Perspectives: Women's History Month

 

In 2018, for each heritage & history month, Students United will feature the diverse voices of students from across our seven universities. The opinions reflected are their own.

For Women’s History Month, we asked students what it means to be a woman on campus and what they want the world to know. This is what they said:

 
Sarah

Sarah Ortega

she/her, Winona State University

As a woman, there are many roadblocks I have to overcome. For example, being a leader on campus in positions of authority comes with the stereotype of being a "bitch" or "bossy," while my male identifying counterparts may be viewed as assertive. One thing I wish more people would understand about women's history is the intersectionality of identities and how certain women experience a different history and narrative. As a white, cis woman I acknowledge my privilege and have to check myself often. Being a woman impacts my identity but, because of my privileges, I don't experience as much oppression as some others. That's why it's so important to use my privilege to fight for the greater good.
 
spriha

Spriha

she/her, Bemidji State University

Identifying as a woman in Bemidji State University is very uplifting and empowering. Everyone here is very respectful of whatever gender you identify with. I love the fact that I am valued here, not just as a woman but also as a person of color. Looking back at history and up until now, I wish people would honor and appreciate the power of a woman but also highlight the pain and suffering that they have successfully battled over the years. I feel so blessed to be a woman. The fact that I sense much more hope in the future for women like me to be even more strong, fierce, and powerful makes me feel proud and celebratory. As Hillary Clinton states, “human rights are women’s rights and women’s rights are human rights. Let us not forget that among those rights are the right to speak freely – and the right to be heard.”
 
lizzie

Lizzie Aydt

she/her, MSU Moorhead

I am proud to be a women. I am proud to show others that I am hardworking, independent, and strong. Women's History Month is not to put women in a light that makes them look superior over men but, instead, puts a spotlight on the many contributions of women. One day, I hope to make a contribution to this world just like some of the great women that I look up to.
 
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Lexi Byler

she/her, MSU Moorhead

When I was accepted to MSU Moorhead, one of the first things my grandma said to me was that she wouldn't have ever imagined going to college herself. Women just didn't do that "back then." She was proud of me for a number a reasons, but I think she was also proud of how far women have come.
My campus is predominantly women. It was a great experience being surrounded by women leaders who are my peers, as well as faculty, staff, and administration. I would consider MSU Moorhead to be a place where women thrive. We have an active Women's Center and Women and Gender Studies Department. These two entities in particular deserve credit for helping to develop a community where women are valued.
I'm not just a woman though. I'm a black woman. Black women are the bedrock of our history. Daisy Bates led the fight to desegregate Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. Mary McLeod Bethune founded one of the earliest colleges where black people could get degrees. Dorothy Height was the president of the National Council of Negro Women, leading the charge for improving the circumstances and opportunities for black women. These are the forgotten women. The leaders we don't learn about in the classroom.
If there was one thing I wish people understood about women's history month, it's the irony that it immediately follows black history month. Too often during the celebration of women's history month, we continue to forget and ignore our black sisters and their history. I'm proud to be a black woman because if you can persist through both racism and sexism, you can persist through anything.
 
sam

Samantha Wogensen

she/her, Winona State University

Being a woman in general gives me a different worldview than my male counterparts. It means that I experience sexism in things like beauty standards I must comply with or career paths that are seen as suitable, like being a caretaker, and many other issues. Not everyone fits into these boxes and I wish society was more open to what makes people happy, especially if it's outside of the norm. This is how we grow and what makes us beautiful creatures.
Women historically have been at the forefront of change, especially women of color, queer, and trans women. Whether it was the Suffragist movement, Civil Rights movement, protests to end the Vietnam War, the Stonewall Riots, or nowadays reproductive justice, women all played a key role in activism in regard to this history. I am proud to be a strong independent woman, because I thrive off of creating a world that is more inclusive for all.
 
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Kaleen Krueger

she/her, MSU Moorhead

Being a woman has made me who I am. I have put in the work and effort to get to where I stand today. My privilege has allowed me to be blessed, while I know that I may still be questioned because I am a woman. It has not been easy, but everything that I have gone through has been worth it. For the past four years I have served on Student Senate at Minnesota State University Moorhead. Before I became the Student Body President this year, I served under three male presidents and, before that, a long line of men have led the students of MSU Moorhead. I knew that I would make an impact in this new role and being a woman would not define my ability to succeed. Hundreds of women have paved the way to show women around the world that we are strong, powerful, and a force to be reckoned with.
I wish people would give everyone the chance to show them what they are capable of before casting judgment. Women’s history is pivotal to our past, present and future. I have been apart of change that can come from a group of women assembling together, and it is powerful. I am proud to be women and celebrate in all of the successes that my fellow women and I have shared.
“You may not always have a comfortable life and you will not always be able to solve all of the world’s problems at once but don’t ever underestimate the importance you can have because history has shown us that courage can be contagious and hope can take on a life of its own.” – Michelle Obama
 
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Muna Mohamed

she/her, Southwest Minnesota State University

As an African-American Muslim woman, I am more than capable of accomplishing anything I set my mind to with the efforts and passion I have for it and also to overcome any barriers that try to interfere with my end goals. Not only am I proud to be a woman, but my identity should not be compared to my capabilities and knowledge.
 
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Heather Moenck

she/her, Metropolitan State University

Identifying as a women has not so much impacted my experience on my campus, but did have an impact in my programing. I began as Metropolitan State University in the Social Work program with some supplemental Psychology courses. In my Social Work cohort, there was an overwhelming majority of women compared to men. This was expected as the majority of social workers in the country are women, but this make-up of the classroom led to a general feeling of sameness and allowed us to explore cultural differences that changed how each of us developed into who we are today. There was also a lot of women empowerment and openness within the group which made my experience very positive.

I wish people understood that women have made a great impact all throughout history, but that we are more than the singular thing we are recognized for, and have impacted more areas than is realized. I think that in many cases, one snapshot of a famous women is taken and widely publicized, but people don’t notice the other great things they have done. Rosa Parks for example is known for standing her ground on a bus, but less known facts include that she was on the local NAACP and an active human rights activist. Women have also impacted more areas of the world then people understand. We have shaped social services and education, and even how mental health is handled in the country. I wish people would understand how far reaching women’s impact on that world is and that our contribution was reflected greater than is currently is.

I love being a women and feel proud every time another woman does something great, from changing laws to raising great kids! I try to celebrate myself every day and acknowledge how I have overcome my struggles while figuring out what mission to tackle after breakfast every day. I love my intersections and my ambitions, and want to be seen as more than just my gender; as my achievements and my potential.
 
Abeer Syedah