Celebrating Inspiring Women
International Women’s Day 2018
International Women’s Day has been observed since the early 1900’s and is a day for celebrating the achievements of women across the globe. To mark the day we asked some of our students to write about women who have inspired them.
Amber Allen is currently a sophomore psychology major/public leadership minor in the BA/MPP program at the University of Maryland. She is particularly interested in women’s rights and equity in education, and could see herself going into counseling psychology, education, or social justice public policy.
In the Middle
I am inspired by my mother every day. My mother was the fourth of seven children, so she was the “middlest of them all” (as she calls it) and would occasionally be forgotten or mixed up with her other siblings. I think because of her hectic upbringing my mother was instilled with a strong work ethic from a young age.
My mother ran track while simultaneously being a cheerleader and managing the wrestling team in high school, and in college and graduate school she worked full-time. Ultimately, my mother earned her PhD, and she has worked for the public school system for over 20 years now.
Everywhere she goes, she commands respect. People all throughout the school system know who she is and she is known for her many accomplishments and capability. She has been promoted many times over the years and always gets things done.
In addition to raising me, I have two younger sisters. In us, she has instilled her work ethic and the belief that we can do anything. People always tell the three of us that we look just like our mother, and this makes us proud.
Emily Gorey is a sophomore studying Marketing with a heavy concentration in Studio Art at the University of Maryland. She is currently the Baha’i Chair for World Peace’s Marketing Specialist. Emily hopes to connect more of her fellow students to our events to aid in the creation of a more empathetic and aware future generation of leaders.
Comeback Queen: Yayoi Kusama
This time last year, the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington D.C. found itself in possession of daily sold out tickets. The exhibit was a collection of installations from over a lifelong career.
The artist, Yayoi Kusama, who moved from Japan to New York City, was obsessed with the idea of self-obliteration. She desired to be completely consumed by her artwork as a means of recovery from her scarring childhood. This self-obliteration would be responsible for Kusama’s rise in the 1960’s as a renowned avant garde artist. However, it would also serve as the reason she committed herself to a mental hospital from 1977 through today.
Despite her current residency, Kusama has risen from her ashes to again be one of the most well-known and influential living artists. Despite the demons from her youth, despite the dramatic crash of her career, Kusama was able to both successfully revive her mental health and career.
Yayoi Kusama is the embodiment of a strength and determination. She defies ageism through her status as a transformative art figure at the age of 88. Kusama exudes energy through her artwork and persistence to be heard. Kusama is an inspiration for women, artists, and immigrants alike.
Alawi Masud is an undergraduate at the University of Maryland, College Park, studying Government & Politics with a focus in International Relations. He also is currently working as a student intern for our very own Bahá’í Chair for World Peace. Through cooperation, mutual aid, and academic understanding, he perspires to make the world united towards a better future.
A Well Rounded Life
I used to think that you can’t have it all. In order to be successful, you have to be only about work. “Important” things like family, morality, and spirituality only sidetracked you. They were sins in the religion of success. In this church, unhappiness was worship, blessed by the good tidings of money.
My cousin Bushra Apu completely shattered this notion. She showed me that the key to success isn’t pure drive, but balance.
Human beings aren’t supposed to be one dimensional. The curiosity we have denies this possibility from happening. For us to be human we need to facilitate a well rounded life. But with today’s world making time more and more limited every second, I used to think that this notion should be forgotten. It was a former relic of the past.
Yet, I noticed through Bushra Apu that the key to becoming successful is in fact a well rounded life. The reason for her success was because she herself was well rounded: not only did she work incredibly hard, she can easily entertain an room and was a very strong leader.
These traits weren’t born into her, it was due to her prioritizing what was truly important in life: family, morality, and spirituality- the things that I previously considered sins.
For international Women’s Day, I want to thank Bushra Apu for not only inspiring me, but making me a better human being.
Bronwen Schriml is a senior at the University of Maryland, College Park. She is a double major in Geography and Government and Politics with a concentration in International Relations. She is interested in pursuing a career in international relations focusing on women’s issues, the economy, and immigration.
Equality and Freedom: Josephine Baker
Josephine Baker is a famous French dancer who grew up in Arkansas in the early 20th century. She started her career through Vaudeville productions and then traveled around the world with other troops performing comedic skits, before starting her dance career in France. S
he became immensely famous in France in the 1920s and was one of France’s highest paid performers. In France, she experienced significantly less discrimination than in the United States and was given an equal status to white performers.
She is inspirational to me because of her commitment to equality and freedom. When she toured in the United States, she ensured that the audience was completely integrated so that all could see her performances.
During WWII, she worked for the French resistance and used her performances and sheet music as a means of communication between resistance members across France. She later received France’s two highest civilian honors for her work, the Croix de Guerre and the Legion of Honour.
Lastly, she adopted children from different areas of the world and created her ‘Rainbow Tribe’ to show that people from different races and backgrounds can live together.
She is a truly inspiration woman as she stuck with her morals through her whole life and was unwavering in her defense of them. For example, while eating dinner in the United States, her French husband was served but she was not. She waited hours for her food and demanded she be served.
Josephine Baker took her passion for equality and freedom into both her personal and professional life and fought for a better, more equal future.
Ashli Taylor is a senior Government & Politics major at the University of Maryland. She has been interning with the Bahá’í Chair for World Peace for almost three years now. After graduating, Ms. Taylor will be attending Law School later this year.
Poise and Grace
With international Women’s Day being today there is no better person than I can think of to dedicate this blog to other than my mother. My mom grew up in extremely poor town in southern Ohio called Portsmouth, but she never let any of her misfortunes hold her back from what she truly wanted in life.
My mom found a way out of her desolate town through the military and eventually graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University with a bachelor ‘s of science in Nursing. My mom served in United States Army for 20 years and with that being said I grew up in a very military structured household, which has instilled values that I hold very dear.
I am very proud of my mother and I am even more thankful for all the effort that she put in so that I was able to flourish. I know without a doubt that I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for my mom. She has showed me that beauty and peace come in a variety of forms, and that everyone has the potential to accomplish greatness.
Being in the military, my mom has witnessed things that most civilians couldn’t even imagine and yet, every day she finds the strength to carry herself with poise and grace. When I grow up if I could just be a fraction of what my mom is I’ll be satisfied with myself.
Dinali Weeraman is an undergraduate at the University of Maryland, College Park. She studies Government and Politics with a minor in Public Policy. She is interested in international and domestic relations, communication, and law. She hopes to one day go to law school and make a difference somewhere.
Sacrifice and Success
Most people when asked who their inspiration is, respond with the name of someone famous. My source of inspiration comes from none other than my mother. She has been the greatest inspiration in my life and is the reason why I am the person who I am today. Growing up, I know I wasn’t the best daughter in the world, but if you were to ask her, she would say otherwise.
My mother was born and raised in Sri Lanka, but shortly after getting married she did something that many would not have the courage to do. She moved to an unfamiliar country, the United States, and left behind all familiarity. She made the ultimate sacrifice so her future unborn children could have a life with plenty of opportunities.
On top of raising me and my younger siblings, she took night classes to further her education. From late nights, hard work and determination my mom has become the successful person she is today. Watching her study in the living room for hours at end inspired me to work as hard as she did.
My mother has been there to share both my happiest and saddest memories. She taught me that good things come to those who persevere and work hard towards their goals. She has truly been the most influential person in my life. She is my best friend, my source of inspiration and my mentor. I look up to her with love, trust and pride