During the month of March, Eugenio María de Hostos Community College observes Women’s History Month with many cultural and other learning activities that celebrate the achievements of women throughout the world. For over a decade, these annual celebrations have been organized by Dr. Jerilyn Fisher, Coordinator of Women’s and Gender Studies and Professor in the English Department. Following are this year’s highlights.
SCREENING OF MAESTRA
Maestra, a documentary film that salutes the power of education, was screened at Hostos on March 5th.
Before the showing, filmmaker Catherine Murphy spoke about the heroines of the chronicle—the 250,000 volunteer teachers who joined the Cuban Literacy Campaign of 1961. These volunteers, most of whom were young women, taught a nation to read and write. Through their efforts, they changed innumerable lives, including their own. Among those taught during the Literacy Campaign were women whose husbands forbade them to study and elderly farmers who had never held a pencil amidst the daily drudgery of rural life.
Maestra holds special meaning for Professor Francisco Fernández, Chairperson of the Department of Physical Sciences at Hostos. Both he and his sister had participated in the campaign.
LECTURE BY FRANCES M. GREEN, ESQ.
On March 12th, Frances Green, trial lawyer, legal counselor, and motivational speaker, delivered a thought-provoking lecture that was appreciated by a full house in attendance. President Félix V. Matos Rodríguez introduced Ms. Green whose empowering presentation, “The Challenges and Opportunities of the Global Workforce: Are You Ready?” conveyed that today, neither a person’s gender nor ethnicity is considered a weakness in the competitive labor market. To the contrary, Green pointed out, women and men who have been raised in multi-lingual, multi-cultural families are regarded by many 21st century employers as having valuable, competitive assets in the global marketplace.
SCREENING OF DOÑA INÉS MARÍA MENDOZA
On March 13th, there was a screening of the documentary Doña Inés María de Mendoza: La Palabra Como Destino by award-winning Puerto Rican filmmaker Caridad Sorando Flores. The First Lady of Puerto Rico from 1949 to 1964, Doña Inés was known for her social consciousness and commitment to education and conservation.
WOMEN IN DENTRISTY
On March 17, Women in Dentistry provided Hostos students with an opportunity to hear a panel presentation on the past, present, and future of Hostos’ Dental Hygiene Program as well as dental hygiene careers in general. Also in attendance were students from H.E.R.O. High (a special-area high school that serves as a gateway for healthcare professions founded by The City University of New York, Hostos Community College, Montefiore Medical Center, and the Department of Education.
Organized by Professor Julie Bencosme, Women in Dentistry featured Dr. Amarilis Jacobo, one of the most respected leaders of the Hispanic Dental Community, the Dominican Dental Association, and the Dental field Dr. Jacobo worked with the New York State Dental Association to ensure the continuation of the State’s Medical Program, the primary agency through which underserved residents of the state receive dental services.
BIG APPLE PLAYBACK THEATER
On March 18th, The Big Apple Playback Theater (BAPT) performed at Hostos. BAPT is an improvisational company that brings true stories told by members of the audience to life by using movement, text, metaphor, music, and poetry. It is also an artistic vehicle for building community, providing ample opportunities for laughter, reflection, connection. Working with the theme of “Honoring our Sheroes,” the company brought to life our students’ cherished stories about gratitude, regret, motherly love, loss, and treasured memories of missed grandmothers, teachers, and mentors.
BARBIE AND BODY IMAGE: A MULTICULTURAL PERSPECTIVE
Professor Jennifer Tang, Hostos’ Acquisitions Librarian, is a lifelong Barbie Doll enthusiast and collector. In a presentation on March 20th, Tang spoke about the impact that Barbie had on her while she was growing up; she displayed “members” of her multi-cultural, international Barbie collection and addressed the negative impact on body image that has been attributed to the doll. After clips from a film about Karen Carpenter, the singer who died from heart failure brought on by anorexia, were shown, members of the audience were asked to complete a questionnaire about the Barbie Doll and how she has influenced their own unrealistic ideals of the female body.
SCREENING OF NORTH COUNTRY
On March 26th, Professors Ernest Ialongo and Julie Trachman screened the film North Country, which was inspired by the 2002 book Class Action: The Story of Lois Jenson and the Landmark Case That Changed Sexual Harassment Law by Clara Bingham and Laura Leedy.
Jenson v. Eveleth Taconite Company was the first sexual harassment lawsuit in the United States. Jenson was one of the first women hired to work in the Eveleth iron mine in northern Minnesota. When she and her female co-workers suffered harassment, she filed a complaint in 1984. It took years for Jensen to find an attorney to move the case forward, but eventually more women joined her in the suit. In 1998, the women settled with the company for $3.5 million.
Following the screening, Eugene Sohn, the College’s Chief Diversity Officer, and Mercedes Moscat, Director of Transfer Services, moderated the discussion.
THE ADRIENNE WEISS WOMEN’S HISTORY MONTH ESSAY CONTEST and AWARDS CEREMONY
Adrienne Weiss was an early feminist who volunteered her artistic talents with the famed Judy Chicago Dinner Party Project in the mid-1970s.
In addition to creating wonderful promotional materials for Hostos’ Division of Student Development and Enrollment Management, she also designed posters for the College’s Women’s History Month events.
When Weiss passed away last year, the annual student essay contest was named in her honor.
The Awards Ceremony at the end of March serves as the culminating activity for Women’s History Month.
Students who competed wrote personal essays, based on quotations that they had not seen before, statements about women and gender penned by well-known feminists.
The winners of the 2014 Adrienne Weiss Women’s History Month Essay Contest were, Rita Agboli, Cinthia Alcantara, Shiraz S. Bagaru, Ryan Bannon, Alaine Elie, and Sara Ladino.
On March 27th, six students were awarded prizes and received praise for outstanding essays they composed in February during a proctored writing session.
Aside from celebrating the winners’ achievements, faculty, staff and students enjoyed hearing from guest speaker, Patricia Valoy, a civil engineer and “womanist” blogger who explores opportunities for women, especially Latinas, in the STEM fields. She spoke about writing in one’s own voice and told her personal story of growing up with a single mother, illustrating how women of influence help shape our feminist identities.
About Hostos Community College
Eugenio María de Hostos Community College is an educational agent for change that has been transforming and improving the quality of life in the South Bronx and neighboring communities since 1968. It serves as a gateway to intellectual growth and socioeconomic mobility, as well as a point of departure for lifelong learning, success in professional careers, and transfer to advanced higher education programs. The College’s unique “Student Success Coaching Unit” provides students with individualized guidance and exemplifies its emphasis on student support services.
Hostos offers 29 associate degree programs and five certificate programs that facilitate easy transfer to CUNY’s four-year colleges or baccalaureate studies at other institutions. The College has an award-winning Division of Continuing Education & Workforce Development that offers professional development courses and certificate-bearing workforce training programs. Hostos is part of The City University of New York (CUNY), the nation’s leading urban public university, which serves more than 480,000 students at 24 colleges.