There is a Native American proverb that says, “It takes a thousand voices to tell a single story.” But when it comes to history, the story of women is largely one of silence and exclusion.
One of the more famous examples is British astrophysicist Jocelyn Bell-Burnell, the first person to discover radio pulsars. This was described as “the greatest discovery of the 20th century” and awarded a Nobel Prize in 1974. Except it went to her thesis supervisor with no mention of Bell-Burnell.
Restoring the past is one reason for Women’s History Month; informing the future is another. If we don’t pause to celebrate where we’ve been, we can’t imagine how far we can go in shaping a more equitable society. And that’s the theme of this month’s issue.
Lafayette alumnae are leading the way. From Beth Mowins ’89, only the second woman to call nationally televised football games for ESPN, to Dr. Cynthia Paige ’83, founder and medical director of Cypress Health Institute, to Osasumwen Izevbigie ’09, a graduate of Columbia Law School now working as area defense council for the United States Air Force, Lady Leopards rock.
Considering Lafayette only began admitting women in 1970, our alumnae have made up for lost time, injecting their intelligence, grit, talents, and compassion across the globe and in every sector of society. In this issue, you’ll meet Deb Dixon ’79, whose love for scientific adventure began at a young age with at-home chemistry experiments. Then there are Kathleen Squires ’88 and Beth Federici ’86, who joined creative forces to produce a documentary on the country’s first foodie.
In a special pull-out section chronicling 12 students’ travels to Peru for Alternative Spring Break, you’ll read about Emily Groves ’05, cofounder of a nonprofit organization that works to improve the health of indigenous people in the Sacred Valley region of the Andean highlands.
I was lucky enough to accompany the students to Peru as their learning partner along with Mary Wilford-Hunt, the College’s fabulous director of space management, landscape, and special projects. There we witnessed not only the emotional intelligence of our own students, but how empowering women as health leaders, the model for Groves’ organization, benefits everyone.
And so, Women’s History Month isn’t as much about the past as it is a call to recognize and leverage talents of the female half of the gender pool for a better tomorrow.
This issue’s cover story is for the Lafayette ladies. I am awed by your spirit, proud of your successes, and humbled as hell to tell your stories.
Kathleen Parrish P’17 P’20