With Utah ranking dead last for female college graduates, and UVU falling into last place for graduating women, UVU’s new Women’s Success Center held the first annual Ladies Night on March 1 to encourage female students to graduate.
The theme of the evening was “my future, my graduation,” which focused on inspiring women to see the connection between their future goals with obtaining an education.
Featured speakers Liz Miller, Elizabeth Jarema and First Lady Paige Holland each shared their stories of opposition and overcoming the odds to obtain an education.
Liz Miller, a senior in the Aviation Science Program, spoke Friday about being a woman in a male-dominated field.
Not long after her acceptance to the program, Miller learned that, for others, her gender did matter.
“No one thought I could do it,” Miller said. “Everyone kept telling me that I’d just get married, get pregnant and drop out. Even though I had never thought about gender before and didn’t think it would matter, there was a time when I thought that maybe being a woman was a disadvantage.”
After dealing with the constant onslaught of sexist attitudes toward her presence, Miller had a change of perspective.
“Yes, being a woman is something that sets me apart,” Miller said. “Being a woman makes me different, and being a woman is something that I do well. I have learned that being a woman not only makes me different, but can be something I can take pride in and do something great with.”
First Lady Paige Holland served as the evening’s keynote speaker. Holland focused her talk on the curve balls life can throw and the advantages of getting a degree.
“You may encounter defeats,” Holland said, quoting Maya Angelou. “But you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.”
The first lady discussed how crucial education is for a successful, healthy and happy life. Holland cited many statistics outlining the need for a woman to obtain her education, explaining that a woman without a bachelor’s degree has a 30 percent chance of living in poverty, which drops to 10 percent when she obtains her degree.
Holland used examples of her own life to help provide a path for women struggling against the odds in Utah to graduate from a university.
“Find a mentor,” Holland said. “Find someone who believes in you and your dream as much as you do. Find a professor or advisor who can help you navigate, not only your class schedule, but your future plans. I was lucky enough to have a mentor who told me, ‘Paige you can do this, you could do this professionally if you want to and if you do the work.’ I needed that support. It made all the difference.”
By Nicole Shepard