By ERKABAY GIRMA ‘23
In honor of Women’s History Month this past March, FCCLA (Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America) collaborated with Edison High’s Girl Up! for a week of education on women’s issues, dubbed Empower a Nation. The event consisted of a Zoom seminar, Jeopardy games, and daily challenges as a race for the most points by the end of the week. This year, the Women’s History Celebration Week was run by Adedoyin Ayeni ‘23, the Vice President of Fundraising, and Shrinidhi Ramachandran ‘23, the Vice President of Community Service.
With COVID-19 still plaguing the nation, the week-long event was forced to be virtual, causing some issues when it came to planning activities.
“I think it was definitely harder to advertise this and get people to come because we sent out mass emails—but people love to ignore them,” Ramachandran said. The pair put their minds together and thought of ways to increase involvement in the event.
“We had incentives and other reasons for why people should participate,” Ramachandran said. Ayeni added, “Depending on the level of participation of the attendees, points were given out for completion of different activities. The first-place winner received a $20 gift card, second place received a $5 gift card, and third place received a $5 gift card as well. The second place ended up a three-way tie!”
In the seminar kicking off the week-long event, guest speaker health and physical education teacher Veronica Harris took to the spotlight to share her wisdom as a woman. Ms. Harris is the coach of Rutgers’ cross country and track & field teams and a national title-winning track star. She also has her own talk show on Youtube, The Veronica Harris Show, and is the co-host of a sports talk show In the Game. In Monday’s seminar, Ms. Harris discussed how young women could empower themselves, specifically drawing from her experiences as a teacher. Ms. Harris implored female students to make their voices heard inside and outside of the classroom.
Ms. Harris was not the only woman to speak up and participate in the week-long event. Other female faculty members were encouraged to record and submit videos pertaining to feminism.
21st Century Skills teacher Danielle Heath explained how her non-traditional parents helped empower her, inspiring her to do the same for her students. She stressed the importance of feminism being intersectional, and not leaving out other marginalized communities in the process of female liberation. English teacher Gina Corsun shared stories of her facing sexism in high school. She explained that her father expected her to become a secretary, get married, and settle down with a husband eventually. Mrs. Corsun overcame all odds and went to university, eventually becoming an English teacher and sharing her wisdom with her classes. Finally, Tayler Gracia, an English teacher at Herbert Hoover Middle School, detailed her experiences with sexism in the restaurant business.
The event ended up being a major success despite all the challenges Adedoyin and Shrinidhi detailed.
“We’re so happy that so many people came to see what Shrinidhi put together. The turnout seemed pretty bleak: we expected maybe 5 or 10 people, or it even seemed pretty likely that nobody would come,” Adedoyin said.” I think it’s difficult to convince people to come to an after-school event over Zoom, especially with how stressed I know people are right now. I’m just super honored that people decided to take time out of their day and support our project.” With the success of the event, even over Zoom, the two hope to make Empower a Nation a yearly event in honor of Women’s History Month.