March 2, 2017

What the First Black Woman President of the Harvard Law Review and Female Athletes Have in Common.

“When I graduated from Cornell, something wonderful happened to me. I saw a woman get her Ph.D. She walked across the stage, shook the hand of the University president, and marched off. In her arms, she had a baby. ‘I could do that,’ I thought.” ~ Nancy Darling, Ph.D.


Two incredibly synchronistic Facebook posts reached me this morning, one right after the other.

The first was the appointment of the first black woman President of the Harvard Law Review, which is a “student-run organization whose primary purpose is to publish a journal of legal scholarship.”

An article in The New York Times reported that “[It was] a great honor for ImeIme Umana, 24, the third-oldest of four daughters of Nigerian immigrants” to be elected as president of the Law Review’s 131st volume.

I was encouraged by Umana’s election and could almost hear a barrier falling.

While Umana’s accomplishment stands on its own, when I scrolled down to the very next post on my Facebook feed, I saw what her accomplishment could also mean to young girls and women as a whole.

In that second post in my Facebook feed, a mother shared about the University of Arkansas Athletic Department National Girls and Women in Sports Day.

The mom had taken her seven-year-old twin daughters to the event in which female student athletes in golf, volleyball, basketball, swimming and track were present. Girls were able to meet and interact with the athletes and to take part in special mini-clinics of their choosing.

After the event there was a women’s basketball game and the mom commented that her girls were able to sit still for the entire basketball game without losing interest or wanting to leave. When she asked her daughters how they were able to do that, they said,

“Because there were girls playing.”

“If girls don’t see women doing sports or they don’t see a woman in a particular profession, it is harder for them to be interested. Not only do they not see themselves being able to do it, they aren’t even interested to begin with.” ~ C. S.

That’s when the powerful coincidence of the two posts showing up on Facebook one right after the other came together for me.

Into my mind flew a picture of hundreds of little girls of all shapes, sizes, races and ethnicities staying for the game, no matter what the game was—golf, basketball, or even the President of the Harvard Law Review Game—“Because girls were playing.”

We all need role models. They expand our world, open our horizons and fill our minds with four simple words.

“I could do that.”


Author: Carmelene Siani

Image: MGoBlue.com/labeled for reuseScreenshot

Editor: Caitlin Oriel

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