Lees-McRae Office of Inclusive Excellence to host discussion panel for Women’s History Month

The Lees-McRae Office of Inclusive Excellence will be hosting their second discussion panel on topics of diversity and inclusion on Monday, March 28. “The Women of Lees-McRae,” a discussion on the legacy of women in the High Country, will be hosted in Evans Auditorium and King-Shivell Lounge that evening from 6:00-7:30 p.m. with a reception immediately before from 5:00-6:00 p.m.

The panel honors Women’s History Month and will feature four noteworthy women from the High Country: senior Britney Augustin, junior Emma Ryerson, alumna and former Director of Advancement Services Frankie Ramsey Needham (’55), and Director of Summer Theatre Janet Speer.

The evening will begin with a reception in King-Shivell Lounge, after which the panelists will take to the stage to lead a discussion about their experiences as women in the High Country today.

“Women in general have so much to offer,” Business Administration major Augustin said. “We go through so much, and on top of what we go through we still have so much talent, and so much prosperity, and so much we can offer to the world. Women’s History Month is just to acknowledge that because I feel like sometimes women’s history gets overshadowed.”

Ryerson, a Pre-Veterinary and Biomedical Science major, agrees that highlighting women’s history in a public discussion platform like this can be very powerful. She hopes to bring topics of intersectionality to the table during the panel.

“I honestly feel like, as a woman, it’s good to know that we’re not all the same and that our differences make us stronger. Whether we’re white, Black, or transgender, we all have a uniqueness that makes us so great as a population,” Ryerson said. “Women are soaring in the industry I hope to enter, the medical field, right now, but what people tend to forget is that it’s not all women. My best friend is a Black woman, and she is the only Black woman in our whole major, so while we may be triumphing as a gender, we aren’t doing the same for minorities.”

In addition to the panel, the event will also feature some words from Jennie Harpold, the director of the New Opportunity School for Women (NOSW). Harpold will be speaking about NOSW’s mission, which is to improve the educational, financial, and personal circumstances of low-income women in the High Country. Having been founded by Lees-McRae alumna Jane Baucom Stephenson (’57), NOSW is just one of many keystones of women’s history here at Lees-McRae.

“The women in the Lees-McRae community are so happy to help you and get you anything you might need to get yourself a leg up because they know what it’s like to try to do something great and be put down because you’re a woman, or be discriminated against because you’re a woman,” Augustin said. “I really love the community amongst the women in Banner Elk, and that's something I’ll take with me and be inspired by to help others the way I have been helped.” 

This event is free and open to the community. Students, faculty, staff, and community members are invited to share in this evening of celebration and learn more about the history of women in the beautiful region they call home.

By Maya JarrellMarch 18, 2022
Campus LifeCommunity