Females on campus to tell “Herstory”

Lynn Rieff, director for the Center for Women’s Studies, poses with her heroine Barbara Jordan. Emily Kelley, coordinator of the Center for Women’s Studies, said she and Rieff plan to present the project annually.

March is Women’s History Month, and to celebrate, the Center for Women’s Studies is bringing back the Women’s Herstory Project for its second year.

Participants of the project take a photo of themselves holding a photo of their heroine and write a short biography of who their heroine is and why they chose them. The center will use the photo and biography as part of Collier Library’s display.

The center will feature entries from 2016 and 2017 in an exclusive display at the library and remain there for several weeks in honor of the month.

Photographer Taranae Cooley took the photos. The center will no longer be taking photos for this year’s project.

The project is open to all alumnae and women on campus, and it allows participants to honor the woman they have as their heroine, said Emily Kelley, coordinator of the Center for Women’s Studies.

Kelley said she borrowed the idea for the project from the University of Connecticut, whose version has the women dress up as their heroine.

Kelley was a participant in last year’s project, with her heroine being former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt.

“I grew up in awe of her and everything she had done,” Kelley said. “All of her strength, all of her work on behalf of African-Americans, the poor, the minors, the underrepresented people of the world — I really identify with that.”

Lynne Rieff, director for the Center for Women’s Studies, helped Kelley start the project last year.

“(With the event) there’s a lot of self-reflection,” Rieff said. “In selecting and identifying with a particular heroine, you’re asking yourself ‘What do I believe?’ and ‘Who am I?’ This is one kind of exercise that can hopefully encourage students to initiate the process of thinking about what’s important to them, who they are, who they admire (and why).”

Kelley said she and Rieff plan to keep the project annually. With each year, the display will include both old and new entries.

Freshman Hoyt Brown said he believes it is an important event to recognize the women that have stood out in history.

“(The event) shows that out of all the historical figures, many of them being male, that, yes, women can too leave their mark in history just as well as men can,” Brown said.

Sophomore Karlee Mauk, who is minoring in women’s studies, is an intern at the center and a participant in this year’s project.

Mauk said her heroine is artist Frida Kahlo, who she looks to for support with her dancing.

“She taught me through her artwork alone a lot about how to harness (your) emotions,” Mauk said. “I feel women are told not to be too emotional because we’re typically stereotyped in that way. She puts her emotions (in her) artwork. It is in your face, and you’re going to feel it the exact same way she did as much as she can make you.”

Besides Kelley, the participants last year were Rieff, Director of Student Counseling Lynne Martin and alumna Jennifer Butler Keeton. Their heroines are Barbara Jordan, Carly Simon and Mother Jones.