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Women’s History Month Celebrations

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On International Women’s Day, March 8, a group of women gathered at the East Hernando Branch Library in Brooksville to celebrate the Hernando County Public Library System’s inaugural Equalitea. And as they sipped tea and ate cookies from rose-patterned tableware, they discussed their favorite literary heroines.

“Equalitea is the brainchild of Library Services Assistant Marelle Kenyon. Marelle is passionate about the rights of all women and wants to provide a safe forum to discuss issues that are of importance to women internationally,” explained East Hernando Branch Supervisor Jennifer Hodges. “During the Equalitea, we will drink tea and snack on butter cookies while discussing the role of strong female protagonists in literature throughout the ages.”

Librarian Marelle Kenyon was determined to serve the women of Hernando County during this Women’s History Month. “As I looked at events being planned throughout the county, I saw so little for Women’s History Month,” she said. “I run a book club here at the library that revolves around women authors and women’s issues, and I thought it was very important that we do this.”

Kenyon began the tea by asking those assembled to name their favorite literary heroines. Answers included Jo March from “Little Women” by Louisa May Alcott, Miss Jane Marple from the Agatha Christie mysteries, Katniss Everdeen from “The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins, Joy from “Five Little Peppers” and “How They Grew” by Margaret Sidney, Detective Aurora Teagarden from Charlaine Harris’ mystery series, Scarlett O’Hara from “Gone With the Wind” by Margaret Mitchell, Anne of “Green Gables” by Lucy Maud Montgomery and Kinsey Millhone from the Sue Grafton’s Alphabet mysteries.

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Then guests proceeded to discuss their favorite TV and movie heroines, praising the work of luminaries that ranged from Lucille Ball to Reese Witherspoon and Kyra Sedgwick, women lauded for directing, producing, writing as well as starring in their own films and TV shows, as well as classic feminist screen goddesses such as Katharine Hepburn and Greta Garbo.

Beyond the page and screen, those in attendance at the Equalitea were asked to consider questions regarding women in their lives who empowered them, who served as good role models, women from history, and women in their own families.

These questions set the stage for a myriad of interesting conversations as the women told stories of themselves, their mothers and grandmothers, aunts, teachers, and friends, getting an education, pursuing careers, and balancing work and family despite all odds. They discussed issues that ranged from discrimination and harassment to changing roles and fashions for women. They conversed about women who keep their own names when they marry and husbands who cook.

Retired Teacher Gretchen Vaughn recalls the tough road she journeyed to reach her career goals. “Many people of that time didn’t think women should go to college unless it was to find a husband,” she said. “But I wanted more.”

So did Joy Galbraith, who told a story that she titled “The Key to Equality.”
“In my neighborhood, a boy built a treehouse and gave keys only to the boys,” she said. “A group of us girls got together and marched down the street in front of the treehouse, picketing. We knew that we were entitled to the very same rights.”

More women heroes will be featured and honored at the Pasco-Hernando State College 50-Year Anniversary and Women’s History Month Celebrations, set to take place from 10 am to 2 pm on Saturday, March 18, at the PHSC North Campus in Brooksville, 11415 Ponce de Leon Boulevard. For more information, write to the PHSC Information Center, [email protected], or 727-847-2727.

Associate Dean of Academic Affairs and Retention Services, Shauna Kincade, shared that this year’s PHSC Women’s History Month Celebration is all about breaking barriers. “This year’s theme for Women’s History Month is: Breaking Barriers: Women Defining Leadership,” said Kincade. “We have an excellent lineup of local leaders (from a variety of specialized fields – education, politics, corporate, etc.) who will share their unique leadership experiences with attendees. Following a Keynote address by Dr. Davina Jones, PHSC’s Porter Campus Provost, attendees will engage with panelists for an “EmpowHer Hour” to discuss common barriers and challenges to leadership (particularly for women) and strategies for success.”

Kincade feels that it’s important for students to learn more about women’s history. “Women have made (and continue to make) significant contributions to society,” she said. “By taking moments to understand, appreciate, and celebrate these contributions, not only do we pay homage to our past but offer a blueprint for the next generation of future leaders.”

Kincade encourages the public to join in this celebration of female empowerment.
“Come out and join us for the NC 50th Anniversary celebration on March 18,” she said. “During the event, the NC will host its Women’s History program from 11 am until 1 pm where the public can engage with local leaders who are making a positive difference not only in their respective fields but in their community as well.”

Kincade also spoke as to what Women’s History Month means to her. She stated, “Women’s History Month is a time to celebrate the achievements and accomplishments of all the great women (past, present, and future) who have endured, suffered, sacrificed, and triumphed. It is a time to honor those who have been pioneers, recognize those who continue to create doors of opportunities for others, and encourage those who aspire to leadership roles.”

“Fun is another important part of this very special celebration. There will be a variety of free activities, including a photo booth, bounce house, games, music, food, vendors, and much more,” read a related news release.

The schedule of the PHSC 50th Anniversary and Women’s History Month celebration is as follows:
10:30 am – Hernando Healthcare Foundation (HHF) Building A dedication with Remarks from Provost Wilson and Dr. Gabbard
Opening Remarks – At the tent behind Building A
10:40 am – Opening Remarks – Dr. Beard, A Building Tent
10:45 am – Opening Remarks – Trustee John Mitten
11 am – Women’s History Program in the Building B Conference Room (B104-105)
Program Agenda is as follows:
11:00 am – Greetings – Provost Wilson
11:05 am – Introduction of Keynote Speaker – Associate Dean Kincade
11:10 am – Keynote Address – Dr. Davina Jones
12:00 pm – Introduction of Panelists & Moderator – Assistant Dean Arlene York
12:00 pm – 1 pm – The “EmpowHer Hour” with panelists:
Ms. Erin Daly – Assistant State Attorney 5th Judicial Circuit Court
Dr. Xonjenese Jacobs – Executive Director, PACE Center for Girls
Ms. Cynthia Brown Jackson – Educator/Counselor/Community Activist
Dr. Davina Jones – Porter Campus Provost
Ms. Marilyn Morales – Businesswoman (Former Senior Vice President of Organizational Effectiveness and Training)
***Moderated by Ms. Wanda Vyborny, Professor Humanities
1 pm – Closing Remarks – Provost Wilson and/or Associate Dean Kincade

This event is free and open to the public.

Megan Hussey
Megan Hussey
Megan Hussey is a features journalist and author who is the winner of Florida Press Association honors and a certificate of appreciation from LINCS (Family Support Domestic and Sexual Violence Prevention Task Force) and Sunrise Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Center for her newspaper coverage of these issues. She graduated cum laude from Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., with a journalism major and English/sociology minor, and previously wrote for publications that include the Pasco editions of The Tampa Tribune and Tampa Bay Times. A native of Indiana, she lives in Florida.
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