Alene Moris Women’s Center


This program has been postponed until further notice. Thank you for your patience!

For over two decades, the Women’s Center has been advising non-traditional students interested in returning to school after some time away.

Every student’s journey to higher education is unique and therefore, we offer ongoing one-on-one advising (in-person and over-the-phone) to help students identify resources and develop an action plan tailored to their needs.

Each fall, the Women’s Center hosts an orientation for future and current incoming UW re-entry students. Orientation covers a variety of topics including financial support, child care, disability services and resources, career services, student healthcare and an opportunity to build a network with other students returning to formal education after a significant time away.

Student Spotlight

Aomawa Shields

In the fall of 2009, it had been eight years since I was last a student. I had heard about the Women’s Center’s Re-entry Orientation, which was specifically geared towards women who were returning to school after a significant time away, and decided to attend. I remember receiving suggestions for staying balanced, working effectively, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle amidst all of the demands of school and home. I still have those resources—many written by Nancy Finelli—and referred to them often during school.

I am immensely grateful to the UW Women’s Center for creating this program for women like me who deal with singular challenges inherent to being an older student, with a spouse and/or children. I recall Nancy Finelli’s willingness to meet with me after the orientation to check on my progress and listen to my feelings of fear, worry, and self-doubt, which I needed to walk through on the road to self-confidence.

I received my Ph.D. in Astronomy and Astrobiology from the University of Washington in 2014. Today, I am an NSF Astronomy and Astrophysics Postdoctoral Fellow and a UC President’s Postdoctoral Program Fellow at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) and the Harvard- Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA), and a 2015 TED Fellow. I attribute my success in graduate school to hard work, perseverance, consistent love and encouragement from my husband, family and friends, and extensive mentorship and campus community support.

I am also gratefully humbled by the opportunities I have had to give back, by sharing my experience with new returning women students in successive Re-entry Orientations, and with women students of color in the Women’s Center Making Connections program. I hope many more women receive as much    support from these programs as I have, and that this support leads them to successful, happy, fulfilling lives.