Editor’s Note: The following is the first of a 3-part series celebrating Women’s History Month. In this series, our authors share thoughts about women throughout history who have inspired them.
Ever since I can remember, I wanted to be a teacher. In second grade, I decided to be an astronaut too because Christa McAuliffe showed me you could be both. I’ll always mark her as my first role model, aside from my mother. My high school English teacher was the second. She took me on student trips to our state’s capital, showing me how my voice mattered and could influence decisions. She prepared me for college by not letting me accept less than success no matter how many tries it took.
In college, I discovered Geography and my role models became women like Jane Jacobs who wrote about the heart of cities. She had a voice that changed American thinking, opinions primarily formed from first-hand observation as a mother, wife, and citizen. She was fierce and even opened her famous book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, by calling it an “attack.” Women like Jacobs kept me pressing forward because honestly, all my professors were men until I started concentrating on urban planning. There’s a strength that radiates from female city planners and managers, a person who can truly make a difference in her community.
No talk of remarkable women would be complete without mentioning my mother and the women who came before her in my family. Blue collar, hard-working factory women, storekeepers, bank managers, women who fought for geriatric health care reform, and of course they did it all while raising families. I didn’t even like computers or technology, didn’t even want a cell phone until I was twenty-seven…when I found out all the cool types of applications and jobs you can get with GIS skills, it did not matter to me what the ratio of male-female in the field looked like. I had strong women who forged paths in their own areas to gain that perspective of “anything’s possible.” Someday I will get back to teaching when I can do it for fun.