Members of the AP Government class, taught by social studies teacher Ms. Cindy Richter, attended the International Women’s Day Conference on March 8 at the Italian American Banquet Center in Livonia.
A 1977 Mercy graduate, Marisa Petrella, offered to sponsor 10 students to attend. President Dr. Cheryl Delaney Kreger forwarded the invitation to Ms. Richter and the 17-person AP Government class, as Dr. Kreger was willing to cover any additional students wishing to attend. Students sat at separate tables and were encouraged to network with the women attending the event.
Senior Kelly Eusebi met journalist Anne Doyle, a strong advocate for women’s leadership. Doyle gave Eusebi a copy of her book: Powering Up! How America’s Women Achievers Become Leaders.
“Seeing these women and their achievements gives me hope that all my efforts toward my studies and political activism in high school have been worth it,” said Eusebi.
Doyle told Eusebi that the women leaders of Eusebi’s generation have the opportunity, power, and intelligence to influence change in the national and international community.
Senior Rachel Wagner, who looks to pursue a law career, said the women she met gave her confidence as they exemplified that balancing work and family is possible.
“They were more than just professionals,” said Wagner. “They were family women. One of the women at my table is successful at the same job I want, and she is able to balance work and family very well.”
The four-hour luncheon, hosted by the International Women’s Forum, featured U.S. Congresswoman Debbie Dingell of Michigan’s 12th Congressional District.
“She talked about women helping women,” said senior Eleanor Keurejian. “Instead of seeing each other as competition, we have to boost each other up.”
Dingell told the conference attendees that she went to the grocery store, made the bed, cooked, and did laundry all before arriving at the conference. Ms. Richter sees Dingell as a champion for women’s empowerment, providing the students with a glimpse of life outside of Mercy.
“I think we take women’s freedoms for granted,” said Ms. Richter. “The thing is, it didn’t stop with the 19th amendment. When we talk civil rights, we have to think women as well. To hear the real life stories that these women experienced in the ’60s, ’70s, and even today enforced that disparity in pay and job mobility is still present.”
Dingell said she hopes that one day it will not be considered an accomplishment to have 100 women in Congress, but that it will instead be the norm.