Yeah. Why not? I remember my undergrad anthropology class professor, Dr. Nancy Black, saying there are two kinds of women. She said it much better than this, but in a nutshellâ€¦
â€“The first kind of woman feels sheÂ had to struggle every step of the way to become successful, so dang it, every other woman needs to do that too. This type of woman almost bitterly begrudges other womenâ€™s achievements, particularly if those achievements seem to come too easily.
â€“The second kind of woman also struggled every step of the way to become successful, but then did something astonishing. She caught her breath at the top, and then reached back to help other women find their footing as well.
Nancy is, without question, in the second group. I would be at a loss to count all the women she has fought for, supported, and inspired. I just know Iâ€™m one of them.
Her story is one that may sound familiar to women who had early dreams and goals, but who were dismissed by their families.Â Â Raised in New York; Nancy possessed the intelligence and ambition to go to college. The problem? Her parents only had the resources to send one child to college, and in their view, the best return on the investment would come from their son getting a degree.
Nancy decided she would do it on her own, and she did. She attained her B.A., Anthropology, summa cum laude, Pennsylvania State University, in 1977, her M. A., Anthropology, The University of New York at Albany, in1979, and her Ph.D., Anthropology, The University of New York at Albany, in 1989. Not bad for someone deemed likely to waste an education. Oh. She also married and had a daughter during this time. (You know, the reason college degrees are wasted on women and not men? Donâ€™t get me started.)
Nancy went on to teach at Harvard, at Hamline University, at the University of Minnesota, and then at Metropolitan State University where I had the privilege of being her student.
Iâ€™ve heard rumors this is her last semester of teaching before retirement, although it is difficult for me to believe sheâ€™ll start puttering around the house. Nancy is simply wired to be a doer, a giver, and a role model for women who want more than our culture believes we deserve to achieve.
On my bookshelf, near my computer, sits several â€œNancyâ€ booksâ€¦one she gave me as a gift, and two that she wrote. I also have a cherished Maya back strap loom weaving that Nancy gave me as a graduation gift when I received my Master of Liberal Studies degree. Every time I look at those â€œpieces of Nancyâ€ I feel supported and feisty. I also feel a tremendous wave of gratitude.
Thank you, Nancy, for reaching back and lifting me up when you already carried a tremendous load on your slender shoulders. Extraordinary isnâ€™t a big enough word for you, nor is it equal to your body of work or the heart that guides you.
You called me your â€œworry-dimpleâ€ student, and Iâ€™m honored to call you my friend.