Celebrating the Women Who Made Me
It’s March. It’s Women’s History Month. And when we began discussing fabulous historical females here at #AIBC, I kept hitting walls. I was never that great at historical timelines and dates… I cannot tell you who the 17th President of the United States (or any of the others for that matter) was. I’m better at recognizing the voice of a singer about 10 seconds into a song. But I CAN remember the women who have made a difference in my history so far, and today I would like to thank them.
It is cliche to start with my mother, so I won’t go into great detail, but she is obviously where I began. She is the source of my kindness, my compassion, my deep rooted desire to give back and help others, my sense of family, and an amazing example of being the glue that holds everything together. It goes without saying that she should be mentioned, but she deserves an eternity of recognition and celebration all her own. So I will move on for now.
The single event that will forever shape my life? As a child, I had cancer.
Dr. Judy Ochs was my pediatric oncologist when I was a patient at St. Jude. She is the reason I wanted to enter health care, from a very young age. She gave me the stethoscope off her neck and told me I could be a doctor when I grew up. She was brilliant, kind, and loving. If I could reach out and connect with her today, I would not even begin to know how to thank her. She was part of the team that fought to give me a future. You can’t make much more of an investment in someone. I owe her a great deal.
The most formative years for a person are their school years. The list of amazing females I encountered along the way is long. Miss Lyle was was the first teacher I ever had. Kindergarten. I could read, say the ABC’s – she loved me and I was officially enamoured with being the teacher’s pet. I may not remember why, or what made me stand out to her, but she always supported me, and throughout my life she would brag about how fantastic I was. That does wonders for a girl’s self esteem. Especially when said girl has zero self confidence, and gets picked on quite frequently. For seeing something great in me, I would like to thank her.
Mrs. Linda Arant kindled my love for music and to this day that carries over into every aspect of my life. Mrs. Sarah Love encouraged me to excell at everything I could get my hands on. I still try to do it all. Sometimes that is hard, but I thrive under pressure and I truly thank her for showing me I could do anything. Mrs. Pam Shelton taught me how to type fast and blessed me with the invaluable etiquette skills I still reference to this very day. In addition, she was strong-willed and never took no for an answer. When she believed in something, by damn it was going to be a success. Ms. Carrie Boykin was the popular teacher in our high school. I could never really tell if she liked me, but that kept me on my toes. She dealt out the tough love with directness. I definitely wasn’t teacher’s pet, and she helped me develop a thick skin and a sense of independence while somehow influencing my future career path. Carrie taught me to fight for the things I wanted to achieve because they sure as hell were not going to be handed to me. For that, I am grateful.
Mississippi University for Women. There were so many influential encounters with fantastic women in college. I cannot list them all or I would be writing for days. Classmates, professors, friends…but heads and shoulders above most are the women of the Highlander and BlackList Social Clubs. These are the sisters I never had, the friends that last the rest of your lifetime, the people that rush to your side when you are in need and when you are celebrating life’s successes, these women are my family. The connections with all of the incredible women I met along the way are literally still a part of my life every single day – I truly am the person I am today because I was a W Girl.
Female Scientists in the Laboratory. Lynn Ingram, Jackie Li, and Donna Patterson… These women have shaped me more than they will ever know. Tough love, directness, honesty, compassion, and true friendship are the commonalities among the three, but each of them are special to me in very different ways. Lynn took me under her wing and gave me every opportunity for professional growth and development I could have ever imagined while also becoming like a mother to me. I can rely on her to call me out when I am getting out of line. Jackie Li is brilliant, a very hard worker, dedicated to being a good steward and providing quality patient care while also maintaining a very high level of professionalism. The day she told me that I reminded her of herself, I knew she was invested in helping me be the best I could be, and she has pushed me more than any manager or supervisor ever has before. I have learned so much from her. Donna Patterson amazes me daily, and I am so lucky to have the opportunity to learn from her and grow as a leader in my profession. She balances work and life better than anyone I have ever known, but she does not miss a beat in the process. She knows everything going on in our department every minute while still being willing to take the time to give me advice and answer the smallest quetions. I can only hope to be like Donna when I grow up.
I have missed many women in this post because there is no way to mention them all. However, I would like to challenge you to think about the women that have played a role in your life. How did they each shape you? How did they help you to succeed? Did they make you the person you are today?
Happy Women’s History Month! Try to celebrate the women that are important to you everyday — you don’t need anyone’s permission to do so!