Hearing the (Wake-Up) Call
by Salvia Choi
(pictured on right)
When I was selected to be one of two representatives for the 1998 National Conference for College Women Student Leaders, I was not sure what to expect or if I had even made the right decision by accepting the invitation. Looking back, I feel only grateful to have been asked.
One of my stronger memories of the conference is a workshop titled, "Women's Body Image and American Popular Media." The presentation clearly showed how our current popular media do not foster a positive attitude for women which creates an atmosphere that seems to justify self-loathing for many women.
The highlight of the conference was the Women of Distinction Award Ceremony. The first recipient was Sharon Barbano, the president of The Women's Sports Marketing Group. The key point of her message was to pay attention to life's wake-up calls. One of her wake-up calls came from a high school running coach who told her if she wanted to run with the boys, she would have to do double workouts because she was a woman (this was before Title IX, when there was no women's team). Instead, she ran for herself and later became a Long Island Marathon winner.
Another articulate speaker was Jennifer Sheehy, a woman who has overcome obstacles in the most literal sense. In 1994, she was involved in a swimming pool accident that resulted in paralysis. Her message to the women at the conference was to have long-term goals, no matter how ridiculous they may seem now. In the meantime, set smaller goals, no matter how silly. When each goal is attained, celebrate the achievement, no matter how small.
All of the women recognized were ordinary women who have done extraordinary things to affect their own lives as well as the lives of others. Each woman emphasized that we should never see ourselves--or allow others to see us--as having limits because we are women. The overarching themes were to keep dreaming our dreams and to remember that it is our choice to decide how much to make come true.
Salvia Choi is a senior at Emory College where she is pre-med and majoring in Biology and Chemistry. She plays first violin in the Atlanta Emory Orchestra, sings soprano in the University Chorus, and is a student representative of the Emory Women's Center Advisory Board.
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