On 30 May 2014, I graduated from a liberal arts women’s college. These four years have been instrumental to my development as an individual, and I would argue that the very fact that it is a women’s college has been the lynchpin to all that I have achieved.
From here on, I will refer to my college as W, its first initial; this blog is a personal and I would not like to link it to my professional endeavors.
W provided me with two very incredible things: women role models and women peers.
First, the women role models at W have opened my eyes to what my future may hold. For me and many others, gender identification is a large part of our lives and due to societal constructs, we can never really view male role models as the same as female role models. To me, women role models are simply more inspiring because in Western society, there is still a well-documented glass ceiling that men do not face. At W, this glass ceiling does not exist. As a women’s college, W makes a point to have gender-balanced faculty and staff. At every stage in my college career, I have had both women and men for guidance. Witnessing established, professional men interact with and respectfully treat their women counterparts as equals is critical. As a woman, I can relate to the women professionals and think that, “Ah, I can be like that one day.” Every day, I am also reminded of our thousands of women alumnae, who in spite of the glass ceiling, have become successful and live life according to their own terms.
Second, the women peers at W have opened my eyes to what I can do now. W tends to attract a specific type of individual: in-control, ambitious and intense. Being surrounded by women my age who know what they want and go out to achieve that has been an profound experience. I recognize that some in my college were unhappy with such a high-stress and competitive environment, but for me, it was a source of inspiration and drove me to continue on. Those that succeeded were my friends, my intellectual equals– if they could do this, then so could I.
As much as is possible, W was a paragon of meritocracy– a model that I will continue to look back at and refer to for the rest of my life. W is the world as it should be; judged on merits and not gender or any other irrelevant features. It is a cosseted bubble, but one that let us know our potential and gave us an even playing field to try out our weaknesses and strengths. W made me realize that there are thousands like me in the world, hungry to continually better herself and stand up for our desires and beliefs. As I get ready to face the world as a new graduate, I am reassured that I am not alone.