New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

Women’s history month: an ode to the women in our lives

In honor of Women’s History Month, the Culture Desk staff writers are taking turns every week to highlight the important female figures in their lives.
Charlie Dodge
March is Women’s History Month, and each week, WSN’s Culture desk staff writers are taking turns to highlight influential women figures in their lives. (Illustration by Charlie Dodge)

Without a doubt, the most inspirational woman in my life is my mother. She has repeatedly taught me to never let circumstances define me. 

My mother had an unconventional college education. She attended one semester of community college before I was born, leaving due to language barriers. Her first language was Spanish, and she didn’t speak much English. She also didn’t know what career she wanted to pursue. 

It was only after my birth that my mother returned to school. At the young age of 20, she carried the responsibilities of a part-time college student, a full-time employee at a Boys and Girls Club near our home, and a first-time mother. Due to her overwhelming circumstances, it took her four years to finally earn her associate degree in Teaching.  

For those first five years of my life, my mother raised me as a single parent with help from my grandparents. She worked long days and attended her college classes in the afternoon. 

When she finally arrived home in the evenings, she always made time to ask about my day and play a few rounds of bingo, which I usually played during the daytime with my grandmother. Bingo was one of my favorite games, but whenever my mother would join in, I somehow loved it even more. The game became symbolic of her commitment to being the most dedicated and caring mother she could be.

Despite her towering responsibilities, my mother never gave up on her dreams to further pursue her education. 

Now a full-time mother of three, she finished up her last two years of college and obtained a bachelor’s degree in Child and Adolescent Development. As of 2020, she officially finished a master’s program in Early Childhood Education with a concentration in Trauma Studies.

When she first started her master’s program, my mother struggled. I remember seeing her cry after her first class because she didn’t have the time to raise my two younger sisters. Additionally, the language barrier stayed consistent in her education. 

Though she had learned to proficiently speak and understand the English language throughout the years, getting her master’s degree proved to be more difficult than she anticipated. The texts were longer and more complex, and the writing assignments were endless.   

Regardless, my mother persevered. With immense passion and persistence, she once again proved that she could flawlessly balance motherhood and academic responsibilities. My mother defied everyone who believed she would never amount to anything more than a few college credits and a few unstable jobs. In the process, she taught me to relentlessly pursue my own dreams, despite seemingly insurmountable barriers. 

Now, every time I feel like I’m crumbling under the pressures of student life, I always think back on my mother’s journey. I remember her struggles and refusal to be tied down to circumstance, and I become inspired to persevere through the most difficult of situations with admiration. 

As a current college student myself, I’m now able to fully appreciate the value of the sacrifices my mother had to make throughout her life. I’m more than happy to thank her and honor her sacrifices not only during Women’s History Month, but always. 

Email Natalie Melendez at [email protected].

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About the Contributor
Charlie Dodge, Creative Director
Charlie Dodge is a cartoonist/writer/junior at Gallatin studying 21st Century Storytelling. Originally a Californian, she has once again taken refuge in NYC this semester. She loves museums (especially the free ones) and has aspirations for a future curatorial career. Charlie frequently collaborates with Leo Sheingate, and posts way too many photos on Instagram @muckrakerdodge.

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