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Tuesday, June 18, 2024
The Observer

Recognizing women

Since 1995, the United States has recognized the month of March as Women’s History Month in an effort to recognize the contributions and achievements of women in American society. It feels fitting to use my last Inside Column as Saint Mary’s Editor as an opportunity to acknowledge the influence of the women in my life.

Saint Mary’s prides itself in its status as an all-women’s institution. At Saint Mary’s, students are encouraged to be strong, intelligent, independent women who can be leaders in the classroom and in the community. Through its implementation of women’s voices courses in the general education program, students are exposed to the ideas and discoveries of women that may not be included in traditional course content. The College ensures its students have the knowledge and capabilities to handle any gender-based obstacles through the workshops and lectures that it sponsors regarding sexual assault and harassment and being women in the workforce, among others.

The work that Saint Mary’s does in the formation of strong women leaders is best seen in the work that their students do. Sometimes, despite its successes, Saint Mary’s makes mistakes. Saint Mary’s has been without a Belles Against Violence Office (BAVO) director for more than a year. I — and others — have had negative experiences regarding reporting instances of sexual discrimination in the tri-campus community. However, the culture at Saint Mary’s fosters confidence in speaking up about these issues.

If a student is unhappy with something at the school, she feels comfortable stepping up and doing something. Students host demonstrations — such as “Believe Survivors: Rally of Support” — and participate in women’s rights marches as a testament to the strength instilled upon them at this institution and by their peers and professors.

My mom has always encouraged me to do my best and speak my mind, and I credit this to much of my ability to speak up and out. My mother brought me to protests and demonstrations, exemplifying the power in showing up and being active participants in our democracy. Without her educating me on the world around me and showing me how valuable it is to be visible, I would not feel comfortable with being open about my beliefs and opinions. So much of my development as a leader stemmed from my mom showing me the importance of having a voice and using it.

Although my mom is a large influence in my life, my entire family is filled with women that challenge and inspire me every day. My three younger sisters are incredibly funny and witty, bringing me different perspectives on a daily basis. My cousin studied chemistry and biology as an undergraduate and is now pursuing her Ph.D. in biology. Her accomplishments set a great example not only for me but for my younger sisters who can see how much success a woman can have.

I also have to thank my friends because I am surrounded by wonderful women who are doing amazing things and always encourage me to pursue my desires and passions. The people you spend your time with have a massive impact on who you are and your beliefs about yourself and your place in the world. I spend my time with people who are nothing but encouraging and talented, and I am forever grateful for that.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.