In the Workplace and Beyond, We are Each Other’s Best Cheerleaders
For most of us, Women’s History Month means an annual nod to such past female luminaries like poet Maya Angelou, healthcare pioneer Florence Nightengale, or author and humorist Dorothy Parker, among many others.
This year, however, I’ve been thinking a lot about women. I’ve been considering the ways we empower ourselves and each other, the unparalleled ways female friendships, have enriched my life, and the many ways my network of female colleagues has made my career possible.
From my first moments as a freshman at Marywood High – a now-defunct all-girls Catholic school in Orange – I realize the unlimited power of female friendships.
Because there weren’t any boys at our school, we were the leaders: We starred in sports and on-stage performances; we ran things as student leaders, and academically we were the valedictorians, salutatorians, and other high achievers.
But beyond our success in school and extracurricular activities, we learned to lean on each other, admire each other, and value one another for the unique characteristics women bring to the workplace and the home.
I’m proud to say that eight of us still see each other once a year for a girls’ weekend – and we pretty much pick up right where we left off the previous year. Our annual visits on the Central California coast never fail to be a highlight of my year.
Perhaps because I developed such close relationships with other women in high school, I was open to the idea of rushing a sorority when I entered college.
After all, Cal State Fullerton is a big place. Even though I had a part-time job, full academic schedule, and intended to work for the school newspaper, I knew I’d benefit from the friendships and support a sorority offered.
Sigma Kappa didn’t disappoint. I’ve been a dues-paying member and alumna since pledging in spring ’77, serving as a collegiate officer, chapter advisor, and in many other support and leadership roles.
Not only did my sorority provide me with lasting friendships and excellent role models for career success, but it molded me into a confident leader – with the qualities I’ve needed throughout my career.
My sorority sisters are topmost in my mind this spring, thanks to a recent honor Sigma Kappa awarded me at our chapter’s recent 50th anniversary gala.
I received the 2022-23 Ernestine Duncan Collins Pearl Court Award, a national honor designed to recognize alumnae who are, and have been, the “backbone” of the sorority. “These sisters have loyally and consistently given their time and talents to and for Sigma Kappa – her promotion, expansion, and continued development,” the award states.
Recipients are honored for their involvement in sorority and non-sorority organizations and for consistently representing Sigma Kappa in a positive way. They “loyally and consistently give of their time and talents to and for the promotion, expansion, and continued development of Sigma Kappa.”
I am touched to have been recognized at the national level for my volunteerism, professional honors, and career success. Sigma Kappa – its people, values, and traditions – means the world to me. I’ll strive, always, to live “One Heart, One Way,” taking to heart our sorority’s open motto.
Loyalty to my female friends is not only a vital part of my personal life, but also one my career’s foundational values. From my student days until the present, female role models and mentors have helped shape my professional life – and my professors, students, and fellow professionals have been at the forefront of my vibrant network of communications colleagues.
Beyond a shared commitment to working harder than our male compatriots, I believe that women bring to journalism, public relations, and other communications arenas a host of specific skills, approaches, and techniques.
These skills and qualities empower our success. They also compel us to reach out to other women to their career and personal pursuits.
I know I wouldn’t be as successful as I am today without the female mentors who helped shaped me, without the colleagues who encouraged me, or without the other female industry leaders who lifted me up along the way.
Networking opportunities offered by professional organizations such as the Public Relations Society of America, the International Association of Business Communicators, the Orange County Press Club and many others encourage us to work toward common goals with other industry colleagues.
But the women I know go one step further. We create our own informal support networks, and we continue to nurture each other through the years. I’m still in touch with many former students and employees who’ve gone on to great professional success. Likewise, I remain friendly with the mentors who’ve assisted in my career development.
Women’s Empowerment Day is celebrated in August, although Women’s History Month is in March. To me, they belong together.
And finally, to the women who’ve empowered my success, thank you. To the colleagues still on the road, godspeed. And to the women in my life – sorority sisters, fellow Marywood graduates, proud Titans, and more – I hope we will loyally support each other, today and always.