Inspiring Women: Part 1

March 04, 2008

On March 1, Christy Jones asked our blog readers to share a story about a woman who inspires them in honor of Women’s History Month. We’ve asked AAUW staff and affiliates the same question, and we will be posting their responses each week in March. This is the first post in our series. We invite you to continue to share your own stories in the comments section.

Davina Hoyt, AAUW member and a Student Advisory Council member:
My mother, Rita Marshall, inspires me. Whether she was starting a traveling cheerleading team in our low-income neighborhood to motivate young girls or feeding the homeless, she constantly put the needs of others first. A teenage mother at sixteen with my eldest brother, Lorenzo, she was determined to do better. My mother instilled in us the importance of an education. Who would have ever thought that a young, single teenage mother would have been able to raise four successful children, one recently having a street named after him, a soon-to-be doctor, a successful business owner, and an entrepreneur?

Amanda Petersen, program assistant for the AAUW Educational Foundation:
One woman who has recently been a force of inspiration in my life has been Tina Fey, the former head writer of Saturday Night Live and the star of the television show 30 Rock. Tina Fey has established herself as a well-known comedian in a primarily male-dominated field. It is incredibly refreshing and inspiring to see a woman on television who does not feel the need to apologize for being feminist, for being strong, and for supporting women’s causes. Too often the misconception of what it means to be an independent woman, perhaps even “feminist,” intimidates women into skirting the subject or explaining themselves in a way that is apologetic. Tina Fey and other women like her who are vocal and unwavering in their beliefs encourage me to be an assertive woman and to stick to my beliefs despite the challenges I may face.

Kate C. Farrar, director of the AAUW Leadership and Training Institute:
Diana Spatz, founder and executive director of LIFETIME — Low-Income Families’ Empowerment Through Education, is a woman who inspires me. LIFETIME is a nonprofit organization created by student mothers at the University of California, Berkeley, who completed college degrees while raising their families on welfare and who are committed to helping others do the same. Each year, LIFETIME provides direct services to help more than 400 parents enroll in, continue, and complete education and training programs, while engaging them in political education, community organizing, and direct advocacy to address the policies that keep their families and communities poor. As an individual who believes in and strives to dedicate myself to social change, there is no better example than the day-to-day work of LIFETIME and their members. I am always in awe when I hear about their incredible work that truly does change individual lives and create new empowered leaders.

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