Women of CMU 11. Mariam Saad

Senior and international student, Mariam Saad, poses for a portrait in the Bovee University Center on the campus of Central Michigan Universit, Saturday, March 25, 2017.”An empowered woman is a woman who knows what she wants and works hard to get it without letting any obstacles stand in her face. An empowered woman is a woman who has equal rights with any man and is capable of making a difference and change around her, and is doing so…empowerment is not exclusive for men or women, it is matter of character, a trait of hard working, of determination, of faith in yourself and self confidence,” states Mariam. 


Say hello to our 11th #WomenofCMU, Mariam Saad. Mariam is a member and leader in the Muslim Student Association (MSA) here at Central Michigan University. I have had the honor of knowing Mariam for two years and she is someone who always brightens my day and has inspired me so much. MSA brings Muslim students together in a warm environment. They build connections and break barriers between students. They also raise awareness about Islam and try to get rid of some of the stereotypes and misconceptions around their faith.

“MSA was a home for me when I first came here. I didn’t know anyone and they welcomed me. I had a place to go, I had common ground between them, and I felt comfortable. At the same time it helped me build a relationship with so many people on the basis of raising awareness and spreading knowledge about Islam, which is something that I love,” Mariam explains.

MSA is an amazing organization on campus and they do such wonderful, inspiring and impactful things for CMU students. One of these was leading and organizing the march on campus this past Jan/Feb against the “Muslim Ban” that was being passed. This was such an emotional time because they had the support of so many people on campus. I know when I was there I saw tears in my friends eyes and I had to give her a hug and let her know that I will always have her back. Mariam lead chants and motivated the crowd through the cold. I was in awe of all that she was accomplishing and all that MSA was doing, it was beautiful.

“Organizing the march was a huge things and we didn’t actually expect it to have this outcome and turn out, but it turned out beautifully. We were working on it with our heart and souls, it touched each one of us personally. When we were working on it we tried to reach out to as much people as we know and more and more. During the march we were too emotional, too happy, too proud, and connected to everyone around us. It was amazing,” states Mariam.

Mariam is an international student from Lebanon. She is studying speech therapy and has great aspirations to do such amazing things with people. She graduates and leave the US this spring and I am so saddened that CMU will be absent of this amazing force of a woman.

“Islam is a religion of peace. It is a religion of beauty. I guess it is being misrepresented and people are seeing it in a very not realistic image…There are a lot of Muslim women who are not wearing a hijab, for me I am wearing a hijab. So, I am pretty clear what my religion is. The first thing they (people) see me wearing a hijab is that I am oppressed, I don’t have a choice, I am not that educated, I might be rolled by men, and all of these things, but it is not true. I am actually a person who is very educated, very independent, who works hard to get to her dreams…It is something that people get to know after they meet me,” Mariam explains.

Mariam continues to educate and change the way people think, little by little. She has made such a huge impact in my life and I know so many others, from MSA and around campus. I think Mariam is everything you want to see in an empowered woman. She is independent, proud, strong, and she doesn’t let anything stop her. I admire her so much for that.

“It is important for women to know that whatever is politically happening, that doesn’t mean they can change the way that they look at themselves or who they truly are, because they are powerful before that and will stay the same way after that. They need to know that they have enough power to actually make a difference and make a change of what people think about them. Maybe this political issue that is happening will help them (women) know the value that they have for themselves more, because no one would fight something they are not afraid of. For them to fight women, it means that they are afraid of them and this means that they (women) are really powerful. They (women) should know that the poor they have in a society is way beyond what they think they do…There are so many elements of society that wouldn’t on without women,” Mariam informs.

Thank you Mariam for everything you do for this campus, for MSA, and for women all around. You are an amazing soul and I am so proud to know you. Continue to break barriers and shut down stereotypes. I cannot wait to see all the great things you accomplish later in life. Thank you for leaving your stamp on this campus.

Women of CMU 10. Payton Salomon

Central Michigan sophomore, Payton Salomon, poses for a portrait in the lobby of Larzelere hall on the campus of Central Michigan University, Saturday, March 25, 2017. “For me, when I first came to Central I thought feminism was something completely different than what is actually is. So, when I came to Central, I thought it was just females overcoming men, which I don’t feel like that defines feminism anymore. I feel that feminism is standing up for equality between men and woman and allowing us to be at the same point. Not as much equality, but equity too. They (men) get this privilege that we will never have and I think that by just giving us the same opportunities, we can do what we were meant to do and reach our own heights. Feminism for me is starting at the same point and allowing us to take is further…I want to have the same opportunities as everyone else,” Payton explains.


Say hello to our 10th #WomenofCMU!

Payton Salomon is a sophomore here at Central Michigan University studying in the Bio Medical field. She is in the honors college and a research assistant studying C. Elegant worms and their genetics involving stem cell research. When she is not in classes or doing research, she volunteers with the Flint Task Force Water Crisis on campus, participates as the Treasure for Larzelere Hall Council, and is soon to be a apart of Residential Life this fall as a member of Saxe Hall staff.

“I am going to be a doctor, no one is going to tell me I am not going to be,” states Payton

Payton is showing the world that gender does not matter when it comes to being a leader in this field. She is a woman in the STEM field and as a sophomore, she is already doing research. Research is extremely hard work; it takes up a lot of time and requires immense amount of dedication. She is  making an impact on campus by showing empowerment through women in science fields. Even in today’s society, there are still stereotypes places on women in these careers, but Payton has never let that stop her from following her dreams.

“I think it is very empowering, because I feel like a lot of people assume that it is going to be males (in the medical field). It also feels really cool when someone asks you, ‘oh are you going into the medical field,’ and they ask me if I am going to be a nurse or a PA, and I’m like nope, I’m going to be a doctor. Then they ask, ‘oh do you want to be an OBGYN?’ and Im like nope, I wanna be a trauma surgeon. People are kind of surprised, but they are always very like ‘ wow that is so cool of you, we need more women in this field.’ …I am going to be  woman taking on this role and it is going to be very satisfactory once I get there,” Payton explains.

In high school, Payton was a part of a competitive business group called “Business Professionals of America.” She came 2nd in the nation and 1st in the state for advanced spreadsheet application. This is amazing, because this part of the competition is very male dominant, so for Payton to show that she is a woman, she is smart, and kicking ass, she demonstrates that women can do anything and everything. Without her knowing it, these actions and the way she presents herself is positively impacting women. Payton is a prime example of what it means to be a powerful woman in a male dominated field. I am so honored to work with Payton on Saxe staff next year and in awe of all of her impressive accomplishments.

In addition, this campaign focuses on the empowerment of women. We all have our own views on how today’s society is when it comes to women and how we should be treated and loved. March is women’s history month, but lets not forget about the women of today, like Payton.

“So like obviously we do focus on women of the past because if you don’t know your history, it will repeat itself…But I think the women of today, a lot has changed in the past 100 years, from voting rights, women in the work force and stuff like that. We are obliviously still at a disadvantage and have stereotypes, but we have to see that we are so much different then where women were. Yet, we can’t just settle with where we are because of how far we’ve come. Women should not be paid any less then a man for a similar position or job, like I am literally so dumbfounded by that, it makes no sense to me…I think that with the political jazz that has been happening, I think it almost a step backwards. He is not saying things that are empowering women. He is not helping us rise to this challenge we are already given…Its 2017, we shouldn’t be treating a woman like an object anymore, and people still do. We are not trying to take two steps back, but at the same time put it in a positive light. Seeing someone with so much power say stuff like that, I think has caused quiet a bit of an uproar and a lot of people were really upset. It kind o lit a fire, if people were settling with how much progress we have had, you see something like that you are like ‘oh wait no, this isn’t cool, this isn’t going to happen’. It fires people up and people got more involved and more inspired,” explains Payton.

Thank you Payton for not letting anything stop you and pushing through any obstacle you face. You truly are an inspirational person and please continue to show people how amazing you are. You will be the best doctor and rightfully so.


Women of CMU 9. Ericka Magee

Senior Ericka Magee poses for a portrait in the Bovee University Center on the campus of Central Michigan University, Friday, March 24, 2017. “I would define a feminist or empowered woman as someone who looks at women as a strong leader. Someone who doesn’t think that women should just be in a corner, or not listen to or be misunderstood. I think feminists are the people that value women enough to say ‘hey we have a voice as well and we are strong as well.’ …I feel feminists are the leaders that show, hey look we are doing this, and then they are the voices that show there are other people doing this as well,” explains Ericka. 


Ericka Magee is the 9th #WomenofCMU! Ericka is the President of Phenomenal Brown Girl (PBG) here at CMU. PBG strives to empower women of all ethnicities and diverse backgrounds. In addition, Ericka is a volunteer with the Volunteer Center and with PBG, she has been a site leader this past winter for Alternative Breaks, she is a member of Rampage Dance Team, and she is a peer advocate for international students here on campus.

“The need for more diversity on our campus in a different way. We do have a lot of women empowerment organizations, but they are directed to only towards African American women. For our organization (PBG), we wanted to have to have African American women, but open it up to other peoples as well, saying we do want to be empowered, but we don’t want you to feel like you are not empowered. We want to form a bond with all cultures, because if I don’t understand anyone else’s culture then I can’t believe I could fully be myself. What got me interested in (PBG) was that fact that everyone on our executive board, this is our first year, so we all push for the same goal. We want every woman on campus to feel empowered, not just one specific race or culture,” Ericka explains.

PBG focuses on four main values: mentoring, sisterhood, empowerment and service. This is PBG’s first year on campus and Ericka is a leader in making this organization start its lasting impact here at CMU. PBG hosts a lot of events and collaborations with others RSOs on campus.

“My goal is at the end of this is just seeing people grow. Like when I set up the E-Board, I set it up to people in places that they weren’t comfortable in. It is so great for me to see people reach those goals they never thought they could reach. Also, adding more people to our organization and encouraging them and pushing them to do things that they didn’t think they would,” states Ericka.

Even though PBG has just started this year, it has already impacted those involved. The courage to start a new organization and not know what could happen is extremely empowering. Ericka really shows her love for empowerment, mentorship and most importantly making all women feel equal. This is huge for our community to have. Ericka definitely fits with my 5 defined pillars of feminism (look at previous blogs to know what those are). We need to truly focus on the women of today, in our communities, our schools, because they are doing amazing things. Thank you, Ericka, for all that you do on this campus and empowering women of all cultures.

“I think we need to celebrate them (women of today) and continue to let them know that they are valued. I think a lot of people forget that you came from a woman. I know that is something that takes a man to do as well, as far as all the genetic things. A woman raised you or helped raise you, and I think that people forget that. A lot of times women do more than just housework, they go to work, they make money for the house, and then after an eight hour day they cook, they clean, and they take care of the kids. I feel like that is something very strong and a lot of people can’t do…We do need to celebrate that because a lot of times it goes unnoticed,” Ericka explains.


Women of CMU 8. Kara Agby

CMU senior, Kara Agby poses for a portrait in the Fabiano, Emmons and Woldt lobby on the campus of Central Michigan University, Friday, March 24, 2017. “Feminism is such a loaded word. Every person you ask will give a different answer and I think that is what makes it so unique. The whole movement is so unique. For me, when I think of feminism, I think of equality. I would say those words are nearly the same. I think of equality not only for women but the LGBTQ community, Black Lives Matter, whoever you may be and whatever identity you hold, that is what feminism is about. It is about getting everyone on that equal playing field. It is about creating equality. I also think it about not putting other people down about what their feminism is. So, if I look at you and that is a different feminism then what I am acting through. It wouldn’t be feminism if I put you down for that. So being a role model for what that equality looks like is super important,” states Kara.


Say hello to our 8th #WomenofCMU Kara Agby. Kara is a Resident Assistant in Emmons Hall, she is a member of SAPA, works in the East Area Success Center, is a part of the homecoming committee with the Student Activities and Involvement, she is an academic orientation mentor, and a CMU campus ambassador.

SAPA is one of the most impactful experience for Kara. This is her second year, going on three, as a member of this organization.

“I cannot give SAPA enough credit as an organization. Not only for what they have done for me but, what they do for others. I never thought I would be part of a group that had such an impact on people and knowing I am a part of that blows my mind. It almost doesn’t seem real at all. Something that I have learned from SAPA and all the people here is that stories have such a big impact. I have really gained a passion and interest in people’s stories and really listening to where they come from and what made them who they are today. There is so much value in where people come from…Through SAPA and to be able to be that listening ear to people has changed my life in so many ways,” explains Kara.

There are so many ways you can impact our campus. Kara does this as a SAPA member, but also as an RA. She works with first-year students in helping them find personal growth and their identity. In addition, Kara gets the opportunity to be the first face people meet when they come to CMU for a tour or orientation and getting the chance to impact them from the ground up. Kara just glows when she talks about her passions and her roles as a mentor.

“As far as empowered women, I think being a role model is so important. As a woman living the past 21 years of my life, you go through certain things and everyone’s life events look so different, but it is being a role model to other women saying yes I can do this, I am doing this, and you can do it too. Through everything I have done, I have tried to act that way as well and to not put others down for what their process looks like,” Kara states.

Kara explains that it was the mentors she had that encouraged her to get involved in the organizations that she is in now. They saw something in her and now she is experiencing that same feeling seeing that growth and potential in the students she mentors. Empowerment is a circle, once you empower someone, they will empower someone and so forth. Kara is a role model and fits with my defined pillars of feminism: dignity, self-responsibility, empowerment, acting in kindness, and using one’s voice for a positive impact. Kara is correct in her statement that we all define feminism differently, but one thing is that each definition intersects in some shape or form. Thank you, Kara, for all that you do for this campus and our Chippewa community.

“It is so important (to recognize women). I actually think about this l the time because where we are at right now, we are already a repressed group. Which, it really shouldn’t be that way because if you look at all the things women are doing and really all the things women have done in the past, we are right up there. I think that it is so important to recognize women of today because we look very different from the past. There is a quote, ‘if we fail to recognize the past, history will repeat itself,’ and so I think it is important to honor where we have been but so important to look at where we are now and where we are going…we are capable of som much,” informs Kara.


Women of CMU 7. Madison Rodriguez

Junior, Madison Rodriguez poses for a portrait in the Anspach study lounge on the campus of Central Michigan University, Wednesday, March 22, 2017. “To me, feminism is just promoting the equality of all genders. I think that is the most important part of feminism and I know that a lot of people misconstruct it. It is equality for all genders, equality in all senses, so social, political, economic, it is so multi-dimensional. A lot of people get left out in the conversation of feminism, queer women, trans women, women of color are left out of the conversation. I think feminism needs to be all encompassing of all women and of all people to promote equality,” states Madison. 


Say hello to our seventh #WomenofCMU Madison Rodriguez. Madison is the current President of the Organization of Women Leaders (OWL.s). With OWLs Madison gains opportunities to lead other empowered women and chances to stand up for domestic violence and women’s issues. Madison is also a mentor with a Native American program at Shepard once a week. She is a volunteer with the Isabella County rotating Homeless Shelter. She is involved in multiple writing organizations, such as Word Hammer and Poets’ Collective. Lastly, Madison is a leader with Central Michigan Action (CMA).

Madison actually brought back the “Slut Walk” to CMU’s campus and is leading OWLs in running the event, set for April 8cth. “Slut Walk” started after a recording of a police officer stating that women should not dress slutty after an alleged sexual assault. This spurred woman on campus across the country to march and protest the word slut, when it comes to sexual assault.

“What you are wearing shouldn’t matter. Those things don’t matter, in cases of sexual assault. So Slut Walk was born. It was sort of taking back the word ‘slut’ and just bring attention to the rape culture that exists on college campuses and slut shaming that a lot of women receive for reporting assault on campus…One of the things I wanted to do as President when I ran was to reinstate a Slut Walk, because I think it is so important, especially with the political climate that we are in now, we need that support more than ever…This Slut Walk is really aiming to be all inclusive, that is something that we find really important to us,” Madison states.

Being a member of OWLs, Madison is a defined woman leader on campus. Madison is from a small town and a catholic school system. She defines all odds to stand up for what she believes a woman should be and promotes that in her daily actions. People are afraid of the unknown and when a woman is strong and empowered, it can be scary for some closed minded people.

“An empowered woman has so many different faces. It is really just a woman who has the opportunity to be whatever she wants to be and loving what she is doing. I think my goal as a woman leader is that other women know whatever they choose to do, do so freely and enjoy it. I think we need to stop shaming women into believing that they should or shouldn’t do certain things and sort of let women make their own choices because, they are often really beautiful,” Madison explains.

Madison defines a woman leader as someone who has “passion, determination and makes a difference in their lives and the lives of others.” Madison basically describes herself with this statement. She is all of these things and so much more. She has been a part of multiple activist marches and rally’s on campus and even participated in the Women’s March in Washington D.C. She was also the student who received the infamous antisemitic valentine this February. Madison made sure that she informed her friends in the Jewish community and informed the campus community that this is not what CMU stands for, that we cannot accept this as okay.  Madison has already made a huge impact on CMU’s campus and fits perfectly with my five pillars of feminism. Thank you, Madison, for continuing to make a positive impact on Central’s campus and consistently standing up for friends, peers, minorities and issues that are close to your heart.

“We focus a lot on the past like women’s empowerment is done, like the fights over. We honor all these fantastic women of our past, who are so phenomenal, and thank them for all the progress like there is nothing else to be achieved, when in reality we still have a long way to go. I think that it is important to focus on these women of today. I don’t just mean big figure women. I mean women everywhere, women in small towns, big towns, women who stay at home, women who work, women everywhere…Just recognizing and promoting the strength of women. I think when we focus on those things we can just keep pushing forward. I don’t think the fight is ever going to be over, I think it is always going to continue, but we are taking steps, we are staying strong, and we are uniting together…keep fighting, keep being vocal, and don’t be silenced,” Madison infoms.

Life of an Injured Gymnast

<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/209675376″>Life of an Injured Gymnast</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/user43506384″>Alison Zywicki</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

Samantha (Sami) Lewis is a Central Michigan freshman gymnast from San Antonio, Texas. Lewis got injured around November and originally thought that it was just a muscle injury. So, Lewis continued to practice in the rigorous and intense training for the collegiate sport. Around January, Lewis started to experience severe semi-paralysis an ticking in her legs. It hurt to walk and there were days when you physically could not move. There were fears that she might never be able to compete, which is huge for a collegiate gymnast in her freshman year. After an MRI and multiple x-rays it was concluded that Lewis has, basically, two vertebrae connecting to her bones in her back snapped off, thus putting her out for 8-months and forcing her to not compete in the 2016-2017 MAC season. CMU is one of the top MAC schools for gymnastics and Lewis began to think that her freshman year was over.

“Not competing has been hard, especially as a freshman. Like you come from a club gym where every meet you compete no matter what you wanted to do or you didn’t have to fight for a line up spot. It was just, if you were there at practice, you could compete, that is just how it was. So, I guess it was a really big let down knowing that I wasn’t going to be able to compete so early in my freshman year…I am very hopeful for next year…The hardest part was just facing the fact that I was not going to ever put on the maroon and gold leo for my entire freshman year,” Lewis explained.

For a gymnast competition is everything. When you train all-year-round, it is hard to recognize when an injury can be pushed through or if it is something serious. Lewis continues to go through physical therapy and work her way up to being close to 100% again for the next season, while being the biggest cheerleader in the stands for her team. This is not uncommon for gymnasts to get injured or be out for the season, a majority of their team is struggling with injuries and Lewis was willing to share what the life is like for an injured gymnast in the video above.


Women of CMU 6. Katie Rae

Big Rapids senior Katie Rae poses for a portrait in the Bovee University Center on the campus of Central Michigan University, Sunday, March 19, 2017. “To me, a feminist is an empowered woman. A woman that is got a fire under herself to make the world into a better place, a better version of how she sees it. Create herself into a better version each and every day, striving to create a better world,”  explains Katie Rae 


Meet Big Rapids senior, Katie Rae. I have the pleasure of working with Kaite Rae in Saxe hall and knowing her for 2 years. Katie is an inspiring woman and someone I look up to, which makes me so excited to spotlight her in this campaign.

Katie has been involved in a variety of organizations here at CMU since she was a freshman. She is a Leader Advancement Scholar, she was the Vice President of Breaking the Silence: a suicide prevention RSO, she is actively involved in Alternative Breaks having been on 6 trips and sighting leading 2 of those, she is a Resident Assistant in Saxe Hall (with me), before Reslife she was a Leadership Safari guide for 2 years, she is a mentor through College 101: an organization that helps “at-risk” students find possibilities in higher education, she is a desk associate in the Residential Halls, and she is a life group/bible study leader with His House Christian Fellowship.

“Through the Leader Advancement Scholarship, I am a mentor. So each cohort gets to have a mentee in the cohort below you. I get to be the mentor to a girl named Amanda Yats, she is one of my favorite human beings on this campus, and it was really cool opportunity to really shape and help someone else’s  college experience…College 101, I get to be a mentor with that as well, with high school students who are labeled at risk. I get to be a person who looks at them in a different light. I get to look at them as a person that matters and I have no pre-conceived ideas of who they are. I am a free, unbiased face to them; just asking them what they are passionate about, what their goals are, and how I can help them get to college,” Katie explains.

Katie connects extremely well with those she mentors, but also with those she meets in her involvements or in her everyday life. She sets a spark in people and encourages them to find themselves. She event impacted a student with College 101 and she states her conversations with him was great because she “got to see a fire in his eyes and a spark within him that he wanted to pursue college. It was a different view that he’s ever had because he was never talked to in the way that I talked to him.”

In addition, Katie is actively involved in social justice issues. Through all of her Alternative Breaks, she has helped with historical preservation, suicide prevention with the Trevor Project: a suicide hotline for the LGBTQ community, hunger and homeless, adult special education, substance abuse with Harvest Farms, and lastly, working with the elderly. Katie could talk your ear off about her ABs, but the ones that made the most impact was the one involving substance abuse. Harvest Farms is run by The Denver Rescue Mission. Katie is now applying and trying for an internship with this organization to continue her passion that she found from her experiences.

“I have a huge heart and a huge passion for helping others in general, so there isn’t a specific issue that I am more passionate about because if I am helping in any I am having the time of my life,” Katie states.

Katie is an empowered woman and doesn’t rub it in your face, you can just feel it. She has a fire of her own and is truly going for a career in her passion of helping others. Katie 100% fits in not only my 5-pillar definition of feminism but any definition of feminism. She is proud, encouraging, outspoken, an advocate and so much more.

“We need to (spotlight empowered women) because we are an under-represented group. More women are graduating from colleges than men are right now and there are more women with leadership roles on campuses all over the world right now. That is under-recognized because, if you are looking at CEOs it is still men. I don’t know if that is a generation gap or if we get to that point as women and don’t feel that empowerment anymore to go above our typical expectations. It is super important (to recognize women) because women have huge hearts, and men have huge hearts too, but as women, as caretaker, we are very compassionate and I feel as though our world has been lacking that lately.So I think it is really important to empower women and to be an empowered woman in this society so that we can have a society of love, compassion and treating people as people,” Katie explains.

Thank you,Katie for focusing your energy on empowerment. You are a huge impact on this campus and you have helped so many. Continue to put your stamp on this world.

Big Rapids senior Katie Rae poses for a portrait in the Bovee University Center on the campus of Central Michigan University, Sunday, March 19, 2017.