College Graduates: Finding their Place

By the end of this week, we’ll be driving home from Ohio, with our daughter, a new college graduate. With her diploma in one hand and a bartending license in the other, she’s hoping to find her place in the workforce.

I thought about my daughter this week while attending two cultural events.

Seeing Ann, the biographical play about the late Ann Richards, considered how this woman, Texas’ 45th governor and only the second woman to hold the office in the state, set an example for others to enter politics and seek higher office throughout the country.  220px-Ann_Richards

In US history, there have only been 35 women governors; five women hold the office at present.

I remember a slogan from the 1970’s when I worked as a news intern  in Washington, DC. “A woman’s place is in the House… and the Senate.” To date, 44 women have served in the US Senate; 20 of the 100 senators serving today are women.  In the House of Representatives of the 435 members, 78 are women. More than 200 women have been elected in US history.

It doesn’t take advanced math to recognize there’s still an enormous gender gap in US politics.  There’s room for current graduates to enter the race.

I also visited Judy Chicago’s  The Dinner Party now housed at the Brooklyn Museum. I  saw the exhibit when it first appeared in 1979.   Its 39 ceramic plates displayed atop elaborate embroidered tapestries honor mythological and historical women, beginning with the Greek Primordial Goddess and ending with American artist Georgia O’Keefe.  Additionally, 999 women’s names are inscribed on the white, triangular-tiled floor, ranging from 14th century medical educator Abella of Salerno to American writer Zora Neale Hurston. At the time, it was hailed as a breakthrough in feminist art and inspired the advent of women’s studies at many colleges and universities. images-1

I joined a corporate event organized to bring men and women to the exhibit. Most had never heard of or seen the show before.  The group works to increase the visibility of women in the company; it encourages women to take “a place at the table,” echoing Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg in her book, Lean In. (I haven’t read it but heard her speak about it at Davos. She spoke at my daughter in-law Karen’s Barnard College graduation, where she emphasized  the themes in her book.)41TknOCIZWL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_SX225_SY300_CR,0,0,225,300_SH20_OU01_

As my daughter packs up her things, sorts what she’s keeping, donating, selling or tossing, I know she, and countless other college graduates nationwide, will be wondering what’s next. I hope they have choices, can follow their passions, and will find their places. There’s lots of room at the table, in the House, the Senate, the Governor’s Mansion, and beyond.

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About cyclingrandma

I was a journalist (Danbury News-Times, Ct), before becoming a teacher, and continue to write for professional journals. I have written several study guides for Penguin Books and write for Education Update, a newspaper based in New York City. (www.educationupdate.com). I’ve interviewed many authors, college presidents, and scientists. I wrote “The Kentucky Derby’s Forgotten Jockeys” for Smithsonian Magazine's website, www.smithsonian.com. (April, 2009). Two essays have been published in book anthologies; one for Wisdom of Our Mothers, (Familia Books) and the other in “College Search and Parent Rescue: Essay for Parents by Parents of College-Going Students.” (St. Martin’s Press). I was a middle school Language Arts teacher for more than 10 years and have just completed a five year grant position under No Child Left Behind in Newark, NJ public schools. I have three children, two daughters-in law, and six grandchildren. I'm an avid cyclist, knitter, cook, and reader. I love theater, museums, and yoga.
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20 Responses to College Graduates: Finding their Place

  1. Congratulations. I too hope there are options out there. They seem to be shrinking for many but I will remain optimistic.

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  2. I’m sure you have instilled your values in your daughter’s mind. I wish her great luck in finding her place in this world…Congratulations to all.,

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  3. There’s room around the table – I like that line! I hope your daughter finds her place as well. All the best to her.

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  4. OmaOrBubby says:

    Lots of luck to your daughter as she heads off to college! And to you on this transition to empty nesthood 🙂 …

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  5. OmaOrBubby says:

    Woops…I meant graduating from college. Too early in the morning for me. Congrats to your daughter and good luck in finding success.

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  6. Congrats Lisa! I wish her lots of luck in the big search. It took Jess a year in an office in DC to decide what she wanted to do as her life’s work, then another 2 to fulfill the pre-requisites. Is she interested in politics? Policy?

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  7. karen r-w says:

    I LOVE Sheryl Sandberg!!!!! She is an amazing speaker and I can’t wait to have some time this summer to read her book (would love to borrow it if you read it first). Lydia is going to be awesome in whatever she decides to do – she’s a pretty empowered woman herself!

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  8. Such an exciting time for you and your daughter! Mazel Tov! I’m always so impressed by the cool things you make time for, the great things you do Lisa! Being so close to one of the greatest cities ever is so exciting! Thanks for sharing it with us… and safe travels home with your girl. xo

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  9. zannyro says:

    Congratulations! What a wonderful moment for all of you…so many exciting things ahead!

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  10. Judy says:

    Congratulations and best of luck to your daughter!

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  11. tchistorygal says:

    My friend and I were just discussing the topic of women working, and our own careers as wel walked today. She never felt that she was hindered from anything she wanted to do. I know that had she wanted something professional it might have been difficult for her as a young person, but since she wanted to be a stay at home mom, she didn’t have to struggle. I don’t think that I convinced her that it might have been difficult for others because they were female, not because they were automatically bad workers. Good luck to your daughter as she steps out onto the exciting professional world . 🙂

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  12. hugmamma says:

    All the best to your daughter. I’m sure she’s got your love of life…and will live it to the fullest. 🙂

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  13. Malou says:

    Congratulations on your daughter’s graduation! I wish her all the best especially in this very challenging world that we live in. Women are still in many ways confronted with discrimination but I’m sure that your daughter is ready to face the challenges. 😉

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