Tag Archives: Women’s History Month Quotes

Highlighting Influential Women & Their Stories

In celebration of Women’s History Month, we initiated a conversation with some notable female leaders at Millersville University, inviting them to share their reflections on the profound influence of women in their lives and careers. This dialogue extended beyond identifying impactful figures on campus; it delved into the essence of inspiration, exploring the attributes they most admire, and the lessons learned from these pivotal relationships. Additionally, we asked for their wisdom directed at young women embarking on their university journey or stepping into the professional world, seeking guidance that could light the path ahead. Our conversation also ventured into the future, discussing the aspirations for women in academia, the workplace, and society at large, alongside the practical steps our university community can take to foster these advancements. The responses we received form a mosaic of insights and aspirations, painting a vivid picture of the strength, resilience, and transformative potential women hold, serving as a beacon of inspiration for Millersville University’s students, faculty, and staff. This narrative not only honors the achievements and challenges of women but also aims to empower our community to actively support and contribute to a more inclusive and equitable future.

Who has been the most influential woman in your life or career? How has she inspired you, and what qualities do you admire most in her?

Pietra Jamison- Senior Executive Associate to the President

My grandmother, Oretha, has been the most influential figure in my life and career journey. She hails from Bamberg, South Carolina, and her life story is one of early hardships and unwavering perseverance.

Growing up without her father and losing her mother at just four years old, she was raised by her mother’s family on a farm. There, she learned the value of hard work and dedication from a young age. Despite being a bright child, illness prevented her from completing her education, but it never dimmed her spirit. Moving to Pennsylvania with my grandfather, she faced further challenges, including his struggles with substance abuse and violence. Yet, through it all, her faith in God and belief in the power of education remained steadfast.

Although denied the opportunity to finish formal schooling, she made sure that all her children and grandchildren received an education. Her mantra, “No one can stop what God has in store for you,” reflects her unwavering optimism and determination. Her unwavering support and emphasis on education motivated me to pursue and complete my graduate degree. I am continually inspired by her tireless work ethic, resilience, and unconditional love. Her influence serves as a constant reminder of the importance of perseverance and staying true to oneself in the face of adversity.

Dr. Mary Beth Williams – Vice President for Student Affairs

The most influential women in my life are my three best friends Ginger Young, Tiffany Crandall, and Lesli Hoey. The four of us became friends in eighth grade (1988) at Southwest Junior High in Little Rock, Arkansas. During one of our first sleepovers, we decided to name ourselves “Lianygerethy” which is a combination of all of our names together, and we have emotionally, physically, and professionally supported each other for 36 years and counting (yes, we are all turning 50 this year). Although we now live in four different states (Arkansas, New York, Michigan, and Pennsylvania) with four completely different lives, we always support one another and love one another, we talk often, and we are committed to seeing each other as often as possible. Last fall, we all traveled to Puerto Rico together!

This friendship inspires me because it is one that has stood through the test of time, and it has only gotten better with that time. We challenge each other to be our best selves, our authentic selves. We call one another out when things are not right, and we support one another when there are things to fight for. We ask for each other’s opinions, and we listen to the honest answers we are given because they are, and they have always been given with love first and self-interest last. These women inspire me to be the best version of myself because they have truly seen all of the past versions of myself and have loved me through them. They make me want to be better, do better, and love better. I admire each of them for overcoming their own challenges in life with strength and beauty. We’ve seen each other ugly and sad, and we’ve seen each other beautiful and beaming. Through it all, we have always held onto our friendship like a life preserver in the vast ocean of the world.

I honestly have no idea what the rest of my life will hold, but I know without a shadow of a doubt, the four of us will be in it together helping each other every day.

What advice would you give to young women who are just beginning their university journey or are about to enter the workforce?

Melissa Wardwell – Director of Career Center 

Try to resist the urge to compare your life, success, or abilities to others (and use social media mindfully in that regard). Understand that everyone’s journey is different and remember that success is subjective and defined in different ways by different people.  Focus on your own growth, define your own success, and celebrate your achievements, no matter how small!

NJ Brown – Assistant Director of Fraternity & Sorority Life & Student Engagement

When I started my university journey back in Fall 2014, I remembered how focused I was on graduating in 4 years. When I was looking at my degree audit online, I told myself to stick to Graphic Design because there were more classes available for that concentration and it was easier to plan my four years around it. A year or two into my program, I didn’t want to admit out loud that I didn’t like Graphic Design and that I wished I had asked more questions around illustration as a concentration.

For young women embarking on a new journey, I advise taking your time to learn about your university program. I focused too much on meeting requirements that I didn’t stop to learn about different concentrations or different classes to explore within my program. If I could redo college, I would have chosen all sorts of electives to see which ones resonated with me more than Graphic Design.

For young women entering the work force, still take the time to learn about different professional development opportunities and committees to join. I work for Fraternity and Sorority Life now and I’m glad to join a committee within my professional association and I’m learning more about the Title IX field. It’s ok if your career interests change over time. I certainly did not see myself in FSL or Title IX when I was an undergraduate student, but I also didn’t learn about Higher Education as a career until my senior year of college. Keep your options open and embrace opportunities to learn new skills. You never know where life takes you in a just a few years.

Jackie Aliotta – Assistant Director of Student Organizations & Leadership

Your collegiate years can be very transformative, and you should utilize these years to your advantage. College is a great time to figure out who you are and who you want to become. In addition to excelling academically inside the classroom, get involved co-curricularly outside the classroom as well. Getting involved in clubs and organizations is a great way to meet people, make friends, find your social groups, and enhance your leadership skills. You’re going to develop transferable skills through your involvement that will make you more marketable to future employers. Be a sponge and soak up every opportunity even if you don’t feel completely qualified. Live your best life, network, explore career options, and when you get a seat at the table speak up. You can do anything you set your mind to. 

Lauren Blevins – University Nurse Practitioner & Interim Director of Health Services 

For young women just finishing school and entering the workforce, this may come with some insecurities, and you may question your abilities at times.  It is important to enter your new career eager to learn, ready to challenge yourself, and with confidence.  I encourage women to feel empowered and believe that they are capable and can handle the same challenges as their male colleagues.  Although pay inequity for women is still prevalent, over the past few years we are seeing more women represented in the workforce and holding more executive and managerial roles than in the past.  To be successful, we must prioritize self-advocacy and display assertiveness.  If you cannot be your own champion, you cannot expect others to share your vision or view you as a leader.  You need to be aware of your self-worth, not be afraid to challenge the process, enable others to act, position yourself to set goals, and achieve them. 

We need to cultivate an environment where we continue to learn in our career and not allow anyone to make you feel unworthy of your accomplishments.  I follow the philosophy that you do not ever lose in life; you either win or you learn.  If an outcome is not what we had hoped or expected, we need to take this as an opportunity for growth and make changes to ensure future successes. It is important to ensure your core values align with the institution you work for.  Every company has their own organizational culture.  If you ever feel that your company does not see your dedication or acknowledge your contributions, do not feel powerless.  Instead, you can choose acceptance, and take your talents, experiences, and knowledge to a new environment that shares your vision and values your worth. 

Joni Klopp – Director of Undergraduate Recruitment

Go after what you want. Life is only what you make it, whether on a university campus or in the professional world. Many young women (my younger self included) experience imposter syndrome as they navigate new opportunities. Know your value and don’t be afraid to occupy the space you deserve.

Looking towards the future, what changes do you hope to see for women in academia, the workplace, and society? What steps do you think we can take as a university community to support these changes?

Yvonne DeBlois – Residential Area Director, East Village

Women continue to have a stronger and stronger voice in the workplace and are more empowered to speak up about the disparities we see. As a society, we are getting better at recognizing and calling out biases both conscious and unconscious, and we are lucky at Millersville that we are safe to challenge biases when we see them.

As a university community, we can continue to support these changes by bolstering the systems we have in place that offer resources, recourse, and even perhaps protections to those who do experience or challenge experiences where biases may be at play. We do a good job of reviewing and updating policies and practices so that they may be relevant and flexible as our community needs continue to flex or change. Maintaining this adaptability will allow us opportunity to continue serving our community even in areas we may not be able to fully anticipate.

The insights shared by some of our female leaders at Millersville University have been profoundly inspiring. The diverse narratives presented offer a wealth of wisdom, showcasing the resilience and strength inherent in the female experience. These stories are not just narratives of success but are also guiding lights for overcoming life’s challenges and finding motivation in the face of adversity. We believe that everyone has a story of a woman who has made a significant impact on their lives, whether through direct interaction or through the legacy of their accomplishments. Therefore, we invite our readers to join this meaningful conversation. Share with us: Who are your female role models? How have they inspired you, and what lessons have you drawn from their lives? Let’s continue to build this community of inspiration, sharing stories that uplift and motivate, forging connections that celebrate the incredible contributions of women to our world.