winonan


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WSU Clubs: Women Who Lead

Larissa Lopez
Winona State University Reproductive Justice Club representants: Ashlynn, Jessica and Olivia

With many clubs at Winona State University, there is something for everyone. From Academic Clubs to Special Interests, there are many opportunities for students to find their calling and community and encounter diligent leadership roles.

Jessica “Jess” Weis is Co-President of the WSU Students for Reproductive Justice Club. Weis describes the club itself to be inspired by famous activist Loretta Ross, who is cofounder of SisterSong and Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective. Weis had initially joined as a first-year student, and while COVID-19 interfered briefly, she has continued the momentum ever since.

At their first meeting of the year, Weis was surprised to find the room filled with plenty of fresh faces, many of them being first-year students. When asked what it is like to be a woman in a position of leadership, Weis described it to be quite empowering.

“It’s nice to have a group of people who value your ideas and words and then reaffirm each other,” Weis said.

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This year, the club is working on fundraising, mutual aid projects and hosting events around campus in hopes of spreading awareness and creating safe spaces for the community.

Ashlynn “Ash” Leonard is Vice President of the club and mentioned that the issues they tackle can become quite controversial.

“It can become a little nerve-racking as to how people will respond to the issue at hand and how they might react to women being in charge,” Leonard said.

However, Leonard continued to describe how this might cause their positions to be held to a higher standard, and they take this chance to be role models for all; both inside and outside of the club.

“To be a woman in a leadership role with other women is an incredibly cool feeling,” Leonard said. “That alone has made the experience so amazing. I am very grateful to have such a supportive environment to work in as well as being able to speak up without fear or being talked over.”

In addition to the WSU Students for Reproductive Justice club, The Winonan student newspaper is run by all women as of this year. This fall, Sophia Sailer became the Editor in Chief of The Winonan and describes her new role giving power to highlight students at the very core.

“Starting as a news reporter in 2020, the search for the student voice and institutional communication was clearly needed,” Sailer said. “Seeing this need gave me the passion to create hard-hitting articles, and now run a hard-hitting newspaper. This means keeping the student’s voice in the system and creating a democratic culture at Winona State.”

When asked what it is like to be a woman in her role of leadership, Sailer described countless instances against her work. In addition to name calling, Sailer has been described as “emotional,” receiving numerous hate comments in response to her articles.

“At the end of the day, these words and actions encourage me to write more articles like these because they are creating a difference,” Sailer said.

Sailer pointed out that The Winonan is an all women-led club as of this year, and she is excited for the direction the student newspaper will take.

Sailer also wanted to mention that women and girls should stop apologizing, especially in the workforce.

“If you’re uncomfortable, listen to yourself and say something,” Sailer said. “How you feel matters and will help people in the process.”

Karina Kpahn had previously worked with the board members for events including Take Back the Night before officially joining as club Co-President alongside Weis. Kpahn explained that reproductive justice is not only access to healthcare and the right to have a family in a safe environment, but that it is tied to other issues such as environmental justice as well.

Kpahn described that the best way to work toward a position of leadership is to simply be brave and apply, because opportunity can come your way after that. Leonard shared similar advice.

“My piece of advice would be to get comfortable putting your foot down,” Leonard said. “Get comfortable speaking up and voicing your opinions or concerns or point of view. Do not let people push you around and be your hero if you must. The road can get bumpy but think of all the other girls and women who will look up to you as an inspiration for their own successes. We always need more women supporting women.”


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About the Contributors
Karleigh Johnson, News Reporter
Karleigh Johnson (she/her/hers) is a reporter for the Winonan as of fall 2023. She started off at North Hennepin Community College and transferred to Winona State University in her third year to Major in Creative Digital Media and Minor in both Film Studies and Spanish. 
After attending Nuevas Fronteras Spanish Immersion, Karleigh continues to have a passion for the Spanish language and culture. She studied in Spain through Winona State University in May of 2023. Karleigh enjoys travel, art, writing, photography and videomaking. 
Karleigh participated in the Disney College Program in Spring 2022 and became a Disney Trainer. After graduation, she hopes to return to Disney by working for one of the many media and entertainment companies Disney owns. Her dream is to write her own television show inspired by comedic styles of The Office, Parks and Recreation, Arrested Development, and many others.
Larissa Lopez, Photographer
Larissa Lopez (she/her/hers) is currently a photographer at The Winonan.
Larissa is an international student from Santa Cruz, Bolivia and is a second-year student at Winona State University in the major of Finance. She loves experimenting with the different activities offered on campus, and visiting as many places as possible. She hopes as a photographer, to be able to experience more events and portray them.
Larissa’s hobbies include watching films of any genre, making traditional and digital art, listening to music and biking around Winona.

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