Life West students Ashley Gonzales and Nikki Kielkowicz are showing the world what it looks like to juggle responsibilities. They’ve spent the past several months balancing their chiropractic studies with planning for an upcoming conference, Making HERstory, that celebrates women in chiropractic.
That’s no easy task. Large events take months of extensive planning: Lining up venues, advertising event programs and finding ways to attract attendees.
Gonzales, above right, and Kielkowicz, left, are leading the organization behind the one-day conference, on Saturday, Oct. 19, at the California Ballroom in Oakland, as a way to showcase and honor women in chiropractic. Presentations and workshops from renowned female chiropractors will fill the agenda for the day.
The idea that became Making HERstory came about after another women’s chiropractic summit was canceled, the two wrote in an article in Lifelines, Life West’s student magazine. Gonzales and Kielkowicz had a marathon brainstorming session after class one day in the fall of 2018, which led to the idea of running their own conference and inspired a list of potential speakers.
“We thought of a bunch of chiros that rocked our boats in our first year,” Gonzales said. “We brain-dumped onto the paper, and that’s what got the ball rolling.”
“It was so unfortunate that the women’s seminar got canceled,” Kielkowicz added. “We literally wrote the names of chiropractors down on the back of Ashley’s notebook. We thought, ‘How cool would it be if we got all these people together in one room?’”
Once the pair fleshed out their idea, they began putting the wheels in motion. They recall facing a bit of doubt from a small minority of onlookers, but they are quick to stress that responses from the community at large have been overwhelmingly positive.
“We got some skepticism just because the previous women’s seminar fell through,” Kielkowicz said. “For the most part, though, 95 percent of people have been super on-board and super excited. It’s been a humbling experience to see how many people are willing to support us.”
Finding ways to promote the event involved some resourcefulness. Gonzales said that while she had previously planned events and used social media outlets to drive interest, a few parts of this particular event-planning job involved learning on the fly.
“Neither of us had any prior website design experience,” she said with a smile. “We both sort of self-taught ourselves using YouTube, since YouTube can teach you anything and everything.”
The conference begins at 8 am with the first of 12 sessions, and will continue through the early evening hours. More than 150 people have already purchased tickets, which are available through the event’s website, and both co-founders are excited for what’s ahead.
“I’m excited for the doors to open; not just for us, but for the people who are going to get to network with each other,” Gonzales said. “New friendships and new mentorships have a great possibility of happening, because there’s going to be a good mix of docs and students.”
“There are a few speakers at this event that have definitely changed my life,” Kielkowicz said. “That’s been through them being there for me and showing me what my potential is. I’m excited for people to see themselves in someone that’s doing something they want to do and spearheading their own journeys from that point.”