Stepping into the lives of historical women

Learn more about the 'Hidden Figures' living wax museum

In support of Women’s History Month, the Office of Multicultural Student Services brought important women to life during the living wax museum.

At the David Eisler Center in room 217 at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, March 28, the “Hidden Figures” living wax museum opened its doors to the Ferris community. The event itself is not a new idea, in years past the event has been held virtually due to COVID-19 restrictions. This year the OMSS was able to host the event in person for a more one-on-one experience.

With the help of students and staff, the audience was able to go around the room from actor to actor and hear about the important women of history. A few of the wax figures even had props to add more realism to the event. The room was full of support from the audience, who took pictures of the actors while cheering them on during their speeches.

Fourth year sports communications major Isaias Rivera was one of the first to arrive at the event. He decided to attend to show his support for Women’s History Month and the OMSS. Rivera is also the president of Ferris’ chapter of Sigma Lamba Beta, Inc. He feels the OMSS has provided their fraternity with many resources and has welcomed them with “open arms.”

“History is always going to be there, so why bury it? I think it’s important to know where people came from [starting with] humble beginnings to learn more and educate yourself,” Rivera said.

While the audience members made their laps around the event, actresses spent time reciting their speeches about these influential women that are frequently mentioned in history lessons.

Healthcare administration and biology junior Nina King-Barber played the role of Dorothy Vaughan. Her speech discussed how Vaughan was one of the first African American women to work for NASA. Her speech highlighted Vaughan’s achievements, including her management position at NASA.

“I relate to [Vaughan] in many ways,” King-Barber said. “From being a person of color, to knowing what it’s like to be the only… person of color in a room full of all white men.”

During her speech, King-Barber put a heavy emphasis on the fact that all of Vaughan’s achievements and contributions to NASA went unrecognized until after she passed away in 2008. And even then she wasn’t well known to the public until the movie “Hidden Figures” came out in 2016.

“For her in the 1950s and 1960s to not only be giving her opinion but also not feel respected and valued for those opinions,” King-Barber said. “If it would’ve been a white male or even a white woman it would have been taken more seriously.”

Dental hygiene and Spanish senior Alondra Campos was inspired to join this event as a way to raise awareness in the Ferris community. Campos played the role of Sylvia Mendez, an American civil rights activist of Mexican and Puerto Rican descent. 

“I come from a Latina background who also came from a lower income household,” Campos said. “The struggles her family went through to support themselves reminds me a lot of what my mother had to do to support us.”

Campos feels that sharing Mendez’s story is incredibly important.

“Sylvia’s story is very impactful and most definitely helped pave the way to end segregation in schools, which is why we are so fortunate to be able to have the same equal opportunity to attend any school no matter what color your skin is,” Campos said.

As a representative of the Gamma Phi Omega International Sorority, Inc., she focuses on advocating for cultural representation and diversity awareness. Campos is also proud to say that Mendez is an honorary member of Gamma Phi Omega International Sorority, Inc.

For Campos, the real value comes from sharing these stories because of the impact they have had.

“Everyone has a story, but these individuals represent more than just their story,” Campos said. “Their actions helped create change and to honor diversity, inclusion and equity. Each of these women has left such an impactful imprint that paved the way for future leaders and hope in society.”