Women to Admire
March 7, 2022
In honor of International Women’s Month, I wanted to take a few minutes to talk about women whom I admire. There are many and for a wide variety of reasons. For example, my mother was a feminist in action, but would have cringed at that title. She was the youngest woman in the New Hampshire State Legislature in 1951 and was voted Sweetheart of the House – a designation she did like, but one that makes me cringe. I could list so many other women in my life, or women I see from afar, who have inspired me, but today I want to focus on a group of women whom I inspire me.
This group of women is not what you might think. I’m referring to young women, specifically those who have been in the work force for just a few years and those who are about to enter it. This group of twenty-somethings are a force who will, no doubt, tackle many of our biggest problems. Some will do it on a grant scale while others will do it a little bit at a time.
This group of young women, of which there are some 14 million (based on census data and a little math). I see these young women entering the workforce, far more prepared than my generation was. I see these young women focused on the common good, work-life balance, personal values, but don’t think for a moment that they are not driven. These young women are doing amazing things. Over the past few years, I have had the pleasure of reading applications for a variety of opportunities including the Mandela Washington Fellowship Program, the Nina Henderson Provost Scholars program, and the Drexel University Blue and Gold Fellowships and Graduate Excellence Awards. I am continually blown away when I read the accomplishments of these young women. Some have started nonprofits to fill a need in their communities, they have forged relationships across the world, they advocate for minoritized and marginalized people, they have written books, and the list goes on and on and on. And they have done this despite what is going on in the world around them. Let’s be honest, the future is not all sunshine and giggles. The Pandemic changed everything, and then add in the deaths of George Floyd, Brianna Taylor and so many more, global warming, an assault on truth, a backwards trajectory for women’s rights, inflation, and now we have the threat of war.
I’m sure you’ve heard your parents or other folks fret about their future in the hands of the younger generation. Even now – how many snarky comments have we heard about Millennials? However, there can be no fretting today. Instead of crawling into a hole and waiting for a brighter day, these young women look to the future as communicators, creators, healers, innovators, problem-solvers, negotiators, researchers, strategists, teachers, and thinkers and are committed to making our world better place.
Three cheers for young women! I admire you and you inspire me each day to be the best I can be.
Anne Converse Willkomm
Assistant Dean, Graduate College
Assistant Clinical Professor & Dept. Head, Goodwin College