For Casey Margarite Field, leading the charge for female empowerment is one of her life’s passions. And it has taken her to far-flung places.
The UCF student, seeking majors in both finance and economics, was invited to Xinzheng, China, in May to speak about her organization, the SCARF Society, a globally focused women’s mentorship network. She addressed the annual symposium of the World Academy for the Future of Women at Sias International University.
The symposium is an international conference at which speakers discuss global issues and ways to encourage female leadership. Past speakers at the symposium have included the director for the United Nations Women in China organization and the vice president of sustainability for Coca-Cola China.
“I was very impressed by Casey’s passion and hard work in creating a support system for women,” said Cecilia Zhang, an intern for the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai and a former student director of the academy. She currently serves as a sort of a “big sister” to younger academy members.
“Women need to talk to each other, listen to each other, and most of all, support each other,” she said. “Most of the time, women don’t lack the capacity to do things – they just need the confidence and courage to present themselves.”
Field’s can-do spirit comes from her mother, the first strong woman in her life.
“I grew up watching her break through numerous glass ceilings in the construction industry and raise us while working 60 plus hours a week,” Field said. “She encouraged us to pursue our dreams, no matter what.”
She’s had a strong drive to make a meaningful difference ever since.
In 2015, Field was invited to attend the Clinton Global Initiative University in Coral Gables, where she interacted with other college students passionate about social enterprise and first started to broach the idea of a network dedicated to helping women find their voices.
After leading an anti-human-trafficking trip to Guatemala as part of alternative spring break, she met women who hadn’t had access to the mentorship network she had. The experience served as a harsh epiphany.
“We have such a privilege in America because we are given a right to speak up, but in other countries, women can’t even leave their villages,” she said.
Back at UCF, and feeling obligated to do something of significance, Field did. Last year, she founded the SCARF (Stories, Communities and Remarkable Females) Society, an organization dedicated to bringing women together to exchange insights and collaborate on creating positive change.
“The goal of the SCARF Society is to empower women to share their stories and discuss issues in their communities to show that we are all connected in some way and that everyone’s voices matter,” Field said.
The SCARF Society gets its name from Field’s penchant of wearing colorful scarves.
“I have more than 80 in my closet, from all over the world,” she said. “They’re a universal accessory that can be gifted, worn, created and traded. I wanted to make a statement that all of the women in the world are connected in some way.”
In the next year, she’s planning additional “scarf swap” networking events and an app to connect the members of her growing movement. Ultimately, she’s planning for the society to expand internationally. China was the first step on that journey.
Once she graduates, Field wants to work in inclusive finance and impact investing, funding social good initiatives in the developing world.
Jennifer Johnson, director of engagement at the College of Business Administration, says mentorship organizations like Field’s make a powerful impression in the lives of young women.
“They focus on empowerment and helping to develop the next generation of leaders who will create positive social change,” she said. “I am so inspired by Casey’s vision and passion.”