Women's History Month 2013:
Women Making History Every Day
The theme for Women's History Month this year is "Women Making History Everyday."
We wanted to engage our students and get them thinking about, not just the well-known
historical women who have made a difference in the world, but the everyday women that
we know who impact our lives in large and small ways. We asked students to submit written
pieces about the women who have made a difference in their lives, families, and communities.
The response was overwhelming. Over 300 students submitted written pieces honoring
the women in their lives. The following pieces were selected by a committee to be
displayed during the Women's History Month opening ceremony.
We would like to thank all of the students who submitted written pieces.
As a student athlete, I am required to attend study hall each week. Megan always helps
me. She is the first person that says "hi" to me when I walk in. She puts so much
effort into assisting student athletes and takes pride in making sure they get the
most out of their education.
My grandmother stated a group to help any parent deal with the loss of a child because
she lost a child herself and she knows the pain involved. Even with the loss of her
husband and one of her six children, she continues to live courageously and happily.
In high school, I had an English teacher who changed my life. She taught and still
teaches her students ways to love learning, and she taught me about life. She gives
students the means and encouragement to go out and make history of their own.
My wife is a nurse and she helps people every day. She recently revived a young man
that had dies in a building lobby. She displays compassion and empathy to total strangers
on a daily basis.
Because of her determination throughout college and her career, she was recognized
as one of the University of Memphis' Top 100 Influential Women. As a graduate of the
business school, she has pushed me to believe that I can do anything.
My grandmother's dream of a college degree did not come quickly. After witnessing
3 sons attend college and enduring 20 years of hard work and determination, she graduated
at the top of her class at the University of Memphis. She went on to obtain her MA
and Doctorate in Education. She lived an exemplary life.
She was more than an educator, but a motivator, encourager, counselor. There was not
one day that could walk in East High School with a sad face or having a bad day because
she was there to encourage you to make it and do better.
They have been partners for almost twenty years. When I met them I knew they were
a couple—loving and supporting one another without question. They said that being
a lesbian couple did not define them but added to who they are.
My anatomy teacher though that discussing safe sex was an important topic and too
important to let go. She continued to discuss safe sex with her classes even when
the school administration disagreed. She was fired. She was trying to do what was
My high school English teacher made a difference in my life. She encouraged me to
attend college. She would always tell me how much potential I had and encouraged me
to better myself and my surroundings.
When she was diagnosed with MS, they told her she may not be able to walk well or
work. My mother didn't let that stop her. She continued to teach school and provide
for our family. She has not only touched my life but made a difference in the lives
of several students who needed extra care.
She overcame poverty, and abuse. Born in the most poverty-stricken county in Mississippi,
she overcame the negatives. She earned her GED at the age of 32 and her college degree
at 37. She believed in herself and set an example for me that education is the key
to economic, spiritual, and emotional stability.
She juggled raising her children with attending college and working. She became a
well-educated women who is respected in her field of law. She continues to give back
to her community.
She is a young woman I deeply respect for her dedication as a doula. She recognized
the need to challenge the status quo of hospital births and unnecessary medical interventions.
She helps women understand their options.
My grandmother and great aunt were refugees from Burma when the Japanese invaded in
WWII. They walked overland into India over a week. They were then active in the Indian
I have always thought I was inspired by women of renown, but I have come to realize
that fame does not inspire greatness as much as an example of love. No other woman
has shown this to me more than my mother.
She always stressed the importance of raising your children and giving them the support
they need. I can hear her voice in my head now: "no one is going to treat your kids
like you do."
Mrs. L. was the only teacher that ever challenged me academically. When I was in fifth
grade, the staff wanted to have me medicated, but she helped funnel my energies into
more constructive arenas.
My grandmother is an inspiration. She has always been a great role model for me. She
is the pianist for my church, and has been for over 25 years. Ever since I started
playing the flute back in the 6th grade, she has helped me with my music.
My wife, a first-generation immigrant, has overcome many personal and professional
challenges. She has met them with a sense of dignity, perseverance and passion.
My mom raised two children on an adjunct professor's pay; we both grew up to finish
college, be employed, and go to graduate school.
My sister fearlessly works to reverse the bad reputation that pit bulls have simply
because of their breed. Through her work with shelters and rescue groups, she has
helped many find loving homes.
Journalist and podcast co-host Allison Kilkenny has spent the last few years traveling
the nation, covering stories like Occupy Wall Street and the Chicago Teachers Union
strike. She has challenged me to think critically.
My mother, a chief in the United States Navy, will forever be a part of history as
the first woman to receive two "Sailor of the Year" awards.
My grandmother, a middle-school teacher, buys extra school uniforms and keeps them
in the classroom for students whose parents cannot afford them.
My grandmother was the first female counselor at an all-male drug and alcohol facility.
She fought every day for those who couldn't fight for themselves because they were
suffering from addiction.
My sister-in-law has made a difference by volunteering at St. Jude Children's Research
Hospital and taking care of my nephew who is a patient there.
My best friend is a teacher and a musician. She has mastered the art of balance as
she works a "practical job" but also pursues creative endeavors.
My mother was an orphan in a country where children were not protected. She found
a way to study and eventually opened her own company before emigrating. She worked
until the last day of her life, teaching me that there are no obstacles to achievement.
My mother was a single parent who worked full time and went to school at night. Eventually,
we had a house of our own, she was promoted to a respected and well-paying position,
and she graduated at the top of her class from the University of Memphis.
My twelfth-grade English teacher used every opportunity to stress the importance of
knowing our Black history and related the readings to our everyday lives.
My mother is a pediatrician and has contributed greatly to the city of Memphis. She
would see patients at little cost if a family couldn't afford a doctor's visit. Giving
back is important to her.
The director of the Refugee Empowerment Program provides assistance to newcomer families
through tutoring programs and ESL courses. She advocates for them in schools, emergency
rooms, and even in jails. She speaks out against any discrimination of refugees in
A woman who has influenced my life is a neurologist, a mother of four, and a board
member of the Memphis Islamic Center. She advised me to be active in my community
in order to be happy.
My hero is an 83-year-old woman from the Memphis Figure Roller Skating Club who teaches
adults and children how to skate without falling. She has inspired me to be my best
self and to never hold back.
My mom was a single mother of five and had two jobs. Our fathers did not give us a
dime. Regardless of the negative, my mother put us through school efficiently. She
is my hero and one of the strongest women I know.
My mother's strength to financially support our family and cook dinner at the end
of the day inspires me to work hard and never back down from any obstacle.
When I was in high school, my mother went to school for real estate. Three years later,
she became one of the most successful agents in her office and the entire county.
My source of motivation is my mother because of her 25 years in the Navy and her ability
to raise three successful children and challenge the status quo.
With her beauty, grace, and wisdom, she has taught me how to live a life complete
with love and happiness.
If I can say I am half the woman my mother is, I will have a life to be proud of.
She is my best friend, my mentor, and the one who raised me. I am the man that I am
now because of her.
It is a shame that society has determined to restrict the celebration of a woman like
her to a single month in the year. She works just as hard, if not harder, than any
My grandmother sacrificed her goals during her golden years to ensure we had our bare
necessities met. She is my hero, my confidant, my best friend, and the main reason
that I am who I am today.
When she was 21 she had 3 children. Many people, even her own family, said that she
wouldn't amount to anything. Their doubt gave her motivation. She now has several
degrees, makes good money, and her situation gives me the drive that I need to complete
She said: 'Show all the boys that girls can be smart.'
Growing up, she taught me that being a woman should not hinder you from achieving
Whether it is taking dinner to a sick church member, or sending someone an encouraging
card, she never forgets those who are in need.
~ Lindsay W.
When I get to meet her students and they tell me how wonderful she is, all I can think
is 'I know.'
She works, volunteers, and takes care of her family. She donates her time and money.
Just by being herself, she makes a difference every day.
I met her at a bus stop. She was a struggling, yet devoted mother. She worked two
jobs and was a student. She represents all the women trying to better themselves and
have a greater quality of life. She gave me hope for my future.
I first saw her in the cotton fields with my mother. I do not understand how she escaped
cotton picking and became a teacher. At that particular time, she was the only African
American woman in our small Southern town teaching.
She works cleaning offices early in the morning so that she can be back home in time
to make us breakfast and take my brother to school. Our entire lives she has sacrificed
everything she has in order to provide for us.
She is my friend, my companion, my mentor, my mother, my everything.
Although she may never make our history books, she holds many honorable qualities
that are associated with the leaders who have shaped our country and the heroes who
She grew up loving dance. When she was just 16 years old she was diagnosed with polio.
It caused her to have to use a wheelchair, cane, or crutch her entire life, but that
didn't stop her. She stayed strong.
No, my mother is not a politician or someone famous, but she is an important part
of my history. She has made me into the person I am today and she inspires me daily.
Every woman who dedicates herself to raising a child is shaping future generations.
Without my mom, without your mom, our society would cease moving forward.
She has a hearty laugh, crooked smile, sparkling sea eyes, and fiery red hair that
can only represent her strong spirit and warm, forgiving heart.
My Grandmother has made a difference for me. As she got older she became legally blind.
She is still able to do everything anyone else can do & through this she still has
a good sense of humor. This just shows me even when life pushes me down it's ok, and
I can continue to go on.
My mom literally sacrificed her life for me. I am from Serbia. 6 months after I was
born the war began & my mom was held at gun point & forced into a concentration camp.
A year & a half later Serbians were lined up & being shot one by one. My mom was next.
With me in her arms she prayed to God & pleaded with them not to shoot me, to take
her. Before they were able to shoot we were saved. She is an amazing human being.
I would like to recognize my teacher, Dr. Cheryl B. She goes way beyond the typical
teacher. She will do anything to make sure you're on the correct path & give you as
much, or any information to get you where you need to be, and encourages her students
to reach their full potential.
Ms. Angela R., the mother of my friend, makes a difference. She has started an organization
to reduce infant mortality in Memphis & also helps pregnant teenage girls.
Someone who has made a difference in my life is my mom. She is a veteran of the United
States Navy. She has inspired me to become an officer in the Navy. Her commitment
& determination allows her to accomplish any goal. All the qualities my mother possesses
are those that are necessary to have a successful career in the U.S. Armed Forces.
For these reasons, I admire her.
There is one women in particular that I feel is very honorable—my Stepmom. What makes
her so honorable is that she took me & my siblings in during a custody battle & treated
us like we were her own. I wouldn't trade this lady for the world.
The most important woman in my life is my mother. She has sacrificed so much for our
family by working long hours at a night job & still taking care of her family. She
manages to do all of this while fighting cancer. She is the most incredible woman
My mother has been a huge inspiration to me & many others. She was forced to quit
school at 15 to work & support her family. She met my dad & moved to America. She
completed her Associates Degree & now works as a teacher's assistant. She does things
like providing a winter coat for one of her students who did not have one & could
not afford it. The world is a better place because of my mother.
My mother is a pillar of strength. While raising me & my brother by herself she managed
to reach her goal of becoming a nurse. She takes care of veterans at the VA hospital.
My mother is my role model. She has been working in the same job since she was 17
years old. She started working at McDonalds as a crew member & now at the age of 48
she is working as an Operations Director for the corporate office. This reminds me
that no matter what you set your mind to you can accomplish anything.
There was a time in my life when I didn't really know who I was, but I walked into
my tenth grade math class & met Mrs. B. She was the one I went to when I had family
problems or just needed a shoulder to cry on. When I started to give up on myself
she brought me back. She is a real inspiration.
Suzanne is my stepmother. She has no real reason to do the things she does, but she
has truly been a mother figure in my life. She has three sons of her own & even adopted
two girls. It is because of her or house is a home.
There is one person I know that greatly makes a difference & her name is Melanie.
She is a 40 year old waitress where I work & has a huge heart. She encourages everyone
she encounters to appreciate our troops. Her son is one of them. She knows & fears
that he might get hurt, but she continues to smile & make a difference in others'
I come from Ethiopia where life is a day-to-day struggle & women depend on men to
live. My father was a political prisoner for 19 years. Stigma for a woman with a husband
in prison is high & my family lived in extreme poverty. My mother had no community
support. She raised two boys alone. She has proven her strength & character. She always
tells me & my brother that I will be a doctor & he will be an engineer. My brother
is now a mechanical engineer & I am pursing a Doctorate in African Studies. I hope
to keep her & my dream alive!
I am honoring my one & only sister because she managed to make the Dean's List at
TSU, which no one thought was possible due to her dark & tragic past. She has always
been there for me for anything I needed.
One of the most important people in my life is my Grandmother. Since my mom was a
single parent she was basically my dad. She always provided me with wisdom & a life
experience story. She encouraged me to be everything I can be.
My preacher's wife from Mississippi was a very strong woman. She loved people & educating
the younger people at our church. Although she passed away she left her name in so
many different people's hearts.
My partner Kayla is the greatest & most influential person in my life. She has not
only supported me in every way, but is forging her own bright future in neuropsychology.
She is getting her master's degree in Baltimore & she is the leading author on studies
regarding PTSD therapy in her department, working closely with professionals of high
esteem. I am graced to call my partner the woman who has inspired me to be a better
I was born to two teenage parents. To allow both of my parents to go to college &
build a life my great grandmother decided to raise me. She also raised herself & her
siblings in a small town in Mississippi. She married & raised her own kids & even
though her oldest son died & her husband passed away early on she never complained.
She raised all her kids & their kids & beat a battle with cancer. She is my inspiration
As an undergraduate I was lost. I was supposed to pick a major, know what I wanted
to study. My advisor was the person I turned to for help. She encouraged my curiosity,
supported my decisions, & eventually became my mentor. Because of her, I continued
to further my interests & my education—leading me to the Master's degree I am earning