Well-Reknown Women Share Their Life Experiences for Women’s History Month
By Christal Searcy
A celebration and discussion with extraordinary women concluded Women’s History Month at Florida A & M University (FAMU) on March 31.
Mary Breaux Wright, Dr. Heavenly Kimes, Lenora P. Grant Ph. D, Chesley Maddox Dorsey and Congresswoman Gwen Graham discussed trials and triumphs faced through uncharted paths.
Wright is the 24th International president of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc. She spoke of the difficulties of being a leader.
“One of the hardest things as a leader is not to give up and not to give in when things are tough because the final decision rests with the leader. I can’t tell you how many times I go to bed at night and not sleep because there’s a decision that I know that only I can make and that’s not an easy path to have,” she said.
Kimes is an award winning entrepreneur, dentist and reality personality of Married to Medicine. Kimes reflected on how her mother inspired her and how she uses that to inspire others.
“My mother instilled in me that I can do whatever I wanted. I think coming from an under privileged background we think that we don’t have enough or we can’t do what we want. I never worried about the money I just did what my mom told me to do and I just kept moving forward. When I mentor young girls, I tell them ‘just keep going, do something every day to get to your goals and eventually you’ll get there’,” said Kimes.
Grant is a Senior Executive, National Geospatial Intelligence Agency from the Office of National Intelligence. Grant reflected on her journey after being newly wedded to her husband, who wanted to go to medical school.
“I said ‘who’s gonna pay your way because I’m teaching school. There’s no way we can afford medical school,’” she said.
She continued to reflect remembering her husband’s first assignment.
“ I said ‘I don’t want to go now that you’re making money because you’re taking me away from my family.’ We went to Japan anyway, it was the best experience I had,” she added.
“I worked with the Marine Corp. We went to England; I worked for the Air Force and again it was a wonderful experience, We came back to the states and I worked for the Army, worked for the Pentagon, and I met a lot of people along the way,” said Grant.
“My journey as far as my career has always been to give back. To whom much is given much is required,” said Grant.
Dorsey is the President and chief executive officer of Access 1 Communications Corp. Dorsey reflected on a personal crisis she overcame.
“I was 17 years-old living in Germany and I had just managed to get a job in Paris for the summer when I got a call saying my sister was involved in a serious car accident and I had to go to London right away. She was in a fatal car accident. She was three weeks from delivery; my sister was able to give birth before she died to my nephew. Fast forward I went to college and went through my whole career always feeling like I was doing it for myself and her,” said Dorsey.
Graham is an attorney, politician and U.S. Representative of Florida’s Second Congressional District. Graham reflected on a difficult challenge she faced growing up with an eating disorder.
“I was known in the family. I had three younger sisters and I remember someone saying ‘isn’t it great that Gwen is smart.’ I knew that was code for she’s not as attractive as her three other sisters and that’s how I perceived it at that time. I speak to young women and I speak to young men because it’s not just a women issue. You can get over this and you can achieve great things in life. I sit here as the first Congresswoman ever elected from North Florida,” said Graham.
FAMU President Elmira Mangum hosted several events throughout the month of March focused on highlighting the extraordinary reach of women in history. Mangum closed the March 31 event with a few words.
“Each of the panelists exhibited extraordinary reach in their profession and personal lives. The wisdom and leadership they have shown should serve as a shining beacon to all of us that no obstacle is too large to overcome,” Mangum said.