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Odom1 Nicole M. Odom

Precedent Setters

Women are the back bone of the family, the community, and their beauty is matched only by their tenacity. I equate beauty with the ability to lose yourself in the abyss called life, and then find yourself better, stronger, and wiser. Many women are unsung heroes, and they come from all walks of life. The women in the hood, the women in the suburbs, and the women working in a fast food restaurant, or the women in corporate executive positions all take part in making life better for their families, and their communities. I have had the pleasure of meeting women who have influenced me directly, and women whose impact affected me indirectly. History names multiple women who have persevered I will name three: the First Lady Michelle Obama, Serena Williams, and Dr. Ednita Wright. Their impact has been my renewed belief in that the impossible is possible. Through their actions I know that hard work pays off. I don’t have to settle for low expectations of myself; I can aspire to greatness, and achieve it. Let me begin with the First Lady, Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama. Imagine my amazement to see a woman who looked like me given the title of First Lady. This is a woman who defies the standard of beauty. This woman is self-reliant, educated, and a nurturing mother. Women throughout the world have exhibited these attributes; yet this is the first time in America’s history that the woman being held up for public consumption is an African-American. The impact the First Lady has will be seen for many years too


Odom2 come. It will transcend ethnic and cultural boundaries, for the First Lady exemplifies grace, critical thinking ability, and a resilience that shines through and through. The First Lady states “We’ve got to show people of color a different possibility. And I think that once they see what’s possible, then they own it, they believe it “(6). Girls who would never think of getting an education will see education as something worth having. Young ladies who see their worth as only an external thing will know that inherently they are priceless. Woman who believe that their knight will never come see our President Barak Obama, and know that educated men, men with character, compassionate men, men who enjoy being fathers are out there. The First Lady has modeled what a strong family the Obamas are for the entire world too see. The First Lady understands the importance of healthy African-American families being modeled in the community and states that “The most important message we can send out is to show that we are a solid fmily with love and respect for one another. So many times you don’t see that in the Africa-American community” (6). Not too say that because of the First Family that overnight things will change in the African-American community, but the long term effects of people seeing a strong African-American family with a father present, and an educated and articulate mother will gradually replace the unhealthy images that are real and perpetuated. The second woman whose impact I have felt is Serena Jameka Williams. Clearly this young woman is near and dear to my heart; for when I see her I see myself. Serena Williams is ten years my junior, but I see her as a young woman who has raged against the machine. Serena knows about staying focused” If you can keep playing tennis while somebody is shooting a gun down the street, that’s concentration” (Williams). Raised in


Odom3 the Los Angeles suburb of Compton, Serena rose to prominence by playing tennis. Imagine a sport dominated by women whose stature was dwarfed in comparison to Serena’s. The young lady is a power house, and did I mention that Serena is the younger sister of Venus who is also a tennis star. Coming from a two parent household with five siblings, her sister Yetunde (died September 14, 2003), was the foundation that created this tennis dynasty. Being influenced by parents who had high expectations impacted Serena in a major way. Having unconditional love for your child, and absolute belief in their capabilities, for this is what fosters knowledge of self. “I have it in me. I believe in my game and more than anything I believe in me. It doesn't matter what people say or people write. At the end of the day, I'm my biggest fan. Maybe my Dad. But other than that you have to always be your biggest fan. I'm just working on staying positive" (Williams). This young woman has set precedents for others too follow. Serena’s legacy will affect girls, young woman, and even women my age, because she is doing what makes her happy. The joy of living your life as you see fit is a mindset that few people obtain: having both parents partake in an activity that you all enjoy, and having one of your siblings as not only a cheerleader on the sidelines at your games, but an opponent who occasionally beats you.” Family's first, and that's what matters most. We realize that our love goes deeper than the tennis game (Williams). The love for self, the love of family, and the passion for something other than yourself is how I will introduce the woman whose impact I felt in person. Ednita M. Wright, Ph.D LCSW, Assistant Professor of Human Services at Onondaga Community College. I was blown away with her presence. Eclectic, empowered, witty, knowledgeable, courteous,


Odom4 assertive, candid, these attributes do Dr. Wright no justice. Dr. Wright’s confidence was something that can’t be denied, and it should be admired. Dr. Wright was a guest speaker at my Human Services- 153 course Tuesday, April 28, 2009, and Professor Ronald Bell told us not to be late. Having seen the Dr. around campus I had been introduced to her in passing. The actual interaction with her confirmed what I already knew about myself. Know thy self, love thy self, it is ok to be selfish, because nobody can love me like me. Losing yourself in another person or situation is paramount to suicide. Dr. Wright made me see that unconditional love is needed, as well as credentials. The unconditional love gives you the power to stand; the credentials give you the power to be heard. Three different women will impact me and others for years to come. The First Lady Michelle Obama, representing for all women who want a family and a career letting us know it’s a lot of hard work, but it can be done. Serena Williams young, gifted, and strong, and she doesn’t have the typical girl looks; yet has made it so that the extraordinary girls have a place too. Dr. Wright says it all by stating “know thy self.”


Odom5 Works Cited

Fein Paul. “Serena Williams Quotes.” www.tennisquotes.com. 28 April 2009. 4 May 2009. <http://www.tennisquotes.com/serena-williams.php>

Obama, Michelle. Michelle Obama In Her Own Words. New York: Public Affairs 2009.


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OCC Women's Studies Contest Winner(3rd plc) 2009