Now that women have come so far on the global and national stage, it is at this point particularly important to explore 'where she went' before...
She Went Where? Women Adventurers and Explorers Who Didn't Make the History Books, presented Friday, Jan. 29 at 10 am by Sheryl Long, will be the next presentation of Academia Hernando, a not-for-profit lifelong learning organization that seeks to inform, educate and inspire adult learners in this area through a series of weekly lectures, at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, 2301 Deltona Blvd. in Spring Hill.
"Of course you've heard of Sacagawea and Amelia Earhart, but what about Gertrude Bell, Alexandra David-Neel, and Bessie Coleman? These are just three of the many adventurous women our history lessons forgot to mention," read an event notice. "This course will feature their stories and accomplishments, some of which changed the world as we know it."
Sheryl Long is a retired communications and marketing manager with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Mass Communications from the University of South Florida. In finding a second career as a women's historian, she drew from a highly personal motivation.
"So many of the women who made history did not make the history books," she said. "When my preteen granddaughter showed me wonderful books for kids her age, featuring some of these women, I wrote down their names and did further research."
"Then," she said. "I decided to put a class together."
Long has taken this class to the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at Eckerd College. And last year, she made her debut at Academia Hernando with her ‘Women Inventors Who Didn’t Make the History Books’ presentation.
This year at Academia Hernando Long introduces the audience to 22 groundbreaking woman adventurers--and regarding this illustrious group, she'd be hardpressed to select a favorite.
"I love them all," she said.
Among those luminaries to be discussed in Friday's presentation will be Annie Cohen Kopchovsky, the first woman to bicycle around the world; hot air balloonist Sophie Blanchard; archaeologist and world traveler Gertrude Bell; explorer Alexandra David-Neel; and Bessie Coleman, the first African-American and Native-American woman to earn a pilot's license.
Whether flying the blue skies or hiking the Appalachian trail, Long feels that the lives of these pioneering women all share a common link.
"Their lives are amazing stories," she said.
And the telling of amazing stories is the entire objective of the Academia Hernando adult education program, which claims its origins as a division of the learning in retirement unit of the University of South Florida and originally was called "Mondays in Brooksville." Incorporated as a 501(c) 3 domestic non-profit business Nov. 18, 2010, Academia Hernando this year features an itinerary of nine guest speakers/educators. The program is overseen by board President Marge Griffin; booking is conducted by Sharon Printz and Mickey Mandel, board members of Academia Hernando, backed by a board that provides speaking leads and other valuable support.
And the Academia Hernando program is pleased to welcome Sheryl Long back to the Academia Hernando stage.
"She's a great speaker, and her topic is so intriguing," said Sharon Printz, board member of Academia Hernando. "This is new information to many people, as they learn more about female explorers."
Long confirms that older audiences often express surprise when they hear stories of women ahead of their time.
"I love to hear their feedback, as they question me and share their own knowledge. I learn as well," she said. "And I encourage them to share their new knowledge with their children and grandchildren."
Long plans for future installments of her women's history series, as well as a possible blog on the subject. And what does she hope that younger learners will take away from these teachings?
"I want young women to realize," she said, "that there are no limits."
Other upcoming Academia Hernando presentations will include a FBI Presentation, presented Friday, Feb. 5 at 10 a.m., by a retired FBI Agent; Romance On The Silver Screen, presented Friday, Feb. 12, 10 a.m, by Jason Fortner; Catch Me If You Can: Inside The Mind of the Serial Killer John Wayne Gacy, presented Friday, Feb. 19, 10 a.m., by David Hachmeister; Key West-Pirates, Patriots, and Painters, presented Friday, Feb. 26, 10 a.m., by Cathy Salustri; The Colorful Life of Georgia O'Keeffe, and Friday, Mar. 5 at 10 a.m., by Nan Colton. A Mystery Excursion will round out this year's schedule Friday, March 12.
All presentations will be conducted in accordance with CDC guidelines in a theater booked to half capacity. Masks will be worn by all audience members, who will be socially distanced from one another and the stage. Hand sanitizer will be available.
An Academia Hernando series subscription is $70 per person and includes all lectures and a Mystery Excursion for subscribers only. For more information, visit www.academiahernando.org or call 352-515-0300 or 352-686-4035. Advance registration is strongly recommended, but walk-in visitors are invited to attend at a cost of $10 per presentation if space is available.
"She has a curious mind," reads Long's bio at the Academia Hernando website, "and loves a good story."