EDITOR’S COLUMN: Celebrating the influential women in my life

It’s difficult to find the right words to express the meaning of being a woman.

But as I sit here on Monday, it’s March 8 – International Women’s Day, one of the best days of the year. It’s a day we celebrate all that it means to each one of us to be a woman – I spend time reflecting on what I love about women and the women who influenced
who I am today.

One of the reasons it’s hard to fully convey the totality of what it means to be a woman is because with all our empowerment, there is an equal amount of challenges. With all the inspiration, there is adversity; with all the beauty, there is pain.

To me, to be a woman is to show your strength with grace and poise. To be a woman is to support other women and know we have each other’s backs. To be a woman is to have the empathy to stand up for what’s right, even when the issue doesn’t directly impact us.

These qualities are ones I learned from incredible women I have interacted with or watched growing up. In honor of International Women’s Day, I am going to pick a few women to talk about who are role models to me, even though the list is endless.

Graphic by: Charlie Zitta | Production Manager

Let’s start off with someone who is completely unsurprising to see on this list if you know me: Megan Rapinoe.

I still remember the exact moment I became a huge U.S. Women’s Soccer fan. It was the 2011 World Cup and the USWNT lost in a heart breaker to Japan in the finals. It was the first moment 12-year-old Cora felt so much emotion for a team. Then, the next year at the 2012 Olympics, I avidly watched every women’s soccer game and there was just something about Megan Rapinoe.

I loved the way she played. Her performance against Canada in the semi-finals with two game-equalizing goals is one I’ll never forget. Now, she has become a role model in so many other ways. She was one of the only athletes to kneel in solidarity with Colin Kaepernick in 2016. Her activism and voice has been so influential and inspiring ever since. She made a statement that it’s important to stand (or kneel) for what you believe in, even if you’re one of the only ones.

The next woman on this list may also seem obvious: Rosa Parks. Growing up, I always had an appreciation and sort of awe for Parks. But this admiration became even stronger after sitting on a zoom call with John Matlock, one of our alumni who worked with Parks at the office of U.S. Representative John Conyers of Detroit. Matlock told us about Parks asking if she could take a day off work, and her unwavering belief that social change is a lifelong commitment.

It’s a belief that I carry with me now, and it has brought me more clarity on my role as a journalist and in my everyday life. This past year has brought a lot of attention to social change, but a true commitment is lifelong and it’s integrated into the way you live your life.

My next inspirational woman is Patsy Mink, a third-generation Japanese-American woman from Hawaii. She was a co-author of Title IX legislation as a U.S. representative in Congress. She was also the first woman of color elected to the U.S. House of Representatives and her career spanned 1964 to 1977 and 1990 to 2002. A leaflet from her 1977 campaign says, “I have been guided by a single principle: That everyone – rich or poor, powerful or weak – should get fair and equal treatment from government.”

She was someone who put her words into action. Title IX ensured that any sex-based discrimination was eliminated from educational settings and advanced women’s sports at the college level. It forced universities to create policies for reporting sexual
discrimination and harassment.

It leveled the playing field for women to pursue any degree they wanted. When Title IX was signed into legislation in 1972, women only completed 7% of law degrees and 9% of medical degrees, according to the U.S. Department of Education. In 2017, the American Bar Association saw women making up 51.3% of all law students. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, women made up 50.5% of all medical
school students in 2019.

Finally, my role models since I was born: my mother and grandmothers. I grew up watching these incredible women make sacrifices for our family to give us as much as they could. They instilled a work ethic in me that serves me to this day. They have shown me unconditional love and support and made every effort to help me succeed and achieve my goals. I learned from them what it means to be a mother and how to help lead a family. I consider myself incredibly lucky to have every
one of them in my life.

All of these women and more are people I look up to and deeply admire. Regardless of whether they played a very involved part in my life, they were women who paved the way before me or were role models from afar. I will carry lessons learned from them wherever I go for the rest of my life.