Girl power at UT

Jessica Harker, Editor-in-Chief

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Everyone on the University of Toledo campus knows what it’s like to be a freshman. To be alone, and an adult, for the first time in your life. Especially for those of us who moved away from home, because even just a 45-minute distance from your family can feel like oceans. It wasn’t easy for me as a freshman living on campus; I didn’t know anyone and no one knew me. I was afraid of making friends, and constantly worried about how I appeared to others. I was careful about making first impressions and never strayed too far out of my comfort zone.

Then I met a woman named Danielle, who used to work at the Independent Collegian as a million things, but most recently as the general manager. Here was someone I wanted to be like; a strong, confident and beautiful woman who couldn’t be described as anything except as The Boss. It was one of the first times I met anyone in my life who really inspired me to be the best, most ambitious person I could be, so that’s what I started to become.

That was three years ago. Since then I have accomplished so much, and I owe a lot of that to Danielle. But through my years at UT the one thing I have noticed is that we are not short on strong, confident, boss ladies. In fact, I have met more women who are successful in their fields and love their work, while I have been at this university than any other time in my 20 years of existence.

I even got lucky enough to see the induction of the very first female president of UT, Sharon Gaber. Gaber was able to reverse the six-year trend of declining enrollment in her first year, while simultaneously increasing this campus’ diversity efforts and increasing our funding from outside donors. How could anyone not call her a bad ass? And she’s not the only one.

Other examples include Jackie Layng, a professor of communication who designed the current broadcast curriculum that has won national awards, and is the executive producer of UT:10 News; Paulette Kilmer, another professor of communication at UT, who founded the banned book vigil 19 years ago and continues to work to organize the event every year on top of her multitude of publications and professional work; and as well as Senior Vice President for Student Affairs Kaye Patten Wallace who works tirelessly to provide students with everything that they need to achieve their education goals. How could you not be inspired by these women?

Even the Mayor of Toledo, Paula Hicks Hudson, is a true inspiration. These women send the message to every young girl in Toledo, to every struggling college freshman, to everyone that sees them, that you can accomplish anything.

We often find that the balance between successful men and women in any organization, especially an institute of higher learning, is drastically skewed to have a greater number of men. However, the University of Toledo has become a beacon of hope. I encourage all UT students to really pay attention to the amazing women you are surrounded by every day, and to be grateful for the opportunity to study at a University that gives you this opportunity, since so many lack it.

It’s easy to take something for granted that you don’t know others lack, but UT has gone above and beyond to create an environment where anyone, regardless of their sex, can excel. While there is always progress to be made, and I’m sure there still is, I applaud you, UT, and everything that you have taught me. And thank you to all the bad-ass chicks I got to meet along the way; you’ve all truly inspired me.

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Girl power at UT