It was exciting to anticipate a lecture about women in the education place and how to find the Strength through Empowerment to reach the road to “Success.” It was a TRiO lecture/reading in Armitage Hall billed as “Women Empowerment: Stories of Strength, Struggle, and Success.”
They played lots of Alicia Keys songs that seemed very centered on empowering women, such as “Girl on Fire” and “Brand New Me.” Then the lecture started and the excitement faded. There were two alumni and one sophomore undergraduate, all ready to tell us their personal stories.
Ana Rodriguez, the developmental specialist at TRiO, asked the three speakers “What was your biggest obstacle in your college career?” In a nutshell, the answers from the two alumni were: college is hard but I found a good adviser and now I know what I want to do.
Yes, each girl did have a personal problem at home, and it would be difficult to continue an education while dealing with these personal hardships back home. Did going to an advisor help them? They answered with “Figure out what YOU want to do with your life.” and “Pick a major you will enjoy forever.” Julie Lee, the sophomore, said that it’s difficult for her to get involved, but she found her niche in civil service and going abroad through the school during spring break.
But, as a Political Science major, I see statistics like only 20 percent of women hold political seats on Capitol Hill. That women have to show a masculine presence when running for office so that the voters feel competent in her as a leader. That women running for office are less likely to show their family in a campaign ad because it will take away from their campaign. These are Struggles that I see every day going on as a female, and there is plenty more.
These are struggles that I see and they correlate with the lives of young women in college. To overcome these struggles there needs to be empowerment, which comes from looking at ourselves and realizing we have worth.
We are strong and Independent, and that no matter what anybody tells you, you have the ability to make your own path and achieve what you want. This comes from positive influences. We can look at women in office we can even look at Alicia Keys with her “I am women hear me roar” soundtrack “Fire.” Most importantly though it comes from the people we surround ourselves with everyday — friends. family. professors and advisors. These people need to be positive and encouraging to insure that no matter what holds you back there is a way to break free and move forward.
I may have not felt empowered when walking to my car after the lecture but I realized that if you want change and to overcome struggle and oppression no matter your gender, race, or orientation the only way to do it is to realize your own worth. That no matter what happens in our lives we matter, and that there is a way to overcome the obstacle.
TRio is an organization that was built on the foundation of three federal programs geared towards Higher Education their mission “is to provide enhanced academic and other support services to undergraduate students who are low-income, first-generation and students with disabilities.”