Month: March 2015

Her Name Is Frances…

Years ago while working at a Hospice, I had the privilege of meeting many wonderful women from all walks of life, cultures and races. The mission of the Hospice staff is to give comfort and care to the dying and their families. Such care stems from nurses, social workers, chaplains, home health aides, volunteers and grief counselors, as well as the staff members billing or answering phones, who were just as caring. Because of the level of energy such care demands of people, the founder, Betty, believed in not only taking care of the patients and families but also encouraging us to take care of ourselves.  We were encouraged to become involved in a support group facilitated by a psychologist.  Once a month, each group of about 10 staff members from all categories of care met to support, share and ‘be’ for each other. It was during these support groups that I actually learned about the people I shared eight hours a day with. We realized more about what we had in common than what made us different.  We all learned we are never alone in this journey of life.

Frances is a woman of color and the only reason I state this is because all my early life I lived among white people, went to schools with only white kids and prayed in churches filled with white families.  What I have realized these many years later is that I missed out on a lot of stories. Growing up segregated, one only hears one side of a story or one view of life about the other race or culture or religion; and this goes both ways – people of color did not know the stories of white people as I know them. Ignorance is no excuse, but that is what I had a lot of. I knew nothing about my black sisters.

Frances is a home health aide.  Her hands soothed patients with warm baths and lotion back rubs.  Her quiet voice read Bible stories and her compassion made her a wonderful listener. Patients shared much with her.  Frances is a warm caring and happy person and never was I aware that she carried great pain in her life until one day during one of our support groups when she shared with us her greatest sorrow.  We found out three of her young children years back had died in a house fire while she was at work.  She shared that the loss nearly killed her body and soul.  Yet, Frances lived and, more, she survived. It was her deep, deep faith in her God and in her Savior that sustained her through her darkest days.  She spoke freely about her faith and her beliefs, and we all benefited from her words. Frances liked the vision of an oak tree – firmly grounded with deep roots of faith and love.  She also liked the willow tree, which bends and bows with the winds that pull at the trunk.

Years later, Frances had a heart attack and was forced to take medical leave and eventually retire.   It was with great sadness, we had to say farewell to such a great lady.  One day shortly after she left, she stopped by my office, and I asked her how she was doing.  She said, “Well, Sue, I was really down for a while. I saw no purpose for me anymore.”  As she talked, I ached for her because she loved her patients and she loved her work. She continued, “But you know what I did? One day, I just told the devil that I would give him one more day with me, and then he has to leave because my Jesus is calling me to do something good.”

“One day, I just told the devil that I would give him one more day with me, and then he has to leave because my Jesus is calling me to do something good.”

I started to chuckle because that was my Frances, that was the woman who was both an oak and a willow tree. With a smile, she continued, “So the next day, I decided I don’t have to stay in the house. I have a purpose and that purpose is to help young girls learn about home health care.”  Eventually, Frances was able to take care of a patient in her home. And she did teach young women about the work of a home health aide, but, more, I believe she enlightened young women just as she enlightened so many of the staff and patients who were blessed to have her in our lives.

I don’t know whatever happened to Frances after that. I do know I’ve been changed by the presence of her in my life. She inspired me to believe in something and someone greater than myself. Whenever I get depressed or down, I take on Frances’ attitude and tell the devil, “He has one more day with me, and then he has to leave because Jesus is calling me to do something good.”

Her name is Frances … a woman of color, a woman of faith and a woman of strength far beyond her physical body.

– Susan Handle Terbay,
Administrative Assistant
Center for Social Concern
Campus Ministry

8 Tidbits of Career Wisdom

With our annual Campus to Career conference tomorrow, I find myself thinking about the journey to my professional self. Why? Because Campus to Career is all about helping undergraduate and graduate women develop the skills they need to be successful in their first “big-girl jobs.”

I’m just finishing up the first year of my “big-girl job,” so the theme of this conference really speaks to me. Don’t get me wrong, I have worked since I was 15 (which is the legal age to work in Ohio, don’t worry). This is just my first professional job where my education and experience matter. I’m still learning, but I wanted to share 8 tidbits of wisdom I’ve learned so far…

  1. Thank your mentors and supporters.
    No one can achieve success on their own. You had guidance and support along the way from people who helped shape you into the person you are. Let those people in your life know how much you appreciate them.
  2. Make your space your own.
    You will spend the majority of your waking hours at work, so why not enjoy your space? Maybe you’ll have an entire office, a cubicle or a desk to call your own. Maybe your space is just a computer screen. Whatever it is–make it yours.
  3. Don’t take work home.
    Easier said than done, I know. Sometimes bringing work home is inevitable if you have hard deadlines or major projects to finish. I’m not talking about procrastination in your job, but, at the end of the day, whatever work that you haven’t finished can wait until tomorrow.
  4. Get to know your colleagues.
    As I’ve said before, you’ll spend the majority of your waking hours at work, with your colleagues. You don’t need to be BFFs with everyone, but you should at least be friendly and on a first-name basis. Beyond first names and smiles, get to know your colleagues so you can do your best work with them. It’s much easier to do your job when you know what makes your co-workers tick and how they perform best.
  5. Don’t be afraid to ask questions…lots of them.
    You are new. It’s okay that you don’t know everything. It should be a learning process. Asking questions shows that you are committed to doing your best work and are simply seeking clarification and feedback along the way.
  6. Listen.
    When you’re still learning the ins and outs to a job, the best thing you can do is listen. To your supervisor. To your coworkers. Chances are, all of that listening will yield “best practices” in the work that you do–or at least you will know what not to do.
  7. Own it.
    Guess what? Not everyone will be jumping up and down because you got the job. Some people may question if you really have “what it takes” to get the job done. Don’t worry, you do. You got the job because you were the best candidate; don’t let anyone make you think or feel otherwise. Just know that your work will speak for itself. My girl Taylor Swift says it best: “The haters’ gonna hate hate hate hate hate…”
  8. Fake it ’til you make it.
    (I’m referring to confidence here.) When you don’t have a lot of experience doing something, it’s easy to second-guess your abilities and yourself, even though you may be as capable and prepared as any seasoned pro. The minute you begin doing that, those around you will follow suit. If you aren’t 100 percent confident in yourself yet (and it’s okay if you aren’t), fake the confidence until you are. I promise you’ll find your confidence eventually.

Feminism Isn’t a Reality in the American Dream

Woman-President

Would you vote for a woman president?

Of course.

Then, why hasn’t a woman made it to the Oval Office?


On March 30 at 7pm in Sears Recital Hall, as the keynote speakers of Women’s History Month, Dr. Karrin Vasby Anderson and Dr. Kristina Horn Sheeler will speak about what it would take for a woman to be elected.

Vasby Anderson and Horn Sheeler met in doctorate classes at Indiana University, where they researched presidential spouses and women in posititions of executive leadership in terms of communication and popular culture studies.

Their 2013 book “Woman President: Confronting Postfeminist Political Culture,” the focus of their presentation, addresses Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin during the 2008 campaign, labeled “a good year” for women in politics. Vasby Anderson and Horn Sheeler argue that when MSNBC anchors publicly compare Clinton’s voice to a shrill wife and all women in the political sphere must still tryingly deflect gendered attacks, we need to address these issues as ones ingrained in our society.

“If you think that feminism’s work is basically done,” she continued, “and women have what they need to succeed in politics, read this book.”

Vasby Anderson and Horn Sheeler refuse to give prospective female politicians advice (for they aren’t the ones who need it). They will, however, give advice to voters.

“We have the power, as voters, consumers and audience members to demand more from our political and popular culture. In a democracy, it’s the people’s responsibility to engage in and improve politics. Let’s all get to work.”