There was once a time not long ago when women were told to stay home, raise the kids, and that was all that was needed or expected of her. She wasn't allowed to dream. She wasn't allowed to desire more. She wasn't allowed to have an education or career. I was raised in this kind of culture and family system, there was no pathway for women in my family to do something other than be a mom and wife. This kind of thinking wasn't all that uncommon in America either.
It was only in the late 1800's that the first university began admitting women students. Even then, these women were only allowed to take classes, but could not receive a degree. In the early 1900's, though a few more universities began granting access to women, limited resources and support prevented women from receiving an education. Women accounted for only 10-20% of degree earners in the 1920's. Higher education wasn't designed to let women in, it was designed to keep them out. And this doesn't even address the issues for women of color or various socioeconomic status.
By the 1960's-1970's, I presume women got tired of waiting on the sidelines and they began fighting for equal educational opportunities. This all leads us to today, with over 50% degree earners in bachelors, masters, and doctoral programs being awarded to women. #womenstrong seems fitting for this kind of generational achievement.
Today, I will walk across a stage in front of 60,000 people to accept my masters degree. I am only able to do this because of the many women who went before me.
The women who didn't listen when they were told to stay home, do the dishes, and support the dreams of everyone else.
The women who advocated and fought to be the first in their generational line.
The women who thought they could do it, so they did.
And the women who helped them along the way.
We are all only here and able to pursue our dreams because the generation before us. It can be easy to think that dreams are just for ourselves. Some might even call dreams selfish. But the truth is, we dream for the future of our country and the future of our world.
As I accept my degree and status today, I do so with the next generation in mind. My dreams are not my own. My accomplishments are not my own. These things belong to God, the people around me, and the future generations. My only job is to steward it well and continue the legacy of those who have walked before me.
"We will not hide them from their descendants; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done... Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands." -Psalm 78:4
Source: National Center for Education Statistics