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.

Women of CMU 5. Autumn Gairaud

CMU student Autumn Gairaud poses for a portrait in the Bovee University Center on the campus of Central Michigan University, Sunday, March 19, 2017. “I would define a feminist as someone that believes in and advocates for equal opportunity for all people, especially women…,” states Autumn. 

 

Autumn Gairaud is a woman of many talents here at Central Michigan University. I had the pleasure of sitting down with Autumn on Sunday night to learn about her and her involvements on campus. Autumn is a member and the recruitment coordinator of Sexual Aggression Peer Advocates (S.A.P.A), an intern for the office of LGBTQ, is an activist with Central Michigan Action where she is the gender and sexuality campaign director, she is a member of Students Advocating Gender Equality (S.A.G.E.) where she is their “zine” editor, and  she is a member of College Democrats.

These are some of the most impactful organizations to be part of on out campus. First off, if you do not know, SAPA is an anonymous help-line to support students facing/dealing with sexual assault, stalking, domestic violence, etc. SAGE is an organization that works to better gender equality, especially with the LBGTQ community. With this organization Autumn helped coordinate and facilitate a town hall on campus about the Gender and Sexuality Center campaign for the CMU and Mount Pleasant area. This event not only got campus new coverage, but local coverage as well, making a huge impact on our community.

“Throughout the semester I have done a lot of advocacy for that (Gender and Sexuality Center). So meeting with President Ross, met with him a few times, and helped put on the town hall. As well, Central Michigan Action has done a few protests and rallies throughout last semester and this semester on campus, both for the GSC and other stuff on campus,” explains Autumn.

It takes a lot of courage to stand up for what you believe in and consistently fight for your views and values. Autumn does this with every single organization she is apart of, as well as in her daily life. When first coming to CMU Autumn met people in her Residential Hall who were involved in some activism on campus. In addition, Autumn is studying Political Science and wants to change the world and make changes in her community.

“I think it was just advocating for women and marginalized groups, like the LGBTQ community, was something I am really passionate about…I am a really firm believer that whatever side of the aisle, whatever your political policy is, getting more women elected into office, getting more LGBTQ people elected into office, and people of color is really important, because I think representation is important,” Autumn states.

There is a lot we can do for our community and Autumn has become a recognizable face for the issues she supports and fights for. Autumn is a self-defined feminist and for me that is the most powerful thing you can define yourself as. She fits into the 5-pillars of feminism (defined my me): dignity, self-responsbilty, empowerment, acting in kindness, and using one’s voice for positive impact. Thank you Autumn for all that you do, it was amazing meeting you, and you are truly and inspiration.

“I think that we celebrate women of the past because I think it is important to remember women have changed the world and I think it is important to remind each other of empowered women now because when are still changing the world and still making waves and organization things, like the Women’s March. I think when we look at things as just history it means that that’s been done and we forget to focus on the awesome things that are being done now. I think when we see that there are other empowered women making things happen, whether it is on our own campus, or in the state, or country, it can kind of re-engerize us when things seem impossible or tough…being reminded that there are other empowered women pushing through to what we have and still trying to make things better, I just think that can re-inspire and re-empower you that it is worth it to get up the next day and keep fighting for those things,” Autumn states.

Great work Autumn, keep doing you!

Women of CMU 4. Taylor Brown

West Bloomfield, junior Taylor Brown poses for a portrait in her room in Woldt Hall on the campus of Central Michigan University, Friday, March 17, 2017. “(A feminist is) someone who is just pro-woman, just pro-rights. I did a bulletin board on the Women’s March on Washington and a lot of people don’t know that the Women’s March actually advocates for a lot of different issues, not just women’s rights. An empowered woman is being empowered in all areas. I think a lot of times people think to be pro something you have to be anti something else, which isn’t true. So being a feminist and an empowered woman is empowering all groups or all people who have been oppressed or discriminated against…Being pro-feminist or pro-woman means being empowered in yourself to empower others through your actions, your speaking, though just what you are doing,” Taylor explains.

Taylor Brown is our fourth #WomenofCMU.

Taylor is a Junior from West Bloomfield, MI, who is involved in a wide range of organizations on Central Michigan’s Campus. Taylor is a Multicultural Advisor in Woldt Hall. She is Vice President for Minority of Medical Students. She volunteers with Geer-Up; an organization that helps in-city students prepare for secondary education through the CMU Central of Inclusion and Diversity. She is a Leadership Advancement Scholar, a Multicultural Academic Scholar, and a college volunteer facilitator corps member. Lastly, Taylor is a bible study leader through Intervarsity with Black Campus Ministry; providing a safe space for black students on campus to explore their religion no matter where they fall on the spectrum.

This is so much on one person’s plate and Taylor handles it all with grace, making her a perfect fit for #WomenofCMU. Taylor was active in her high school community and continues to be a part of something bigger than just her to her experiences here at CMU.

“I think first coming in as a CMU student, I was involved in high school, but then I was kinda trying to re-establish myself as I came to college. First gaining the relationships here, I literally met my best friends from my freshman year roommates…meeting people who love you unconditionally and are there for you for those late night chats. As well as opportunities to see different communities and passions of people I nescessarily were exposed to but didnt dive into…Also being able to be an advocate and learning how to better be an ally for different situations or circumstances. Just educating myself on different issues and to be able to edcuate other people as well as coming back to my job as a Multicultural Advisor…(this leads too) my imapct on campus is to be that friend, that mentor, that sister, that person to look up to,” Taylor explains.

Taylor does openly define herself as an empowered woman and a feminist. She explains that feminsim, like any support of something is not hating the other, it is understanding both. With all that is occurring this today’s world it is hard to idenitfy with these terms proudly, espeically as a woman in a minority group.

“Growing a lot of miniorities will tell you that you have to work twice as hard as your counterpartners. That is just soemthing that kinda gets instilled in you, espeically in my household growing up because I grew up in a pridominantly white area my entire life…Just because you are a miniority doesn’t mean your expereinces are universial, we all experience different things and other peoples transitions (to CMU campus) might not have been as easy as mine because of what I grew up with. So being able to see being African American on a pridominantly white campus, especially white, christian campus (even though CMU is not presented in that way), I think it is jsut something that you have to be proud of who you are because that next person will be looking at you and saying if they can do it, I can do it too,” Taylor states .

It is important to recognize women who are different than us, but more importantly women who are impacting people around us, even those different than us. I think Taylor is a prime example of a woman on campus who is strong in her faith, her identity and her knowledge to help empower and educate others around her everday. Yet again, another amazing woman who fits with my five pillars of feminism, as stated in my previous posts. It is not hard to fine women who want to make a difference but you need to find women who strive to do more than just that.

Continue to leave your stamp on this campus Taylor, we are so proud to call you a Chippewa. Fire Up.

Women of CMU 3. Maggie Lenard

Dorr sophomore, Maggie Lenard poses for a portrait in the Fabiano/Emmons/Woldt lobby on the campus of Central Michigan University, Thursday March 16, 2017. “(An empowered woman is) somebody who is not afraid to stand up for what they believe in, stand up for people who don’t feel like that can stand up for themselves. Being empowered is somebody who doesn’t really worry about what other people have to say, they stand strong in their convictions and they do what they know is right,” Maggie informs. 

 

Meet Maggie Lenard. Maggie is a sophomore at Central Michigan University from Dorr, Michigan who is making her impact as a political activist on campus.

Maggie is the President of the CMU chapter of Turning Point USA, which advocates for limited government and free speech, she is also a member of Civil Discourse Society and College Republicans. Maggie focuses her impact on helping others expand their political views, gain a unique standpoint on situations you would not have thought to look at, and broaden perspectives.

“A lot of people my age now or on college campuses are becoming more exposed to things, like the 2016 election. Not understanding why things are happening and how things work.I am really interested in politics, but I am also not a confrontational person, so I don’t enjoy arguing with other people, but I do enjoy learning from other people and offering my insight to help them…I think have made a real difference in bring people’s attention to things that are happening around the world, like issues we have here when it comes to women and feminism, or things around the world like with Syria. I think I have made a pretty positive impact on my friends making them become more politically informed,” states Maggie.

Maggie has also participated in a few marches on campus and politically related conferences. One of the activist movements on campus that Maggie took part in was tthe rally against the “Muslim Ban”.

Maggie informa, “my role there was not necessarily to protest the government but to show people, our peers, our friends, our Muslim-American fellow students that we stand with them. That they have a place here and belong here just as much as anyone else.”

Maggie does not inflict her views onto other, but focuses her efforts to educate her peers. She has dealt with backlash as a politically informed woman. People can tend to look at collegiate women as though they are little girls or not as knowledgable about certain topics, this can be a challenge for women to feel comfortable voicing their opinions and growing as leaders in our society.  She has had classmates sort of talk down to her after countering their position. Maggie amazingly shows growth from these situations and allows them to motivate her to show people that she is just as serious as her male peers.

Maggie fits with my defined pillars of feminism: dignity, self-responsbilty, empowerment, acting in kindness, and using one’s voice for good. She has a passion for politics and uses this passion to empower others, use her voice to educate and show dignity, plus integrity, when it comes to holding her beliefs, but not shaming others for theirs. Maggie carries herself in a manner that makes you know she is a strong, outspoken woman. I did not know Maggie before our little interview, I only knew of her, but I was able to witness from afar the impact she is having and going to continue to have on our campus community.

“I guess it kind of goes back to being a person that people can come to talk to about things maybe they don’t understand. Like I said, people out age kind of tend to be worried about looking stupid or looking like they don’t understand certain things. I feel like I have made myself available to my peers and people that know me. I am here to help you understand thing and if I don’t understand things I’ll let you know and we work through it together. I want people to feel like that they can come to me for anything, especially anything political…So, I guess my stamp (on this campus) would be being a woman who’s interested and passionate about politics and there for anyone who would like more informed,” Maggie explains.

Thank you Maggie for being one of the woman positively impacting this campus. Continue your work in the political realm and we cannot wait to see all the great things you have yet to accomplish while here at CMU.