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Women's History Month: Women who have made their mark

Illustration by Mattheau Faught/The Et Cetera

In honor of Women’s History Month, The Et Cetera reached out to Dallas College employees to ask which women have had the most influence in their life. 

—Compiled by Chantilette Franklin, Jordan Lackey and Harriet Ramos

1. Which women have been most influential in your life? What about these people did you admire?

Linda Braddy: President of Brookhaven 

When I was 5 years old, my dad moved us to Oklahoma. He bought a house on 200 acres near my Uncle Everett and Aunt Ruby. 

I stayed with my Aunt Ruby when my dad was working and I wasn’t in school, so I got a lot of up-close looks at the rituals of country living. Like how to catch a chicken that was running around in the yard, and all the steps required to fry her up for dinner. 

The most important thing I learned from Aunt Ruby was the value of hard work and a good sense of humor. I don’t remember Aunt Ruby ever sitting down to read or watch television — it seems she was working all the time — nor do I remember ever hearing her complain about anything. What I do remember is laughing a lot. 

I have discovered in my own life how gratifying it feels to put in a hard day’s work and how a good sense of humor can help you get through hard times.

Sandra Evans: Digital Media Faculty

My mom and my grandma have been highly influential in the woman I have become. My mom worked so hard to provide a good home for my siblings and me and made sure we got a good education.

Shawnda Floyd: Provost

My mother, my third grade teacher Mrs. Williams and Dr. Joanne Epps, Dean of Temple University School of Law when I attended. Each woman possesses strength that makes what they do seem easy and flawless.

Their lives and chosen professions were not easy. Their influence and work ethic made me desire to be like them — strong, smart, resilient.

Danielle Georgiou: Dance Faculty

I have had the opportunity to work with two women at Eastfield who have influenced my life greatly — Lori Honeycutt and Iris Bechtol. Their strong sense of self, dedication to their artistic crafts and work ethic are admirable. They inspire me to be a great educator and artist. I will always identify myself as a student of their processes. 

Matt Hinckley: History Faculty

My paternal grandmother, Mary Hinckley Ross, as a widow raised four young boys on a farm for ten years while working nights as a hospital nurse.

My partner, Christie Hancock, put herself through community college and university as a nontraditional student while also working full-time. Through her persistence [she] has risen to an executive level position with a startup civil engineering firm.

Beatriz Joseph: President of Mountain View, Vice Chancellor of Student Success

The most influential woman in my life has been my mom. Her relentless battle to give her children a better life, her unwavering support for us even when she didn’t fully agree with our choices, her ability to be a safe harbor when we needed to be vulnerable and her never-ending confidence in us even when we weren’t sure of ourselves are all things I admire about my mom.  

Nina Lambert: English Faculty

My maternal grandmother taught me to read, so she is pretty much the reason I am who I am. She was the definition of love, and she taught me that family is everything. She was an amazing cook and the most caring and loving person I have ever known in my life. 

My paternal grandmother was a force to be reckoned with. She was a legendary pharmacist in my hometown in Russia — the kind who compounded medicines by hand — who could take a look at me when I was a kid, hear me cough or sneeze a couple of times, and know what I needed to get better. 

During WWII, when my grandfather was fighting in the war and my father was a toddler, she supported her family by making soap and matches. She was self-made, self-sufficient and nothing could stop her.

Oscar Passley: Music Faculty

My mother sacrificed a lot for me and our family. She even bought me my first trumpet. She is always encouraging us to do our best and our biggest cheerleader in life, even to this day.

Mrs. Hall was my piano teacher in high school.  She recognized my talent for music and was incredibly encouraging. She was also a remarkable musician herself and would inspire me by just listening to her demonstrate different musical pieces in our lessons. 

Rufel Ramos: English Faculty

My mom is my earliest role model of what it means to be a woman, mother, wife, teacher, Filipino immigrant and proud American. She’s the hardest-working person I know, as well as the most neurotic person I know. Even at age 74, she drives me crazy, and I love her.

The other ones have been teachers who inspired me to pursue writing when I was in middle school. My Honors Reading teacher Mrs. Bearden and Honors English teacher Mrs. Campbell were the first ones to insist that I was already a writer, and I admire them for having faith in me to become a novelist someday.

The final one is novelist Madeleine L’Engle. She influenced my imagination so much that I often mention her in blog posts, and I even mentioned her in my dissertation.

Christa Slejko: President of North Lake

Sometimes you are influenced by your challenges as much or more than the positive experiences in your life.  I was raised by a strong mother who pushed me to choose a career in which I could support myself and never need to rely on anyone else. 

She insisted that I major in Information Technology because I could get a good job.  Information Technology is not my natural strength and getting through school was very hard and stressful. I did not graduate at the top of my class, but I got through it, and I did get a good job.

Although I didn’t like my mother’s influence in this, and other ways, I recognize that it set me on a path of security and gave me confidence that I could take care of myself.  My mother was very strong, and she held our family together by herself.  I admired her strength and independence. 

Erica Stephens: Art Faculty

Annetta Kapon was my cultural studies professor in grad school. She also taught me about how to gracefully walk the line between the practical requirements of being a teacher and the opportunities one has as a teacher to show compassion and caring. She taught me how to simultaneously be both a teacher and a friend.

Vicki Meek is an artist and activist in Dallas who has shown me the importance of being a good member of my community and of using the access and assets I have to help others succeed. In particular, Vicki has taught me about the legacies of female mentorship and helped me to understand my place in those legacies. I am in a beautiful place in my life now of being a mentee to others while still being mentored by women like her.

Dusty Thomas: Drama Faculty

My mother and my aunts have always made a huge impact on my life. They are all incredible in different ways and have helped to shape the wife, mother and woman I have become. I consider myself a nurturer and a care-giver, as well as a smart and dedicated teacher — all of which I have learned from my mother, my aunts Angie, Billie, Sheila and Elaine. I am so lucky to have them, not only for myself but for my daughters as well.

David Willburn: Art Faculty

When I was a kid, my mother would sit on the front porch with me to draw. I loved watching her draw things like my bicycle leaning against the fence, or people from imagination. This helped to keep me engaged with art classes in school.

My step-mother also encouraged me to pursue a creative education. She had a master’s degree in education, which was very inspiring. She was a big proponent of reading, and that got me interested in reading, which is something I do every night before I go to bed. 

Oslynn Williams: Digital Media Faculty

The woman that has been most influential in my life would be my wife, Portia Williams. What I admire about Portia is her reputation for being trustworthy, distinctive, compassionate and her acts with goodwill. She speaks up and speaks out, where I am more reserved at times, as well as a big thinker. We complement one another well, and I learn a lot from her that fills those gaps in myself. 

2. Which women do you look up to in your chosen career field? Can you explain how they impacted you?

Danielle Georgiou: Dance Faculty

My greatest mentor has been Katherine Owens. I began training with her when I started working as a collaborator at Undermain Theatre. She took everything that I had learned in school, flipped it upside, and showed me how it applied in the real world of theatre.

One of the greatest lessons I learned from her was that the theatre world was what you made it. She always found someone or something to be interested in. She shared all her findings with you at every given moment of the day — an email with links upon links to new work, text messages that were photo dumps of things she found beautiful, books or photocopies of poems slipped into your bag during a rehearsal.

It was amazing how she had a constant relationship with artists and writers who were doing different things. She just always wanted to know what was happening. And she instilled that in me. 

Eddie Healy: Music Faculty

Dr. Brandi Estwick, voice faculty member at Texas Woman’s University and Collin College, has been my duet partner and best friend for many years. She has inspired me to become a better, more sensitive and more thoughtful musician. Her passion about music and her strong work ethic have pushed me to become a more effective music educator as well.

Matt Hinckley: History Faculty

One of my graduate school professors, Dr. Monica Rankin of UT-Dallas, was both an excellent mentor to me and is a highly esteemed scholar of the history of women and gender in Latin America. She always had time to guide my studies with questions that caused me to think and helped me improve both my writing and my teaching.

Nina Lambert: English Faculty

In my career field of teaching college English, I look up to Dr. Roxane Gay. She is a very well-known, amazing writer. She taught English at Eastern Illinois University, Purdue University and Yale.

She teaches an online master class on writing for social change, in addition to constantly writing about important social issues. She is someone who constantly demonstrates that writing makes an enormous difference in the world, something that I hope to show to my students as well. 

Oscar Passley: Music Faculty

Pierrette Mouledous has been teaching piano for Dallas College — she started at El Centro before coming to Eastfield in 1970 — since 1966.  She was on the hiring committee that brought me on. 

I’ve been working alongside her since 2007 and have seen the patience and extreme dedication she has to her students and teaching in general. I’ve gone to her numerous times for guidance on various things and she even helped me translate some French letters/emails for my dissertation that I wrote 10 years ago. I am a better person and professor because of her. 

Rufel Ramos: English Faculty

For teaching in general, Mrs. Bearden and Mrs. Campbell. They knew how to make students feel good about themselves, especially when their students were struggling with stuff outside of the classroom. They were close colleagues working together, so that was also cool to see.

For college level, Eileen Gregory, a retired English professor at the University of Dallas. She was my undergrad faculty advisor as well as my dissertation advisor. Her intelligent yet quirky personality and humorous approach to teaching college-level material became role models for my own.

For being a writer, Ursula LeGuin, because she could world build like crazy while, at the same time, delve deep into the psychology of her characters. I only hope to be half the writer that she was.

Dusty Thomas: Drama Faculty

At Eastfield I have been most influenced by Janice Franklin, Rachel Wolf McWhorter, Courtney Carter, Dr. Amber Pagel, Kassi Buck, Judith Dumont, Lauren Young, Sharon Cook and Jean Conway. Although some of these amazing women are no longer at the college, I am better, and the college is better for them having been there. Students who have come under the mentorship of these super women should also consider themselves blessed.

David Willburn: Art Faculty

First would be Professor Kathy Windrow, my first college art professor. Not only did she teach me many of the fundamentals of drawing and painting, but she introduced me to the rest of art history that I didn’t learn about in public school. She showed (and still does) my classes the inclusive version of art history, where women, people of color, and non-western cultures played prominent roles in the story of art. 

Oslynn Williams: Digital Media Faculty

In the industry of Graphic Design, I would have to say Karen Spears, the founder of Karacter Creative Agency. In this industry, I inform my students that your demand comes from your own spin into what you are doing.  She has her own style and spins in solving creative problems. 

Local, contemporary artist Margaret Meehan inspires me because she makes brilliant work addressing social and political issues. Becca Booker is another artist who makes amazing work and is one of the strongest women I know. 

3. Which women have inspired you in your role as a leader?

Linda Braddy: President of Brookhaven

When I was a dean, my boss was Dr. Jo Bagley, the vice president for academic affairs. She was actually the first female supervisor I had ever had in my career in higher education. The things I admired most about her were the depth of her empathy, her ability to connect with people on a human level and the breadth of her knowledge and expertise. 

Dr. Bagley influenced my own leadership style and philosophy more than anyone else ever did. I admired how knowledgeable she was, and she inspired me to strive for the highest level of expertise possible. I also admired her ability to consistently extend empathy to those around her, and she inspired me to set that as one of my personal goals.

Beatriz Joseph: President of Mountain View, Vice Chancellor of Student Success

Our students, who in spite of so many obstacles continue to fight for a better life. Our faculty and staff, who are constantly attuned to the needs of our students and one another. My colleagues, who, especially this year, have been creative, supportive and daring in our quest to help our students achieve the promise of a better life through education.

Christa Slejko: President of North Lake

I worked many years for North Lake president, Dr. Herlinda Glasscock, and I learned a lot about leadership from her.  She was confident but never arrogant. She was inclusive and sought input, but always owned her decisions.  I always sensed that she wanted to be the best, but not as a means of competing or comparing herself with her peers.  

There is also something very powerful about someone seeing potential in you, perhaps before you see it in yourself.  She saw potential in me that I hadn’t fully realized. As a leader, you can really impact someone by letting them know you recognize their strengths, or you call out their strengths before they fully know them.
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