On March 8th we celebrated International Women’s Day, a day to celebrate the strong, amazing women who have made this world as it is. To the women before us who blazed the trail so we could achieve the goals and dreams we have and to the women today fighting so the girls we are raising can have even more than we have.
On this day I thought I’d honor a few women who have modeled and shaped me into who I am today:A feisty woman who found herself a single mom in the 1950s on the island of Puerto Rico. When her sister suggested she act as the baby’s aunt and let her raise it so it won’t “suffer the fate of being a bastard”, my grandmother took her baby and her 4th grade education, and jumped on a plane to New York not knowing a word of English. She learned through night classes, worked in various garment factories, and raised my father by herself, playing the role of mom and dad.
After an emotional setback in her home country of Honduras she came to the US to work as a companion and get some time to find herself. Instead she found my navy dad, married him, and settled into this new country she never imagined she’s make her home. She taught herself the language, found a job, and became a tireless advocate for her children in the schools, making sure they were always getting what they needed in a school district that was subpar for the state. When even my teachers were trying to discourage me from applying to the Ivy Leagues, my mother was behind me making sure I had the recourses and support I needed to apply, get accepted and ultimately succeed in graduating from the prestigious Dartmouth College.As a child, we did so much together, sharing almost every class, and then talking for hours after school as well. I never knew or appreciated her strength until we got older. Until we were both married with children, that I understood the depth of the love she had for her children, and how hard it was to raise them and have fulfilling work. Then her true strength really came out when she was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Believe it or not, that was the moment when she really shined, using what time she had left to volunteer at the local store for breast cancer patients, and write her own blog, On Beyond Cancer to educate those living with metastatic breast cancer. When she passed away, a little light in this world extinguished forever. R and I met our first day at Dartmouth when we were assigned to dorms directly across from each other. We shared so much, including both having to fight to be in the position we were in. R has grown up to be a lawyer in a prestigious law firm, and one of the first in her firm to have not one but two children while attempting to reach partner. She is one of the best of her class, and continues to challenge the idea of what a successful path to partner is every day.
E and I met shortly after we both started at a big financial services firm many moons ago. E was an anomaly to me. She wasn’t about pushing her path on her career but truly embraced being happy in her life and in her life choices. She had done the Peace Corp, come back from a few months in Argentina, eventually left the job to travel the world for over a year searching for her life’s passion. She back in the area now and for that I’m so grateful. But when I get stressed, when I worry about something in my career, I always think about how E would approach the problem and how she would react to the news.
Every day my daughter amazes me. She strong, opinionated, and incredibly smart. I love the strength I see in her and the beauty of her personality radiates through. During the women’s march in January, she made her own sign slogan “Girls are Perfect”. She held up her sign, chanting it loudly, believing it with every chord in her being. She is one of my greatest achievements and I can’t wait to see what she does in this world.
There are many more, too many to name one by one in this blog post. But they all shape me, feed my soul, and provide me with the strength I need to continue to push myself in my chosen field and in my life choices. I hope that I in turn can inspire and feed them and more women. Because when women help and support each other, the world is a better place.