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All posts tagged: gender gap

Here’s What Happens When You Don’t Give Up on YOU

JRF | Jul 03 2016 |  · · · 

As he lay naked basking in his adulterous act, he did say one last thing…

"I'm done with you." 

She told him, "You might be. But I'm not done with me yet."


“Kristine, what was it that made you decide to go back to school?”

“Well… seven years ago, I came home and found my husband of 23 years in bed with another woman, his high school sweetheart.”

Thanks to Facebook, they had reconnected and apparently rekindled old flames. Despite being caught in the act, his face was absent of any guilt. He wiped their bank accounts clean and purchased one-way plane tickets for Kristine and their two children to return to her parents’ home in New York. 

He doesn’t get a name in this story though because this isn’t his story.

This is the story of an artist and a survivor.

“I restarted my life with $900, two months of back rent, and two children.”

With the help of the HOPE Family Services, Kristine's divorce was finalized within three months. Kristine will complete her B.A. in Secondary Education in December 2016 and she will be the first person in her family to earn a Bachelors Degree.

Here's a snapshot on Kristine: 

  • Mother, Teacher, Daughter, Sister, Lover, Painter

  • Second-generation Norwegian

  • Currently works part-time at Publix and a local art gallery

  • Her living room doubles as her studio

  • Wants to purchase a car and travel the world with her son and daughter

As a teacher, Kristine wants to expose children to the intersection of art, English, and math. What if schools taught children about the Golden Ratio through the portrait of Mona Lisa?

She plans to turn her future classroom into an art gallery, walls filled with custom paintings. Many American children never have the opportunity to visit a museum, so Kristine wants to bring a museum to them. Pictured to the right is one of Kristine's interpretations of Tiger Lily.

In her free time, Kristine paints portraits of important women in her life based on their posted selfies on social media. According to Kristine, when we select selfies as our profile pictures, we choose ones that highlight some attribute of ourselves that we love, much below the physical surface. Painting their portraits gives her a chance to escape reality and add color to their inner and outer beauty.

Lessons Learned from Kristine: 

  • If you can’t afford something, volunteer your time and talents. In order to pay for her daughter’s high school marching band fees, Kristine altered the band uniforms for over 160 students.  ​

  • Be weary of the single narrative.  Her children once complained of having to read Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God because it seemed like the protagonist, Janie, was just a woman who ran from man to man. She corrected them, acclaiming that Janie is actually the heroine. Janie broke all of the stereotypes, did what she really wanted to do, and she spread her love along the way.

  • And when you’re really at your worst, go to the beach. Period. It’s that simple.


Don’t ever give any credit to someone else’s opinion of you.

Kristine's Norwegian father, Jan, pronounced John, came to the US at the age of 11. From day one, American teachers and students constantly teased him about his seemingly feminine name. One day, he’d had enough and requested an official change of spelling,“please change my name and make me American.”

Kristine, named after her father’s hometown, made it a point to return to her maiden name after her divorce. Looking back, the tumultuous marriage led her to reclaim her name, her identity, and her education. Her father Jan couldn’t be more proud.  


Kristine, you’re doing a heck of a job adding color to your own life’s portrait. You were right.You aren’t done with you yet, even when the “doing” of some days may seem difficult or uncertain.

Kristine’s decision to never be done has even influenced her 19-year old daughter, Emily, to also keep going. She recently earned her Associate Degree and is moving on to the University of Central Florida to pursue a Bachelors and Masters in Computer Criminology to eventually work for the FBI. Pictured on top are Kristine and her two children. Below are a few loved ones from her supportive village.

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The Jeannette Rankin Women’s Scholarship Foundation provide scholarships and support for low-income women 35 and older across the U.S. to build better lives through college completion. If you support the courage and persistence of women like Kristine, please re-share this story.

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Why the United State of Women Matters

JRF | Jun 22 2016 |  · · · 

Our Executive Director, Karen Sterk, recently joined forces with Michele Ozumba of the Women’s College Coalition and JRF Board Member, Linda Brigham of Coca-Cola and Letty Ashworth of Delta Air Lines on a girls’ trip to the United State of Women White House Summit. From the moment they arrived at 6:15 a.m., they stood amidst long lines of thousands of diverse women, waiting for the greatness to begin. Looking back on it, the “greatness” they were yearning for had already started while in line.

For the first time ever, the United State of Women White House Summit brought together 5,000 women focused on economic empowerment, health and wellness, education, violence, entrepreneurship and innovation, and leadership and civic engagement. As Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi stated, “when women succeed, America succeeds.” We’d like to add that when women of diverse backgrounds, colors, age, and pursuits are supported to succeed, then and only then will America be ready to reach its true pinnacle of success.

Director Sterk expresses:

"I was especially impressed with Vice-President Joe Biden’s open 

remarks on America’s rape culture. It isn’t everyday that a man of such power leads a public discussion on the mistreatment of women’s bodies or to pass the Violence Against Women Act back in the 1990s. Vice-President Biden expressed that violence against women is really an abuse of power. Rape is a repulsive obsession to assert and abuse power.

Unfortunately, many of our Jeannette Rankin Women’s Foundation (JRF) Scholars have been robbed of their body’s power at some point. Rape and abuse of any kind can leave victims in a trapped state of fear. Pursuing higher education is one way to reclaim one’s power and overcome the fear of failure."

How do we connect what we do with workforce development?

Women aren’t encouraged to be plumbers, truckers, or mechanics. Yet during one of the sessions hosted by the Department of Education, panelists shared technical education tips and lucrative opportunities from pipefitting to supply chain.

If you are a woman over the age of 35, returning to traditional higher education presents its own set of challenges. Two-year programs at technical institutions can ease these concerns, provide women equitable access to jobs more quickly, and lessen the financial burden of a quality education.

We need to make sure we are exposing women to these opportunities and shattering stereotypes of what success looks like. It comes in different colors, different degrees, different roles, and from different places.

Great summit. Now, what?

The Jeannette Rankin Women’s Scholarship Fund and other women’s organizations are now challenged to deepen our impact and expand our reach, far beyond solely providing scholarships or jobs. We need to collaborate and maintain that same overwhelming sense of urgency and sisterhood from the summit to reclaim our power in this country as women. We encourage you to stay tuned to United State of Women events in your area.

The #stateofwomen proved that this holistic effort to uplift all women is imperative to breaking cycles of poverty, oppression, sexism, and racism. And yes, men we are talking to you too.

The Jeannette Rankin Women’s Scholarship Fund has successfully provided scholarships to over 800 women in 40 years and in the words of First Lady Michelle Obama, “We are not done yet! We have to continue the work.”

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