LADIES - Are you aware that there is an entire month dedicated solely to us?
Over the past three decades, the month of March has been devoted to empowering women of all ages through a month long celebration of recognizing the most dominant and influential women in history. Since 1980, National Women’s History Month has been committed to highlighting their contributions and how they continue to affect our present-day society.
It’s hard not to feel a huge wave of compassion and respect for these historical female figures who have opened up doors and possibilities for all young women today. Their stories and successes continue to motivate females to be individualistic in a leading male culture.
There’s Nancy Reagan, former first lady, who taught us that, “A woman is like a teabag - only in hot water do you realize how strong she is”. And Helen Keller, prominent educator and internationally respected humanitarian, who proclaimed that, “No effort that we make to attain something beautiful is ever lost”. And then there’s Oprah Winfrey, the first black female host of a nationally syndicated daily talk show, who showed women that, “There is no greater gift you can give or receive than to honor your calling. It’s why you were born/"
By challenging humanities assumptions that women are not socially, politically, or economically equal to males, these legendary figures in history have been able to overcome adversity and achieve their dreams while continuing to empower females of all ages beyond their years.
Every March, Women’s History Month recognizes the brilliant women who continue to influence present day females in their own personal and distinctive ways. For me, my leading role model is a woman who was able to overcome the hardship and adversity she faced as a single mother who dreamed of pursuing a career as a writer.
In 1990 on a crowded train to London’s Kings Cross Station with her young daughter at her side, an exciting idea for a story fell into Joanne “Jo” Rowling’s mind. There was a young boy with messy black hair and round shaped glasses, who had unknowing knowledge that he was a wizard. By continuing to pursue this story idea, Rowling went from living a simple life as an eager writer living on state benefits to creating the multi-million dollar bestselling franchise that is known as Harry Potter.
Rowling, formerly known as Joanne, wanted to use initials instead of her full name on the cover of the Harry Potter books in order to target both genders. Her publisher agreed on her theory that a group of young boys would be reluctant to buy a story written by an obvious female name like Joanne. Since Rowling did not have a middle name, she decided to adopt her paternal grandmother’s name, Kathleen, for the middle initial. The creation of her famous pen name, J.K. Rowling, makes me appreciate her as an artist all the more. For a previously unknown writer who worked her way to the top, she did not care about the glitz and glory of fame. What she cared about was attracting readers to her stories.
My admiration for Rowling as an artist has never stemmed from her fortune and fame. What I adore about her as a person is my knowledge of her journey through failure and rejection.
Rowling has proved that one idea can go a long way if you have the knack and determination. Since the release of the beloved Harry Potter series, her stories have been translated into 73 languages, selling millions of copies and accumulating over 20 billion dollars through movie adaptations.
But despite her achievements, Rowling stated that at one point in time, “By every usual standard, I was the biggest failure I knew”. Back in 1995 when Rowling finished her manuscript for the first Harry Potter novel, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, she submitted the final copy to over twelve publishing houses, all of which rejected the manuscript (I’m sure this has become the biggest regret of their lives). A year later, she was finally given the go by an editor from a publishing house in London.
For a young and aspiring professional about to graduate with an unsure future ahead of me, it is so symbolic to know that someone as lucrative and well known as Rowling was once a college graduate in my questionable shoes. At this point in my life, I’m not sure where I will be a year from now. But I hope to be journeying down a career path that makes me as happy as storytelling does for Rowling.
To me, Rowling’s real life story is more incredible than any work of fiction. By following her rocky journey, I have learned that you must push through the difficult times in life. Within every challenge there are great doses of life to be lived.
When I look back at my childhood, reading the Harry Potter series and watching the films was a huge bonding experience for my siblings and me who have always shared a love for Rowling’s storytelling. By doing what she loves, Rowling has been able to touch the lives of millions, inspiring boys and girls across the world to follow their wildest dreams no matter the defeat or failure they may face along the way.
Some of my favorite and most profound quotes by Rowling I have grown to feel a connection to over the lifespan of the fantasy world that is Harry Potter include but are not limited to:
- “It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all, in which case you have failed by default.”
- “Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”
- “It is our choices that show who we truly are, far more than our abilities.”
- “In dreams, we enter a world that’s entirely our own.”
This year’s Women’s History month theme, “Weaving the Stories of Women’s Lives”, really relates to how Rowling has inspired me to continue in her legacy of overcoming challenges and journeying on to reach happiness and one’s full potential.
This coming June, Bloomsburg University will be sponsoring the 25th Annual International Conference on female author Virginia Woolf, one of the leading modernists of the twentieth century. This year’s theme, “Virginia Woolf and Her Female Contemporaries”, seeks to recognize Woolf’s writing along with the work of her contemporaries and how today’s society of young artists compare to that of Woolf and her colleagues.
With the 2015 Women’s History Month under wraps, it is vital for our small population of unique undergraduates and graduates here at Bloomsburg University to recognize inspiring females who have contributed to the gender equality that exists in our university community today.
— Rachael Scicchitano, senior communication studies major #HuskyLife #ProfessionalU