Women’s History Month is a time to recognize and celebrate the vital role of women’s contributions to American progress in society and culture in America and around the world. This recognition began in one town in 1978 when the Education Task Force of the Sonoma County Commission on the Status of Women celebrated “Women’s History Week” in Santa Rosa, California. The movement spread to other communities, so in 1980 President Jimmy Carter proclaimed the week of March 8, 1980 to be National Women’s History Week. The recognition was renewed by later presidents until 1987, when Congress designated March as “Women’s History Month.”

To celebrate, here at Piedmont Community College (PCC), we interviewed some of our female students, employees, and administrators to ask about their work at PCC, notable moments in women’s history, and their perspectives on living life as a woman.

Click a tab to read the various interviews below.

Dr. Pamela G. Senegal

President, Piedmont Community College

Kayla Rice

PECIL/PCC Student, Phi Theta Kappa Communications Officer

Why did you choose to attend PECIL?

I’m currently a Senior at PECIL (Person Early College for Innovation and Leadership) with one more year before I graduate with my high school diploma and associate’s degree. I chose PECIL because I thought it would give me an opportunity to grow, succeed, and learn how to have a better life-balance with school, work, at home, etc. PECIL and PCC are giving me all that and more. I have worked for and been awarded more opportunities than ever; I am servicing my community, helping others, leading teams and working in diverse teams, and learning who I am and who I want to be.

What’s your plan/goal after you graduate?

Once I graduate from PECIL and PCC, I plan to continue my studies at PCC to earn my degree in Associate Degree Nursing. Then I hope to get into a local 4-year nursing school, get my RN (Registered Nurse) and my BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing), then sign onto a hospital to work for a few years, while still leaving the door open for me to go back to school to earn my Masters in Nursing/Nurse Practitioner in my specialty of choice. Then possibly being a travel nurse to help people anywhere I can.

What does Women’s History Month mean to you?

It means showing women that they are not alone. Everyone has their own struggles and victories, but no one fights alone. We all fail and succeed in our own individual ways, but we’re going through school, work, and life together. Women’s History Month teaches women to support each other through the good, the bad, and the ugly; and to recognize and praise incredible women for the amazing things they do every day.

Can you tell us about a role model or woman leader that inspires you?

My mother has always inspired me, whether it’s through her being a leader and hard worker, a mom balancing all the tough parts of life, or her just being the amazing woman she is. She showed me how to be extraordinary at everything I do including being a friend, boss, wife, care-giver, leader, future mother, and a woman. She taught me that even when you struggle it’s okay to fail; just find faith and surround yourself with your uplifting loved ones who will embrace you, support you, and give you the strength to persevere.

What does it mean to be a woman and be successful?

To no longer being that little girl who looks up to my mom and grandmother and saying I want to be like them. But knowing that I am like them, and one day I will (hopefully) have a little girl that will look up to me. I want to be the best version of myself to set an example for any little girl I come in contact with, so that one day they can be the best  versions of themselves.

What does it mean to be an educated woman?

It means that I get to lay a new path to learn, teach, and help others. I am given an opportunity that not many have been given before. Although at some point in my life, everything will fade or change, my education will not. I will always be able to admire my degree and reflect back on the hard work I put into earning it and be thankful for those that came before me to make it possible.

Why is it important that women are represented in your future field of study or current major?

It is important that women are represented in nursing, and healthcare in general, because, historically, women have been looked at as the caregivers and caretakers. Being in this field of work, we are given an opportunity to be strong, to lead, and to impact lives. This gives women opportunities to grow and become managers, supervisors, the head of departments, and CEOs. Although women have been thought of as caregivers and caretakers, we are so much more than that. We are strong. We are independent. And we also want to help others and see them thrive and succeed.

Ms. Emily Buchanan

Director, Caswell County Campus Operations/Title IX Deputy Coordinator

How did you come to PCC?

So far, I’ve had a long journey in a short time. I was raised in Caswell County, graduated from Bartlett Yancey High School (BY) in 2005, then was accepted to Elon University as a Teaching Fellow, which means the state helped pay for part of my education to become a teacher. I got my degree in High School Teacher Education, then taught English at BY for three years. I knew that I wanted to affect change at a higher level to support teachers, so I started my master’s degree at High Point University. While I earned my master’s, I was recruited to work at Eastern Guilford High School, then I was recruited to be a curriculum facilitator to support teachers at the Academy at Lincoln in Guilford County. Just before I finished my master’s degree and earned my principal’s license, I was recruited to be the Assistant Principal at Dillard Middle School back here in Caswell County. I stayed in that position for two years before I was promoted to be the principal, which I absolutely loved! Then, after only a year, I was promoted to the central office as a Secondary Curriculum and Career and Technical Education Director for Caswell County Schools.

I knew I always wanted to get into higher education, and I felt I had a successful career in Caswell, so when the position for Campus Director opened up at PCC, I decided why not give it a shot? Then I got the job! So now, less than 20 years from graduating high school, I achieved my dream of working at almost every level of education. I never intended to climb the ladder as fast as I did, it just kind of happened; plus, I’m an opportunist. If an opportunity arises and my gut tells me to go for it, I’m going to go for it. But I have not been in one job for five years yet in my career, so that’s my goal here, to stay where I am and do all that I can do to support our students, employees, and the campus as a whole.

Is there a recent PCC moment or project that you’re working on that makes you proud?

If I had to pick one, it would be the BLAST program. BLAST stands for Breakthrough Learning in Agriculture, Science, and Technology. I helped facilitate PCC’s Agribusiness Department doing hands-on activities with local elementary schoolers to get them excited about ag and have them thinking and dreaming about all the good they can do with careers in agriculture in their home county. Hearing from our instructors, Kin and Luke, about how much the students are enjoying themselves, and hearing from the principal that the students can’t wait to do more, makes my heart smile.

If I could mention one more thing; I still have a passion to support teachers. I was able to help start and build PCC’s two-year Teacher Prep program, and I’m teaching those courses as an adjunct instructor. I’m so excited that, through this program, we can start to build a pipeline to feed Person and Caswell County schools with our own homegrown teachers.

What does Women’s History Month mean to you?

Women’s History Month is very significant to me. I grew up in a culture where women in my family were expected to be homemakers and stay at home moms, regardless of if they wanted to or not. I believe in the power of choice, and if that’s what a woman wants to do, she should be free to do that, but if she wants to pursue a career, she should have that option as well. 

My mom raised me to be a very independent woman because she didn’t get to be. She’s very intelligent, but she never pursued her education beyond high school because it wasn’t the expectation. Women’s History Month is significant because I know what the women before me sacrificed for so I could be in the position I am today. I was always pushed by my mom to be able to take care of myself and my family while not being dependent on anyone, which is also how I’m raising my daughter. When we ignore sub-group demographics and marginalized populations, it hurts society because you’re cutting out brilliance and potential.

Why is it important that women are represented in your field of study?

I think about the medical field and all the research and readings that were based on men and men only. Women are biologically and physically so different from men that those treatments don’t always work the same, even though, until recently, it has been treated as if those treatments will. I think that idea is true for every field. I think that there is not a one-size-fits-all no matter the demographic or gender. If any marginalized group, including women, wants to maintain their freedoms to choose the lives they want to choose for themselves, they have to be represented as much as possible in every facet of society, or someone will choose for them, which could result in those freedoms being lost.

That’s why, even though it’s cliché, a significant moment in women’s history to me is women’s suffrage and women’s right to vote. It’s important to have a seat at the table; if there isn’t representation at the table then you’ll most likely, historically, be left out.

Can you tell us about a role model or woman leader who inspired you?

I have two:

The first is my mom, who, like I mentioned, was not pushed or allowed to pursue more than what was expected of her, which was to be a mother and take care of the home. She wanted to be a French teacher, but never had that opportunity. My dad was the sole provider of our home but passed away from a sudden illness when I was a toddler. My mother was left, without an education, to struggle to raise me and my brother as a single parent. But she raised us, and she did it with flying colors. She worked really hard to provide a good life and home for us and we still felt loved every day. Watching the hardships that she overcame for us pushed me to be better for me and my children. She is the voice in my head telling me to keep going when I think I can’t because I know if she could sacrifice and work as hard as she did to keep us and keep us alive, happy, and well, I know I can overcome whatever task is put in front of me.

The second is Kamala Harris, whom I very much admire as the first female Vice President of the United States. My mom and I cried together on the couch as we watched Harris’ inauguration because she is forging a trail and showing women everywhere that opportunities are limitless if you keep moving forward. I don’t think we’re too far away from our first female president, and I hope and pray that I get to see it in my lifetime. Despite what some may say, I think Vice President Harris is brave to be a mom and be in this political arena in a position of power where there is so much at stake.

What does it mean to be a woman and be successful?

Deciding for yourself what you want to accomplish, creating a plan to achieve it, then going for it. Whether that’s being a stay at home mom, a working at home mom, a mom who works away from home, or a woman without children pursuing her dreams. To be successful, a woman should choose what she wants, then pursue it, it’s as simple as that.

What does it mean to be an educated woman?

I think back to my mom. She doesn’t have a formal education past high school, but she’s one of the smartest people I know. While education, in a traditional sense, means earning certifications and degrees; in another sense it boils down to life experiences, hardships, learning from mistakes, and having a story to tell.

Those experiences open the world and provide opportunities that are waiting to be taken. I was a very sheltered child growing up in Caswell County, and when I pursued my bachelor’s at Elon, I didn’t know anyone else going there. While I was there, I studied abroad and obviously learned a lot, but I also made a lot of mistakes and learned a lot of lessons which prepared me for the road I’m on now.

Are there any barriers that you’ve had to overcome to reach this point in your career?

Yes, lots of them. I grew up in an impoverished family after my father passed away. My mom worked so hard that I never realized it, but looking back, I can see that we were under the poverty threshold. Leaving that little shelter forced me to find a voice, forced me to find a place that made me feel like I belong, and forced me to be comfortable with myself no matter what situation I was in. It took being somewhere else and being around people from other cultures and backgrounds to get to that frame of mind. It’s also difficult to be a woman in leadership, particularly a young woman in leadership, especially if you’re like me and you look younger than you are.

What advice would you give students, young people, or the public who’s seeking further education to reach their potential?

Keep going no matter what. But more than that, sit down and visualize the person you want to be and what you want your life to be. No matter the barriers, you can make it happen. There is always some way to overcome obstacles and adversity and achieve your goals.

LaTasha Bradford

PCC Nursing Student; SGA Vice President

Why did you choose PCC?

I honestly didn’t know anything about PCC when I was searching for potential colleges for Nursing until one of my best friends got into the program here. She spoke so highly of the program that I had to look into it and compare it with others, and now that I’m here, almost a full year into the program, I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else.

My friend and I were living in Greensboro attending another community college at the time, and not to compare them, but I am so thankful for the support we receive from our instructors, staff, and other students here at PCC. And as I’m also the Student Government Association (SGA) Vice President, I’m thankful for the extra opportunities available that allow me to learn more about my abilities and let me engage with other students to benefit student life. I know I made the right choice.

What’s your plan/goal after you graduate?

I know I’m going to use my degree in Nursing, but the magic question everyone asks me is, “What will your specialty be?” I honestly don’t know, but I am open to learning the options and seeing where my passion lies. I’m guessing that I will choose ‘Case Management’ because then I could really help and advocate for the patient. Case Management is more than looking at the patient as a patient, but looking at their clinical picture, their social picture, and their financial picture to help them as much as possible.

I eventually hope to continue my education, earn my master’s degree and become a nurse practitioner. But then, my ultimate goal is to take it one step further and open my own geriatric clinic.

What does Women’s History Month mean to you?

Women’s History Month is an opportunity for people to slow down and look at the contributions of women to society. Women had to fight a lot and fight hard to earn their rights, and that fight continues today. During some of the biggest social movements in America, a lot of the times, women were in the background doing a lot of heavy lifting, but that is often overshadowed by the larger outcome. This month gives us the opportunity to slow down, reflect, and remember those contributions. I think Women’s History Month is extremely important, especially now when women don’t have to sit in the background as often and can assist much more on the frontlines.

This goes further as a woman of color because we are fighting multiple prejudices and we’re forced to figure out how overcome them. Women of color struggle to feel comfortable within in spaces that don’t celebrate diversity and inclusiveness. As an example, we have had to recently advocate legislatively to wear our hair the way it grows naturally out of our scalp. Could you imagine having to combat that and ask, “Can I wear my natural hair to work? Can I exist as I am?”

While I could say I would prefer for Women’s history and Black history to be expanded for more than a month, these celebrations give us a set time to make sure we embrace and focus on the historical figures and learn lessons from them. These months open the door and pique the interest of people, which then puts the responsibility on them to learn further. We’re in the information age and there’s nothing that we can’t study on our own. Our learning doesn’t have to stop because the month is over.

Is there a moment in Women’s History Month that you would like to share?

Not to be cliché, but I was all about the ‘Chucks and Pearls’ movement! Vice President Kamala Harris is part of the Greek sorority Alpha Kappa Alpha. One of their symbols, as a sisterhood, is the pearl necklace which symbolizes the founders of the sorority, the ‘Twenty Pearls.’ When Kamala was running for office, many women who supported her would wear ‘Chucks & Pearls’ t-shirts, pearl jewelry, and Chuck Taylor Converse shoes. For me, this movement wasn’t about politics, but women supporting women; especially one who has worked hard to elevate to the level of Madame Vice President.

Can you tell us about a role model or woman leader that inspires you?

I love Michelle Obama!! America is this diverse melting pot with people from different countries and different walks of life. In my opinion, she made the White House a place that was inclusive, which is what America is supposed to represent. Then to add to that, she did it with style! I love my clothes, I like to think I’m stylish, and she showed that it was okay to be in a leadership role and add a little flavor to your fashion.

What does it mean to be a woman and be successful?

To me, this is a two part question, so I’ll give a two part answer:

Being a woman is my superpower. It’s not easy to be a woman. Our biological changes never stop, and nature gives us a new battle to overcome constantly. In work, there is a power struggle. As women become more successful and are awarded positions of power, then we have to make sure we navigate that dynamic correctly. Then there’s the dynamic at home, whether you’re married and splitting responsibilities or if you’re a single parent and the leader of the household. That’s just three areas that we navigate daily, and there are so many more we face throughout life.

Being a successful woman says that I have options, and I no longer have to be limited to the roles that society wants to give me. I have the power to make my own path and choose the direction I want to pursue.

What does it mean to be an educated woman?

It’s kind of the same answer as above; to have choices. An older woman once told me that her father told her, “They can take anything from you, but they can’t take away your education.” As I get older and more experienced, I’m understanding what that means. Some people will try to take advantage of you. Some people judge me after taking one look, whether it’s my clothes, hair, or how I speak, but they can’t see inside my mind, how I think, or the memories I have. Not being able to be taken advantage of in a multitude of dimensions is powerful.

Here’s a quick story: Years ago, my sister and I went to Mexico. I’m the kind of tourist that wants the ‘authentic experience,’ to truly try to feel what it’s like to live in a city; so, we visited a back-street flea market. I asked the clerk how much one of his goods was, who then talked to a coworker in Spanish haggling over what price they should tell me. He told me $6.00. I said to him, “Why six? He said he would give it to me for three.” By looking at me, he had no idea what I knew, but I was able to take my knowledge and use it to my advantage.

Why is it important that women are represented in your future field of study or current major?

Representation matters. If you see someone that resembles you, you can visualize yourself in that office, in that job, being that boss, or reaching those goals. Just as much for women, this is true for men. I’m going into nursing, and at one point it was unheard of for men to be nurses. Men were expected to be doctors or other advanced practitioners if they wanted a career in healthcare. Now, it’s not uncommon to see a male nurse. Seeing someone that looks like you, in whatever field you want to pursue, cements that thought in the back of your mind that you can achieve that. We need to be able to see ourselves in whatever direction we’re going into.

No matter what industry someone may work in, it’s important to have a mix of genders because each one thinks so differently. In my experience, women are typically linear thinkers who connect current experiences to past ones, whereas men may choose to address each situation presently. These are both helpful, especially in the healthcare field, where in some situations it is important to refer back to previous patients, but other times it’s important to focus on the task at hand in an isolated fashion.

Anna “Reese” Lee

PCC Student, Student Ambassador

Why did you choose PCC?

I chose PCC because it allowed me to continue my education without having to go off to a university. When I first got out of high school, I didn’t know what I wanted to do or what major I wanted to go into. Going to PCC really helped me get the college experience that I need and at a much more affordable cost. I can still work and be involved in my church and my job while taking classes.

What are your plans/goals after you graduate?

After graduation, I plan to transfer to Liberty University to continue my education. I plan on going into the Ministry. I was very blessed to go on a mission trip to St. Lucia in 2019 to conduct a Vacation Bible School. Ever since then, I felt like the Lord has placed it in my heart that this is my calling.

What does Women’s History Month mean to you?

To me, it is a celebration to recognize the women who go unappreciated throughout the years. It is a time to reflect and appreciate those who do so much. Women do so much for others. I think that it is awesome that we can celebrate one another and the accomplishments that we have made.

Can you tell us about a role model or woman leader that inspires you?

Someone that inspires me is my mom. She is one of the most hard-working and God-fearing people that I know. She always puts others before herself. One thing that always has stuck out to me was when I was in high school, after she would work all day, but she would always come to watch me play soccer, softball, and volleyball. She made sure was at every single game. I am forever grateful for all that she does for me.

What does it mean to be a woman and successful?

It means believing in myself and trusting my instinct.  There are different levels of success depending on who you ask. Women have different success levels in their life, such as going to school, getting a job, getting married, and starting a family. I want to continue to grow and strive to be the absolute best version of myself.

What does it mean to be an educated woman?

It means that you have many years of experience and people may look to you for answers. I have two sisters and I want to be the best example that I can be for them in everything that I do. I want to strive to be the best version of myself that I can be.

Why is it important that women are represented in your future field of study or current major?

I would love to be able to work in the ministry when I get older. I know that women being in the ministry can sometimes be looked down upon, but I think that if God calls you to do something, it shouldn’t matter your sex, race, age, etc.  It’s all for His glory.

Ms. Princess Watkins

PCC Communications Instructor

princess-watkins-web.jpg

How did you come to PCC?

After I graduated college, I lived and taught in China. When I moved back to America in 2012, I pulled out a map of North Carolina with the community colleges listed on it and began applying to become a college instructor. I applied to PCC in September of that year, interviewed, then in November I joined the faculty. And what keeps me coming back to PCC year after year, in the past and for the foreseeable future, are the people that I work with. This is a second family to me, and we all go through the ups and the downs like any family. Overall, I can genuinely say that PCC is my home.

Is there a recent PCC moment or project that you’re currently working on that makes you proud?

For years, I fought the fight for our students to learn more in Communications besides Public Speaking. Public Speaking is a wonderful course, it’s an important skill to have, and I love public speaking, but there are other areas in the field that our students can learn from. We are now in the first year of offering COM 120 “Introduction to Interpersonal Communications,” and starting in the Fall of 2022, we are adding COM 140 “Intercultural Communications.” These courses will broaden our students’ skill sets by teaching them basic interpersonal communication. It will teach them how to communicate with another person. We’re also in a modern world that’s connected globally, so our students may also need to learn how to communicate across other cultures. The fact that these courses can now be taken and utilized, I could not be prouder.

What does Women’s History Month mean to you?

It means that we as a country and I, myself, as a woman stop and look at the progress of women’s rights. To reflect on where we were in the country, where we are now, and where we’re moving to. There are still a lot of inequalities, but we are continuing to push forward and striving within our country and society to show what it means to be a modern woman, a new woman, and a powerful woman.

When I mention inequalities, it starts in our history where women were looked upon as property, but there are still societies in our present day where women are still regarded in that way. It turns my stomach that because of my gender I am property, whereas men are looked at as people. Through that fight in America, women are no longer looked at as property and we have the right to vote, but there’s still the most modern battle of wage inequality. We still have a lot of work to do, but we are making positive progress.

Is there a moment in Women’s History that you’d like to share?

As an Olympic Track & Field fan, I would love to highlight Allyson Felix as the most decorated U.S. track & field athlete; as a basketball fanatic, I would like to highlight Sue Bird, who’s about to start her 19th season in the WNBA; and as someone who has a passion for political history, I have to mention Vice President Kamala Harris, the first woman, and woman of color, elected as Vice President, and Ms. Ketanji Brown Jackson, who, if elected, will become the first Black woman to serve on the Supreme court.

Can you tell us about a role model or woman leader who inspired you?

I have a few because there’s just too many to choose from. Harriet Tubman, who followed her heart, her passion, and her calling to lead others out of slavery and to safety. Sojourner Truth, as a rhetorician, giving her “Ain’t I A Woman” speech about being a woman of color. Susan B. Anthony, as an activist and pioneer in the women’s suffrage movement. All of these women stood up in very difficult times and were determined to lead an opposing movement to make life better and more equal for women, people of color, and women of color.

I also want to take a moment to acknowledge Rosa Parks, who on the bus one day made a simple, but ground-breaking decision: to not stand up. After a long day, she was tired, it’s as simple as that. But more than physically tired, she was tired of giving in. It added fuel to a fire that changed many of the rights and freedoms that I have today.

What does it mean to be a woman and successful?

Not being dependent on anyone, but specifically a man. As I mentioned before, in our history, women were looked at as property. Today, I run my household because I am a single female. I’m okay with that, and I’m proud of the fact that I can do that successfully. Not being dependent on anyone is what success as a woman means to me.

What does it mean to be an educated woman?

I have every opportunity at my fingertips. Education means the access to opportunities. I am a relatively well-educated woman. I have access to opportunities that many don’t and won’t ever have. That’s a humbling thought when you realize that. Because of my determination within education, I took advantage of many opportunities including traveling the world using my degrees to help pay for my livelihood.

What would you say is a significant barrier to female leadership? Are there any barrier that you’ve had to overcome to reach this point in your career?

Family responsibilities. Women have children, and not only do they take care of them, but their spouses, and elderly family members as well. That is a huge responsibility that takes time and energy. I’m not trying to say that men don’t play a large part because they do, but historically, since women were homemakers for a long time, when they began to work, whether by choice or obligation, they were still expected to completely take care of the home and family after work. The balance has leveled out some in modern society, but that underlying thought still exists. But, ultimately, it’s hard to juggle the obligations of family and career.

I have faced professional barriers, but not related to my gender. I’ve faced a lot of discrimination and racism early on, which could have pushed me out of a career in education, but that’s not who I am, I’m a fighter. I won’t start the fight, but I won’t run from it either. I said, “I’m here, I’m going to be educated, and I’m going to work for what I want.” That determined attitude has put me where I am today, where I don’t see problems, I see solutions, and I will strive to find those solutions however I can.

What would you say makes a great leader?

Dedication, determination, and being able to stay strong in the face of adversity, especially as a woman. Dedicated to what you believe in, to be determined to go out and attain that, and staying steady and firm to where no adversity will sway you from that ultimate goal.

Why is it important that women are represented in your field of study?

I find that women have a different approach to theories that have been around for years; they can look at them with a fresh and different perspective. That’s why I feel that women have such a place and a right in all specialties. We have women on our campus, Katie Hester and Susana Calderon, who teach in Science fields that are very underrepresented, and from what I hear from students, they’re amazing at what they do.

What advice would you give students, young people, or the public who’s seeking further education to reach their potential?

Start small and see how it goes. You never know until you try. What’s the worst thing that you will learn when you try, that it didn’t work? I’ve learned that a lot of times! Well, let’s take that lesson but find something that can work and find something you are successful at based on your strengths. And we’ll do it at your pace, one class at a time.

When I was growing up, I would go to school like every other kid, but when I got home, my mother, who was also an educator, would continue to teach me. Not only did she do this because I am a minority, being a woman and a person of color, but I’m also a first-generation integrated school system student, meaning my parents were taught in segregated schools, in the “colored system.” Throughout my life, I have seen change but there is still some resistance and difficulties in our school system. But we’ll keep working to give every student, no matter who they are, the best chance to learn and find success.

Liliana Mejia

PECIL/PCC Student, Phi Theta Kappa Vice President

Why did you choose to attend PECIL?

I am a senior at Person Early College for Innovation & Leadership (PECIL). I chose this program at PCC because it gave me an edge when it came to my education. I have one more year until I will graduate with both my high school diploma and my Associate in Science.

Another reason I chose PECIL was because I believed it would shape me into an amazing student. I knew PECIL would give me the opportunity to grow as well as learn to balance my school and work life. Once I started my ninth-grade year, I also learned that PCC had so much to offer as well. I am currently the vice president of PCC’s chapter of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, which has opened so many opportunities for me to serve my community and be more involved with the College and its students.

What’s your plan/goal after you graduate?

After I graduate, I plan to attend a four-year university to pursue a degree in the medical field. After medical school, my dream is to become a pediatrician. I have dreamed of being a doctor and helping people in need for as long as I can remember. Going into the medical field after I graduate is definitely a must and is what I am aiming for every day.

What does Women’s History Month mean to you?

Women’s History Month is a month to celebrate all the hard work women across the country and around the world have done and continue to do. It also recognizes specific achievements women have accomplished. To me, this month means that America is giving women the acknowledgment they deserve. Women’s History Month also shows how all women struggle at times, but they are not going through it alone; it teaches women to come together and support each other rather than standing alone.

Can you tell us about a role model or woman leader that inspires you?

My mother is the biggest woman role model in my life, and I will continue to look up to her and her accomplishments. My mother has been through extremely difficult times, but she has come out of each one stronger than ever. Those times made her a better, harder-working, and independent woman. She was told she wouldn’t go far in life, but she has always found and made a way. I hope to be able to grow up and be as strong and independent as my mother is.

What does it mean to be a woman and be successful?

Being a successful woman means being a person that has worked extremely hard to get to where they are. Being a woman is not always easy because they are still stereotypes and barriers saying that women should be at home and should focus on the family rather than an education or career. Being a successful woman with degrees shows that they have worked really hard to reach that point; those women should be applauded for their accomplishments. It takes a lot of strength, courage, and perseverance to be a successful woman.

What does it mean to be an educated woman?

Being an educated woman takes dedication and hard work. When I graduate and get my diploma and degree, it will show all of my hard work, 14 years of it, paying off. The dedication that I put in will not be pointless but be put to good use. There are communities and countries around the world where women don’t have the opportunities that I have, so I want to make sure I take advantage of what’s given to me instead of taking them for granted or letting them go to waste. I am forever grateful for the things women have sacrificed, so young women, like myself, can pursue their dreams in education.

Why is it important that women are represented in your future field of study or current major?

It is important that women are represented as doctors because it shows how they are strong, smart, and able to take initiative to help others and potentially save lives. Being a woman in the medical field, especially being a doctor, can inspire young women to do anything they set their mind to. Women are as strong as they come and having the accomplishment of becoming a doctor reinforces this and makes them even more of a role model for the generations to come. 

Dr. Barbara Buchanan

Vice President, Instruction / Chief Academic Office

How did you come to PCC?

I grew up, worked, and lived most of my life in Texas. But just before I came to North Carolina, I worked at Truckee Meadows Community College, in Reno, NV, for two years.

I relocated to North Carolina to help with family after my daughter gave birth to twins and they were in the NICU for several months. Once my daughter and the twins were healthy, I started looking for a job because I wasn’t ready to retire yet. In August 2018, I found an opening as the Vice President, Instruction / Chief Academic Officer here at PCC which fit my background and passion while also allowing me to stay close to my daughter, who lives in the triangle, so I can continue to help her with her children.

It turned out that I just fell in love with the people here and it couldn’t have been a better fit. It’s been perfect.

Is there a recent PCC moment or project that you’re currently working on that makes you proud?

There is not one moment or project, but I realize constantly what great hands our country is in with this generation of young people. For instance, our PTK students step up and continue to bring pride to PCC by making a difference to fight hunger in our community. They aren’t being graded for their work, they aren’t earning any sort of credit, they simply exemplify service learning and caring about their fellow human beings.

What does Women’s History Month mean to you?

I am not big on separating women from men, but I am passionate about recognizing and ensuring that women are given credit for their great accomplishments throughout history. In my own family, we have had many strong matriarchs who have held our family together, taken our children to church and school, ensured that strong traditions were maintained and upheld. Women are the constant and the love that flows through our families, and sometimes recognitions like “Women’s History Month” help us remember these outpourings of strength, love, and selflessness.

I completely support the women who break through barriers and who provide massive improvements to our lives as a collective whole; we would not be where we are without them. But on a daily basis, on an individual basis, I think those foundational relationships deserve more recognition.

Is there a moment in Women’s History that you’d like to share?

I always love to think about shocking moments when women stood up to people who told them no or tried to make them believe what they could not do instead of what they could do—like those who marched to get the right to vote. I do not like being told I cannot do something because I am a woman, and I taught my daughters they could do anything they set their minds on. In short, “the world is limitless.”

Can you tell us about a role model or woman leader who inspired you?

Dr. Senegal is an inspirational leader for us here. She looks ahead and shares her vision with our college community and is constantly working on behalf of PCC. Dr. Maria Sheehan, President of Truckee Meadows Community College, certainly inspired me as an academic leader as well. She brought me into a large college and placed a great amount of trust in me to change the climate and we were successful. In my personal life, my mother inspired me as a strong woman who always showed that everything is possible and reminded me to keep a strong work ethic to make things happen. 

What does it mean to be a woman and successful?/Is there a difference between female and male driven success?

Everyone must measure success for themselves. If you go home at night and feel like you have made a positive difference and/or hopefully made something better than it was, then that is success for me. I also believe at different stages of your life; you realize the importance of relationships and family and friends, and you judge your own success on the quality of those relationships. Often when you are younger, you only concentrate on earning power or position instead. So, your definition of success changes as you realize what is important to you personally.

What does it mean to be an educated woman?

Being educated means you have choices. You can choose your career; you can choose to live where you want to live. You can choose to support yourself; you can choose to live with a partner or alone. You have independence. It also means you have the power to help others. You have earning power to make a difference in the lives of others. This is the greatest way to find real happiness in life. It is not in what you buy yourself; it is in what you can do to help others.    

What would you say is a significant barrier to female leadership?

I recognize that women who are direct and outspoken are often called “bossy,” “abrasive,” or by other choice words while a man who is direct is often just thought to be clear on what he wants done. It is all in the perception, but I think that is changing somewhat.

Are there any barrier that you’ve had to overcome to reach this point in your career?

Certainly, but I try not to look back and instead I focus all my attention on moving forward.  I think every barrier made me stronger as a person and more empathetic and understanding of others.

What would you say makes a great leader?

Ensuring people want to follow you. That may sound simple, but it is not. You must develop trust and you should be willing to do the things you ask others to do. You must be sure you can share the vision of where we are going and help others see how they fit into the plan and ensure they know how important they are to getting the organization there. You must take chances and allow others to do the same; you must be willing to evaluate and change directions when it is necessary while communicating clearly all the while. In all things, a good leader keeps building their team through bonding and community service and making sure the end results make the world better at the end of the day.

Why is it important that women are represented in your field of study?

Because women are so smart! Seriously, you want everyone represented. We do strengths finder and women and men both show multiple skills and characteristics. I think perspectives may be more differing though. Women often bring a unique perspective into conversations, and they are often more in tune with the holistic needs of students and colleagues. We also want young women to see us as role models and understand that the world is open to them for great opportunities too and we can help them understand that women can wear multiple hats and still be successful in their career choices.

What advice would you give students, young people, or the public who’s seeking further education to reach their potential?

One of the smartest instructors I was fortunate to have once told me that being educated just means that you begin to know how much you still don’t know. I have never forgotten that. It is true. I often listen to people who are bull headed and opinionated and unwilling to have civil discourse and for me, my first thought is how uneducated they must be. If they were educated, they would “know what they don’t know” and they would want to listen, learn, discuss, and broaden their horizons and their understandings.

In fact, being educated gives a person choices and advantages and it is life changing for you and for others in many ways beyond just the financial opportunities it normally opens.

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