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FLC celebrates Women's History Month
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FLC celebrates Women's History Month

In March, FLC celebrated the women leaders of campus. They shared stories of the women who have inspired them and what they hope for the future.

Megan Wrona, Assistant Professor of Psychology

"My background is in clinical and counseling psychology. I'm a clinician by training, that's what I was doing before I came to Fort Lewis."

The most influential woman you know? How does she inspire you?

"She (Devon Musson Rose) is one of my close friends. She embodies authenticity, empathy, care. I see her as a model for me and my own parenting, the way that she works with her children and really is able to support and nurture them in ways that I think are tremendous. She is also the clinical director for YWCA of Salt Lake City and oversees the domestic violence center and programs in Salt Lake County. The balance of how she does that difficult work, and still maintains the other pieces of her life. That balance is difficult for other women to strike, and she somehow makes it look easy."

Do you think women are underrepresented in any aspects of modern American life?

"I think there's a lot of underrepresentation across the board. But, I think one of the biggest places where we see this is in leadership. Leadership across the board - with politics, business, academia. Specifically in psychology, we have a higher number of women receiving Ph.D.s in psychology than men, yet we're still underrepresented in tenure track jobs in academia, and so I think we have a disconnect of how we elevate women and how we ensure that we get that leadership, I think it's important to have the voices of women in leadership."

In what areas do you believe women are still undervalued and underappreciated?

"The notion of carrying a pretty strong mental load. For me, as a relatively new parent, and I look at the divide and equity within households and we see a higher rate of men being active and involved with parenting much more so that we've had historically. But, the mental load and background stuff tends to fall a lot more on women. So the exhausting pieces of both parenting and other aspects of our life really crowd in the brain and having women take on these other roles that can exhaust us and wear us out a bit more."

Amy Wendland, Professor of Art & Design

"I am a former commercial artist. I worked for a decade doing everything from book covers, museum exhibits, court exhibits, editorial illustrations, logo designs, and things like that before I went to graduate school and became an art professor."

Who is the most influential woman you know and how does she inspire you?

"I struggled with this question. So first I started thinking women in academia, and professors. I've been to three colleges, I have a bachelor's and two separate master's degrees, and I could only think of two female professors I had between all three colleges. One of them I didn't get on with very much, and the other was great, but I only took one class from her. So, I started thinking hard about, 'who actually really did inspire me?' Well, my mom of course naturally - she taught me there's greatness in service and you shouldn't be focused on yourself and the world doesn't revolve around you. My aunt taught me that it's not only okay to be angry, sometimes it's appropriate to be angry. My older sister taught me how to rebel, but how to rebel in a smart way. My little sister taught me how to re-invent your life and become the person you want to be. A good friend of mine taught me taught me about confidence and accepting who you are and making the most of your gifts. Another friend of mine, who passed many years ago, made a profound impression on me, she said 'stop apologizing for who you are, stop apologizing for existing, for taking up space. You are who you are, you have a right to exist." and those have really been big influences in my life."

Do you think women are underrepresented in any aspects of modern American life?

"Absolutely, you could write entire books on that question. So, I'm only going to cover one aspect of it, and that's the fine art world, cause that's the world I exist in now. I read an NPR article, January 24th of this year, so it's pretty current, of the sales of work by female artists represents just 2% of the market in the big auction house scene. Most art museums, when you analyze their collection, pretty much the top number of artists they have is maybe 4% of their collection. Sales by female artists, their work sells for 40% less than sales by male artists. That little tiny 2%, of that small percent, about half of that market is dominated by five superstar female artists. So, it's not even a broad range within that 2%. It bothers me that gender becomes an overlay on top of something that is essentially genderless. I don't think of myself as a female artist, I think of myself as a artist, it is what it is."

If you had to name one famous woman figure that has influenced your life today, who would it be? Why?

"I love this question. Beatrix Potter, the illustrator who wrote 'The Tale of Peter Rabbit.' She lived from the middle of the 1800s to the early-middle of the 1900s. I bet you don't know this, but she was absolutely obsessed with lichens. In fact, she was completely obsessed with mycology and fungi in general. So, in her twenties, she obsessively painted and drew mushrooms. She just loved them, she studied them quite a bit, she read all the scientific journals. She actually wrote a paper that posited that lichens were not plants, just like mushrooms are not plants. I know that sounds a little strange, buy they are their own classification. In fact, lichens are a combination between algae and mushrooms basically. So, she wrote this paper when she was in her early thirties, it was 1897. It was this groundbreaking paper, she submits it to the Linnean Society in London, and they promptly say, '#1 We don't take work from women, #2 Really? Lichens aren't even a plant? What are you talking about? They're this hybrid thing? This is ridiculous.' They not only wouldn't consider her paper, they threw it out completely. So, she picks herself up, dusts herself off and writes a children's book - tries to get it published, nobody wants to publish it. So she says 'Fine, I'll publish it myself.' She self-published, of course, it was a smash hit, it turns out she was just as good a business woman as she was a scientist and an illustrator, and she did quite well for herself. More importantly, she had always said, 'I don't see that science and art are mutually exclusive activities' and this is something that's very dear to my heart because I concentrate a lot on scientific subject matter in my artwork. So she said, 'if I can't do this paper, I can inspire young people to have this love of nature and to have keen observation of the outdoors of animals and plants' and so, she accomplished her goal just in a different way and that's really inspiring."

Kassy Carrasco, Interim Coordinator El Centro de Muchos Colores

"I was born in Chihuahua, Mexico but raised in Phoenix, Arizona. Most of my college career was spent in Flagstaff, Arizona. However, I decided to move to Colorado to escape the political rhetoric of Arizona."

What are some of the biggest challenges women face today? Do you think these will change in the near future?

"I think one of the biggest challenges women face today is motherhood vs. career opportunities. For a variety of reasons, I think one is, you are told as a women 'You are too young to have kids, focus on a career,' 'You're getting too old, you need to start thinking about having kids, but, only take 12 weeks off if you want to have a career when you return,' 'I cannot believe as a mother, you choose a career rather than your children.' So, whether this will be fixed in the future? I hope so. I believe that working mothers should have the opportunity to maximize their motherhood while still having the opportunity to advance their careers when they return back from maternity leave."

What are your thoughts on the portrayal of women in today's society, including but not limited to, sports at higher levels, women in academia, or women in any specific industry?

"I believe that women portrayal in any area, whether it's sports, academia, business - it's really expected from society that we look a certain way. I saw that mainly when I was in high school and played sports. I found it very odd that all the girls would wear makeup. Whether you're playing soccer, basketball, tennis, softball, here in the dirt. It frustrated me a little because, it's not like we asked men to sharpen up their facial hair to perform better on the field. I think that society likes to associate the way a woman looks based on whether they'll be able to perform their job or the tasks that they're given to into their career field, when in reality what we need to start looking into in society is what women have in their minds and heart. So, I do think there is a visual representation of how women need to look to carry on or perform a job."

Why do you think it's important to recognize and explore women's history?

"Exploring and recognizing Women's History Month is vital to the progression of our society. I believe that there are a lot of women that are still under-represented. Women just got the right to vote not that long ago, and to this day, still women specific of color struggle to have the right to vote.

Tarecka Payne, Student Union Productions Coordinator

"I'm responsible for major and weekly programming, anything from homecoming to orientation to graduation, I assist with it all."

Do you think women are underrepresented in any aspects of modern American life?

"Yes, women are still trying to break that glass ceiling and be represented in different facets. My best friend who is a big icon for me, works in the gaming and design industry, and she's the only female on her team. I think that the way we're portrayed in films, there are a lot of White women in films, but seeing big roles played by Asian women, Black women, Hispanic women, I'd like to see more of that."

Who is the most influential women you know and how does she inspire you?

"It's my mother. She retired from the military after serving 26 years. Even though she retired, she makes it a point to still work and she loves to substitute teach and teach children about the things she was passionate about, being math and literature. I think that every day she makes it a point to try and touch somebody's life, whether that's, working with children, volunteering, and still helping out the military where she can, soldiers who are injured and just coming home. I think that's what's really inspirational, no matter how old she gets, no matter that she's retired, she always has that sense to give."

Why is it important to recognize and explore women's history?

"I think it's important because women are a big part of American history. We've effected the constitution, we are a big part of the household, we raise families that go on to be our leaders. We are leaders, we are mothers, we are sisters, friends, doctors, scientists, educators. We are so much, and it's good to know what that so much entails."

Sarah Flower, KDUR Office Manager, 2005 FLC Alumna

In what areas do you believe women are still undervalued and under-appreciated in today's society?

"Where I work in broadcasting. KDUR focuses a lot on music, but I think giving female broadcasters a voice that is trusted and to be a part of this community is huge. I really value that here at KDUR, we give a voice for more women than any other broadcasting institution in the Four Corners region. Whether it's a native student here on campus, or an Alumna that's hosting a 'Soul & Funk' program from 6-8am. I really feel like women need a stronger voice, and here at KDUR it's something that we do better than anyone else. To find their voice and confidence on air is something that is undervalued, but valued here at KDUR."

If you had to name one famous woman figure that has influenced your life today, who would it be? Why?

"Famous or infamous, my mom. She has paved the way for who I am and has given me the strength and courage to find my voice, even when she was mortified of me using it. But also, I think of women in history, present time, would be the journalist, Maria Hinojosa who is with Latino USA. She has persevered through so much in journalism - a women that has really found her voice, and woman of color, Spanish speaking native. Her story is relentless, and I appreciate all that she has done for women in media, and Latina women in particular."

Why is it important to recognize and explore women's history?

"I think it's time for white men to pass the torch and to give other people an opportunity to shine. Just because you're not in the spotlight anymore, doesn't mean you don't matter, it just means that it's somebody else's turn to pave the way. To highlight that on so many levels is important to see and to be represented more than your straight-white man. It's time for a new face and a new voice."

Missy Thompson, Assistant Professor of Health Sciences and Coordinator of Undergraduate Research & Creative Activities

What are your thoughts on the portrayal of women in today's society, including, but not limited to sports at a higher level, women in academia, or women in any specific industry?

"I think women are definitely moving their way up into areas that they weren't historically part of. We see that sports and academia, it's a challenge to get into those roles and we are starting to see women being in these positions. I think it's getting the ball rolling, and we'll continue to see more. But I think we really need to look at women being capable of these roles and to see that they can bring unique perspective to those positions as well."

Do you think women are underrepresented in any aspects of modern American life?

"Yeah, I think government is probably one of the biggest ones. I think we've seen a huge change in women taking government roles, and the Senate is huge one right now. I think it's an area that is traditionally male, and traditionally white-male, I think it's neat seeing the perspectives that women have brought to government and I think we'll continue to see that happen, it's just the tip of the iceberg."

Why is it important to recognize and explore women's history?

"I think to really see where you're going, you need to see where you have been. So, being able to understand  the challenges they have faced and what they've overcome, it helps women of today see what's capable of the future. It's an important topic that we need to consider."

Lindsay Nyquist, Director of Marketing & Communications

"I'm super passionate about my job, whether it's promoting FLC to prospective students, getting to work with student interns, or just helping elevate everything that students and faculty are doing across campus."

Most influential women you know and how does she inspire you?

"I'm really inspired by my mom. She was faculty at VIrginia Tech in the world of Animal Science and Companion Animals, and she really inspired me from a young age by setting a role model for me as a working woman. She always worked in the Science and Tech fields, which in her time were very underrepresented by females and I think she always had to work twice as hard and push herself for equality and respect in her field. She did some amazing things and that was the role model I had everyday and it pushed me to want to excel, want to work in a higher education atmosphere, and to always push for equality."

Biggest challenges women face today? Do you think these will change in the near future?

"Some of the biggest challenges women face today are work/life balance. I've read studies that that's something women always strive to, where as men, if they're happy in their work, then that work/life balances just follows naturally. I think women, whether they have children at home, or not, are always trying to balance those two pieces. In addition to that, I think women also take on a lot of extra roles in the workplace, to do things that are considered "housekeeping" types of things, whether thats; bringing food to a meeting, or cleaning up a common area, those areas naturally fall to women as well. So in addition, I think women who are leaders really struggle to have that leading personality but also to keep everything else running as well. It's kind of challenging to balance those two sides. So, I don't know if that will change, I think a lot of studies are being done about it, and a lot of awareness is being made of it, but overall I think thats something that women really work on."

In what areas are women undervalued and underappreciated?

"I think the equity pay gap is still a huge issue for women. I really encourage the young women I work with, either as my students, or my interns, to really push for asking for equal pay or asking for raises, it's a very hard thing to do. Once you start doing it, it gets easier everyday. I think that so much can come from that and women need to have that confidence that they are just as good at this job as their other counter-parts, an really push to get that equal representation on their paycheck."

Jennifer Wagnon, Director of TRIO Student Success Center

"I work for the TRIO Student Success Center at FLC. It is 1 of 4 TRIO programs at Fort Lewis. We all serve low-income students, students whose parents don't have college degrees, and students who are working with disabilities. We make sure they are getting the support that they need to stay in school and graduate. I've been with them since 2001 and before that I was a FLC student studying geology. I've been on campus in some form or another since 1996, so this is home."

Who is the most influential women you know and how does she inspire you?

"At least once a day I think to myself 'How would my sister-in-law Nan handle this situation?' When she was 19 she moved from New Jersey to Italy, and that was during a time when young women didn't go that far by themselves without a lot of permission. So she moved there on her own, made a life there, adopted the culture as her own, and raised a very strong loving family. She's been through a lot, she has dealt with a lot of struggle and heartbreak. But, she seems to deal with it in stride with gratitude and grace. She focuses on the positive things, she isn't one to complain very much, she doesn't talk badly about other people, and she really seems to keep an optimistic outlook on things. So, with as much as she's been through I really appreciate her outlook and try to adopt it as much as I can."

If you had to name one famous woman figure that has influenced your life today, who would it be? Why?

"I was raised by a single mom, so aside from her I was also raised by TV in the 80s. So, I would say that I adopted a lot of traits from an amalgamation of TV moms in the 80s to make me part of the women I am today. So, 'Mrs. Huxtable' from 'The Cosby Show,' she taught me that women could be lawyers. 'Murphy Brown' took charge and kicked butt. 'Designing Women' and 'Golden Girls' were all about teamwork and supporting each other. 'Alice' and 'One Day at a Time' were all about raising kids on their own. So, I took the best parts of fictional TV moms and decided that those things could happen in my life too."

What are some of the biggest challenges women face today? Do you think these will change in the near future?

"I think some of the biggest challenges women face today are in the world of politics and government office. I think women get a lot of pressure put on them to be everything to everybody. When they're not, they won't get votes. So, women have to be strong but sensitive, they have to be smart but not condescending or threatening, they have to be gentile but also tactful. They get a lot of pressure for not being everything. They have to be conventionally pretty but not over-the-top distracting. They get feedback and judgement on just about every decision they make. I feel that women deal with that more than men, because when men have short-comings, especially in political office, we kind of just shrug that off as 'eh, that's not who they are.' But women get judged for the tone of their voice, and how 'I just don't think she'd be nice, I don't think I'd like to hangout with her." So, I hope that'll change in the near future and I think the more women who get into political office, especially women from minorities and from under-privileged parts of society, they can be representing more, and people will hear their voice and their message, instead of just seeing what they see."

Heidi Steltzer, Professor of Environment & Sustainability and Biology

"I study the mountains. So, FLC was the perfect place for me to come and be a professor. We're in the San Juan Mountains and it's one of the most understudied parts of the mountains of the West in the US. I teach Environmental Science, I am the coordinator for the Environmental Science program, and I am a biologist as well and I study where and how mountain plants respond to climate change and if that changes how much water is in rivers."

What are your thoughts on the portrayal of women in today's society, including but not limited to, sports at higher levels, women in academia, etc?

"Well I'll go for mountain and earth science since that's the area that I have expertise in. I think we can see more and more women in those spaces than there used to be. When I was in undergrad, I didn't take a single class from a female faculty and I often have students say, 'It's so awesome to meet you and know that you're doing this.' I think we still have some of those expectations that it might not be a woman who studies mountain tops, then they meet me and they're like 'Oh! Ok!" One piece of that, is it's still many of the women who do mountain science are White. So, we still don't have much diversity, and diverse identities in that space."

In what areas do you believe women are still under-valued and under-appreciated?

"In all the places. It's in home-life, the work we do, and our capacity as leaders is I think one of the areas that women are most undervalued. That's because we've presented some images of leaders in our world as being the people who engage in conflict, who have egos, who seek power, and when you look at characteristics and personalities of women, women lead in a different way, and they are as good leaders they just lead differently. So, they focus more on, 'How can I lead from behind? How can we contribute to non-hierarchical approaches to leadership? How can we build teams where everyone is valued and we collaborate?' and all of those are just as important leadership skills, if not more important than the ones that are stereotypical areas of leadership."

If you had to name one famous woman figure that has influenced your life today, who would it be? Why?

"Some of the people I most admire are the people that I know best, and they're my colleagues. So, it's Becky Clausen, Keri Brandt, and colleagues across diverse departments, Julie Korb, and having the opportunity to engage with someone creates new ways that we can admire them, in a way that we can't necessarily understand someone that's famous even if we read their biography."

Mimi Gates, counselor with the Counseling Center

"From student to staff, I’ve been blessed to be in our FLC Community since 2002, and have worked in the FLC Counseling Center for almost ten years."

Who is the most influential women you know and how does she inspire you?

"Any woman walking an unapologetic authentic walk deeply impacts and inspires me. I’ve been participating in various women’s circles since the late 80s, so I have been surrounded for years by inspiring women and humans seeking to walk an authentic, empowered walk. My passion and capabilities lie in individual and group work to empower women—to shed the layers- the roles, the masks, the survival strategies- and dare to be our most authentic, empowered selves. I invite women to evaluate how supportive we are of one another. Are we the competition or Compadres on a shared supportive path? Sound bites may indicate sisterhood yet sometimes I question if our words and actions are truly congruent. This changes when we are vulnerable together-- truly see, hear and know one another. With all our different passions, professions, perspectives, and bodies may we please always lift each other up."

If you had to name one famous woman figure that has influenced your life today, who would it be? Why?

"Helen Keller was an inspiration, a powerhouse, an activist and lived boldly. As a child, she unconsciously gave me hope… what will be the Water that frees me from my darkness? There is purpose in our darkest times, and when we can hold that truth, which I do viscerally, then we always have hope."

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