Honoring the accomplishments of Kent State’s visionary women

Students walk the runway at Kent State on Oct. 27, 2018, for the show “Stepping Out of Stereotypes.” The show shed light on stereotypes women face and gave models the opportunity to “step out” and show their true colors. (FILE)

KentWired Staff

Women’s History Month first came to fruition as a week of celebration on March 7, 1982, according to womenshistorymonth.org. Five years later, after petitions by the National Women’s History Project, Congress designated March of 1987 as “Women’s History Month.” Additional efforts to make March the official month of female celebration pursued, and March became Women’s History Month in the mid-1990s.  

March celebrates the many women in everyone’s lives. Women are mothers, sisters, girlfriends, professors, mentors, bosses and best friends. Without hardworking women, Kent State University wouldn’t be the successful place of higher education it is today. Influential women are found all within Kent State’s staff, faculty and students, and here are a few of these great women’s stories.

The first African-American woman to teach fashion at KSU

By Tyler Haughn

Tameka Ellington is an associate professor in the fashion school at Kent State and has taught there since 2005 when she became the first African-American professor to teach in the Fashion School. Throughout her time working as an associate professor at Kent State, Ellington has taught fashion design classes. She is currently in the process of stepping down from teaching and looking forward to starting her new role as the full-time associate dean for the college of the arts in Spring 2020, where she will also be recognized as the first African-American dean in the history of the college.

Ellington said she is looking forward to the new administrative responsibilities she will assume while serving as the new associate dean but will also miss teaching and interacting with her students.

“This is my last semester teaching so it’s very bittersweet,” Ellington said. “I know I’m going to be crying because I’m going to miss my students so much.”

Prior to beginning her career as a Kent State professor, Ellington received her Bachelor’s of Arts Degree in fashion design from Kent State and her Master’s of Arts degree in apparel and textile design from Michigan State University. Ellington also earned a Doctor of Philosophy in curriculum and instruction in 2011 from Kent State.

Ellington said being the first African-American to serve as an associate dean of the college of the arts allows her to use the opportunity to represent other women who want to forge their own distinguished careers. 

“It’s a deeper sentiment because I feel like I’m blazing a trail for other people coming behind me,” Ellington said.

Ellington said being the first African-American professor in the department has made it more difficult for her to overcome gender and racial barriers that had been in place long before she arrived at Kent State.

 “It was hard for me to get the position and when I got the position, there were instances where I didn’t feel very welcome,” Ellington said. “In the grand scheme of things, everything worked out exactly how it was supposed to work. I allow my work to speak for itself.”

Ellington has gone on to have a successful career where she created designs influenced by African culture and African American folklore that have been shown internationally during two exhibitions in Beijing, China, and had had her work featured in a solo show entitled RETOLD: African culture and fables reinterpreted into fashion Fall 2016.

Ellington said that while there is a growing contingent of women in fashion and similar industries achieving successful careers, there are still many obstacles women must overcome to gain equal recognition in the workplace as their male counterparts.

“It is still very gender biased,” Ellington said. “Women are still looked at as the workers and men are thought of as the thinkers. We have a lot of very creative, successful women who are designers. However, they don’t necessarily get the same recognition for their work as men. It’s very difficult for women, especially women of color, to break into those high roles and to get those positions.”

Ellington said there are many inspirational women who work in different roles all across Kent State who are serving as leading examples for young women to look up to and emulate.

“Academia overall is still very male-dominated,” Ellington said. “However, the women on this campus that have been able to rise into those administrative roles are very dynamic individuals and they deserve to be celebrated.”

Tyler Vaughn is a general assignment reporter. 


Mother and Daughter

By Lauren Sasala

Walking to class with her daughter is something Carrie Hahn didn’t imagine she would do.

Hahn started school at Kent State in 1984 and took classes for six years but financial and family issues ultimately caused Hahn to leave. Now, more than 30 years later, Hahn is spending a final semester on campus with her daughter, Ally Hahn, a junior marketing major.

“I always thought I’d go back but I didn’t think it’d be 30 years,” Carrie Hahn said.

Now that her children are grown up and Carrie wants to return to work, it was important for her to finish her undergraduate degree.

At first, Ally said she was nervous about having her mom on campus, but said it’s been a good experience—especially when her mom brings her groceries.  

Carrie said the pair have a close relationship and there isn’t a negative to going to school together.

The pair try to see each other every Tuesday and Thursday, the only days they are on campus together. Ally and Carrie even said they plan to go out during Ladies Night, a Tuesday night tradition in Kent, before the end of the semester.

Carrie said she enjoys school and learning, so it meant a lot to her to return to school and earn a degree. The opportunity to go back to school inspired Carrie to be an example for others.

“I know there’s probably other women out there who maybe didn’t finish school because they started families or something,” Carrie said. “I would just say not to give up that dream or that plan … there’s lots of ways to get back if you want to further an academic degree of some kind and further yourself.”

Carrie is set to graduate in May with a degree in integrated studies.

“I’m very proud of her,” Ally said.

After graduation, Carrie said she is thinking about attending law school to further her education even more.

Lauren Sasala is the administration reporter. Contact her at [email protected]

Recognizing the value of self-worth

By Ellie Dundics 

Lydia Rose recognized the importance of knowing your worth, finding balance in life and helping others at a very young age.

Rose grew up in Bellflower, California where she was active in Girl Scouts throughout high school. While learning many life skills as a scout, one pivotal lesson Rose remembers is being one of the first troops to earn a substantial trip to Hawaii by raising money and working hard.

“That trip, my mom reminded me, was that no matter what you want to do, you can do it,” Rose said. “As long as you have a plan, you work hard towards it, and not to quit until you have accomplished it.”

Rose earned her Ph.D through Purdue University in sociology that guided her to study inequality in different perspectives. She is now an associate professor of sociology, director of the Social Science Research Lab, interdisciplinary research leader—all at Kent State East Liverpool—and a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Fellow, program provides the nation’s most comprehensive learning experience at the nexus of health, science, and policy in Washington, D.C according to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation website.

The desire to help out communities that are somewhat at a disadvantage and helping the community was always important to Rose so she jumped on the opportunity in 2010 to give a helping hand to the East Liverpool campus. Rose works hard to motivate and inspire her students. She has taken part in numerous community service events with her students such as a community health and wellness rally and a Veteran’s event where veterans and their families come to celebrate their service and education.

Most recently, she attended and planned a committee for the Environmental Justice Conference to bring awareness to the pollution industry coming to the East Liverpool community.

Setting aside her life as a career woman, Rose is most proud to be a mother. She implements her family in her career when it comes to research questions or community service acts. Rose thinks of her daughter, a KSU sophomore in fashion design, and how she can create a pathway of success like her mother did for her when she was younger.

When it comes to being a woman in her career, Rose said she has faced many disadvantages—like being the only woman in a meeting or getting pushed aside because a man seemed more deserving. Through it all, Rose said that she stood strong to make it hard for others to degrade her worth.

“When you are faced with discriminatory behavior, it’s hard to know whether it’s because you’re a woman or a minority or because you don’t have the skills,” Rose said. “We question those things because you don’t know what the absolute truth is, you only know what you are capable are doing and you have to embrace your own gifts and your own skills.”

Ellie Dundics is the regionals reporter. Contact her at [email protected]

The powerhouse of Kent State’s lacrosse team

By Amanda Levine

Women’s lacrosse coach Brianne Tierney has always been around sports; her father was a lacrosse coach and her sister played basketball. Tierney played multiple sports growing up, but it wasn’t until tenth grade when she began taking lacrosse seriously.

Tierney began her college lacrosse career at Loyola College-Maryland, but played most of her career at Colgate University. At both the high school and college level, she was constantly surrounded by influential coaches. At Loyola College Diane Geppi-Aikens served as her coach, while Katrina Silva was her coach at Colgate University.

“Diane Geppi-Aikens is sort of a figurehead in women’s lacrosse world and was an amazing coach who passed away of brain cancer right after my freshman year,” Tierney said. “She just kind of created the Loyola lacrosse program and was such a phenomenal lady and a great coach and really cares about us and was a big reason I went to Loyola.”

During her college career Tierney had three season-ending injuries in her five-year career. Her motivation began to change and with a big sports family, Tierney said there was some family pride invovled too.

“I think if I had a kid now that had three season-ending injuries, I’d be like why don’t you step away, find something else to do with your time,” Tierney said. “But I think the fact that I kept coming back to it. After one you’re like I’m going to get back in and have the career I want, and then after the second one ‘Alright well, let’s just get through this’ and see where I come back and what happens and after the third one… make it through a season and be able to play again.”

After finishing her career as a player, Tierney began to transition to the coaching side of lacrosse. She originally wanted to go into sports management and sports law, but didn’t enjoy a traditional 9 to 5 job. In college, Tierney worked with college coaches and agents but missed playing lacrosse, being outside and teaching.

Going from the field to the sidelines because of injuries, Tierney picked up a lot of coaching perspective. From the bench, Tierney was able to get a different point of view that helped her later on with her coaching skills. Kent State assistant coach Morgan Fee said that Tierney makes the environment safe, fun and educational for everybody.

Amanda Glass, an assistant coach for women’s lacrosse, pointed to Tierney’s consistency and transparency that makes her stand out as a great coach. Despite a loss, she’s still able to identify successes.

“I think what she brings is just consistency and that help a new team kind of travel through this whole new journey that they’re going through,” Glass said. “She’s also been so consistent in providing for them while also being so transparent. If she’s upset about how a drill has been done, she’ll let them know, give them a second, recollect, let’s do it better.”

Tierney’s long history as a player and coach have increased her knowledge of the sport, something that exemplifies what other coaches and players want in a coach. Fee described her coaching skills as rambunctious and a coach who likes to get involved in the drills.

“It helps the girls get engaged ‘OK, they know what they’re talking about, because they’re hopping in and showing us how to do it,’” Fee said. “That’s the coaching style that I really respected as a player.”

Fee remembers a time when Tierney attended a Ohio State lacrosse camp and jumped in on the drills that they were practicing. Tierney ended up playing a game of one-on-one against the Buckeyes’ director of operations and didn’t back down.

“She was kind of going really hard, but it was amazing,” Fee said. “For someone to get rattled a little bit, like as a demonstration, she didn’t let her affect her. After watching her go through the demo and then continue to coach … she knows a lot of what she’s doing.”

Though Tierney has been around lacrosse forever, being a female coach in 2019 can bring with it challenges. Tierney said that her knowledge of the game was never questioned, but that men’s and women’s lacrosse are very different in terms of rules.

“You see coaches and professional women who are mothers and you just start kind of like, ‘Oh, she makes it look so easy,’ but you’re kind of getting pulled in a couple different directions,” Tierney said. “Being able to cry about it some days, but make it work has been pretty empowering for me.”

Fee said that Tierney brings with her an aura of empowerment.

“It just brings our positivity level, our encouragement, our empowerment level so much higher than anything else I’ve really been a part of,” Fee said.

With Kent State’s lacrosse program consisting of all underclassman, both coaches had players had no upperclassmen to lean on. There was no one for advice on where to eat, where things are and how things run. Freshman defender Hailee Andry said that Tierney helped with the transition from high school to college lacrosse.

Andry described Tierney as someone who cares about her players and has a clear passion for lacrosse. When she first joined the team she knew that Tierney would bring in good people because “good people bring in good people.”

“Her and the other coaches have kind of been people to look up to as far as our upperclassmen. She’s been a good person to come to for advice,” Andry said. “She’s been there for us, whether it’s academic help, lacrosse help, life — she’s just been there for us.”

Through years of playing sports and coaching, Tierney has gained an inside scope on how to be the best at the game, especially for women in sports. Tierney believes that it is important to not lose your identity as an athlete and take what you learn during the games and attribute it off the field.

“Finding those good athletes and those good attributes and taking them with you off the field, but if you don’t have a good game… it’s not losing yourself in a win or a loss,” Tierney said. “It’s finding success and growth.”

 Amanda Levine is a sports reporter. Contact her at [email protected].

Queer, black and female: Victoria Walters’ three identities 

By Alexandra Sobczak

“I don’t see my being queer or my being a woman or my being black as a barrier so much as an identifier,” said Victoria Walters, the residence hall director of Korb and Leebrick halls. “It’s a recognized truth about myself.”

Despite her identities not being a barrier to success, she has faced challenges in life due to her gender, race and sexuality, she said.

“From a very, very young age, (I knew) that I was treated differently from boys,” Walters said. “I didn’t quite have the words for it, but I was really upset about it.”

Walters recalls being told to play house or paint in kindergarten while she wanted to build with Legos, and she remembers seeing mostly men in positions of power on the military base where she grew up.

As she got older, she experienced some “hateful” situations while out with friends.

“Thinking about some experiences I’ve had … someone is drunk and gets bold enough to say some really awful racist, sexist, homophobic things,” she said. “Multiple times in my life, I’ve not just been called ‘an N-word.’ I’ve been called ‘an N-word bitch,’ and so that is … so specifically targeted and hateful.”

Sexism and racism are sometimes connected, she said.

“The way that I experience racism is oftentimes sexualized, and the way

I experience sexism is often racialized,”

she said.

Similarly to when she was in kindergarten, Walters noticed the differences between how men and women are treated in their careers. Women often have to work harder to be seen as equally capable, exert more emotional labor and stand up for themselves less than men do, she said.

“If you are sticking up for yourself and someone did something wrong, women are very much taught not to make a fuss,” she said. “Whereas men are not socialized in the same way.”

Walters thinks that there is a good conversation happening about identities on Kent’s campus. She participates in this through being a residence hall director.

As a residence hall director, Walters does “social justice, diversity and inclusion work,” among other things — a “smorgasbord of all the things (she loves) about student affairs.”

Even a simple conversation can cause great change. This is the first time students are having a conservation about individuals who are different from themselves, Walters said.

Walters believes in being conscious of all different identities, capabilities and backgrounds.

“Always remember to center the most vulnerable of every population,” she said. “And thinking about Women’s History Month, make sure that you are going above and beyond to center and to promote the voices of black women, indigenous women, poor women, women who are sex workers, trans women, black trans women … not just centering white women and cis women and straight women.”

Alexandra Sobczak is a general assignment reporter. Contact her at [email protected].

Cadets share ROTC experiences that made them stronger women

By Jill Golden

Female cadets in Kent State’s Army ROTC said they feel the program provides equal opportunities that help motivate and empower them to achieve their goals.

“The United States Army is a place of equality and equal opportunity,” said Cadet Danielle DeCristofaro, a junior history major.

The program has the same expectations and guidelines for both men and women, said Cadet Alex Warner, a senior exercise science major.

“We wear the same gear, qualify the same with weapons, ruck the same distance and next year will have the same PT (physical fitness test) standards,” Warner said.

Any problems the cadets have faced throughout the program have been on achieving personal goals, said Cadet Keirston Spiewak, a sophomore psychology major, who sometimes struggles with pushups and running exercises.

“All it takes is hard work and self-motivation,” Spiewak said.

Some cadets said they felt they would be treated differently when they entered the program because they are female. After beginning the program, though, they found it to not be the case.

“I was worried about respect and being treated the same, but to most people I have come across, I have been able to prove I am just as capable as any other soldier or cadet,” Warner said.

Warner said she got through the challenges and feelings of being at a disadvantage as a female cadet by facing them head-on and proving she was capable of the physical and mental obstacles in the program.

“To most people, you simply have to show you have earned your place,” Warner said.

The Army ROTC program teaches college students leadership and military skills in order to prepare them to be Army officers.

“Being a woman does not change any capabilities of becoming a great officer,” Spiewak said.

The female cadets believe that success in the program is not based on gender, but on how cadets apply the skills and tools they have learned throughout the program.

“The Army will always give you the tools you need to succeed,” DeCristofaro said. “It is just up to you to make it happen. Organizations are just looking for people who can effectively do their job and effectively lead others to do the same. As long as you can do that and consistently meet the standards given to you, you will be successful.”

If a cadet, man or woman, has the knowledge to help themselves or others, he or she should use it, Warner said. The cadets encourage all young women to join the ROTC program because it has helped push themselves to achieve goals they are proud of.

“To any young ladies who are thinking of joining the program, you won’t regret it,” Warner said. “It’s the most empowering thing I have ever done.”

Jill Golden covers non-traditional, ROTC and veterans. Contact her at [email protected].  

REFLECTION: Strong women raise strong women

By Adriona Murphy

My mom is my hero and my best friend. Now, I know how cliche and stupid that sounds because most people would probably say their mom is a rockstar. But as far as badass women go, my mom tops the list in my book. Although I’ve always told my mom I never wanted to work in insurance like her and my grandma, I have always wanted to be like her.

My mom went to college in 1994 and was pregnant with me in 1997. She left school after her spring semester that year and moved home to have me. Throughout her pregnancy, she worked several jobs, and even took some classes. After I was born, she started working full-time and went back to school.

My dad wasn’t the best at the time and my mom told him “I’m not raising two children” and basically told him to go. 

I remember watching my mom cross the stage at her graduation. We were up in the bleachers and it was so unbearably hot for my tiny self that I just kept complaining about how I wanted to go home, not realizing how important this moment was for my mom.

I was admittedly a really good student throughout high school, and now college. She likes to think that’s it’s all me, that I got my brains from God or that it’s all me. Truth be told, I think I get it from her. Every time I think about how much I hate school and how I want to drop out and try my hand at being an Instagrammer, I remember my mom still finished college even with a baby. 

Even though she was a single mom who worked full-time, she made it to every first day of school, sporting event, dance recital, play, everything. She listened to me cry after my first breakup, she laughed with me when I told her about my friend’s bad haircut, she went to see movies with me that she definitely didn’t care about when my friends didn’t want to go. My mom worked so hard, and even though I’m sure she struggled, she never once showed that side to me.

Like most mothers, she taught me a lot of important things — how to tie my shoes, how to drive, how to cook for myself. But one of the most important things was how to be strong when you don’t think you can.

Half of the things I’ve been able to do, I wouldn’t have done without her. I can tell you right now I would not have been able to get my post-graduation job without her undying support and love. 

She inspires me everyday to work for what I want, and kick ass when I do it. I have a lot of friends who were raised by single moms who feel the same way: powerful women raise powerful women. Any single mom, regardless of the situation, is a powerful woman all of their own.

She’s also made it very clear that, yes of course, it’s important to be strong. But it’s also important to be vulnerable and ask for help, something I struggled with a lot when I was a kid. 

But as I’ve grown up, I’ve realized I’m empathic because of her (thanks for making me a cryer, mom). For reference, she cried when she found out I got into Ohio State and then cried when I told her I wasn’t going there. She cried when I told her I got an interview for my dream job, and then cried even harder when I told her I got it.

She helps me with the smallest things. I ask her to proofread my emails or if I’m sending a text to someone that could result in some sort of confrontation. When I need advice, am walking to class or just need to scream into the void for a little while, she the first person I call. 

Even now as an adult, I still have days when I just think, “I really need my mom.” And even if it’s 2:30 in the morning and she has to be up for work at 6, she always answers.

Adriona Murphy is the opinion editor. Contact her at [email protected]


OPINION: Women work just as hard as men

I come from a long line of strong women; ones of power, intelligence and compassion. My mother raised three kids on a primarily single income household. She worked for the United States Steel Corporation, a male-dominated workspace for most of my life. In this environment,  my mother held her head high as she wore her mind and body down to provide for me and my siblings.

Often times she’d work 12 to 18 hour shifts and occasionally I’d go days without seeing her. It bothered me when I was younger. But as I grew older, I began to think about what she and the women in my family have sacrificed for their families.

My nana is no stranger to the inner workings of a male dominated field either. She worked at U.S. Steel before my mother in a time where women were significantly making less than men (more so than now) and workspaces like hers were filled with sexist remarks and hard labor. When times got tough and she was forced to change jobs, she did so without hesitation in order to give my family the support they needed. Both my mom and my nana worked tirelessly, coming home and raising children to better the lives of their children.

In male dominated fields of work, women are often times belittled, paid less, harassed or worse. According to a study conducted by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, there was a 19.5 percent gap between the pay of men and women. While the number doesn’t look especially large, if we break it down with numbers found in the study, a man could make $52,146 while his female counterpart would only make $41,977.

I can’t help but think of my mother and nana breaking their backs, bruising their bodies and blistering their hands with grease to give me the ability to sit here on my MacBook Pro laptop at Kent State University. I think about how their time, their bodies, their very existence have been deemed less important than men.

Many women are working just as hard as men to provide for their families yet primitive wage gaps are making their lives significantly more difficult. My nana and mother had the support of my papa and step-dad a luxury that millions of mothers don’t have. So when these wage gaps exist who exactly we hurting? The women? Their children?

Wage gaps affect everyone and while the general population seems to see an issue with them, little action is taken to actually end them. Be advocates for the movements you claim to believe in. Speak up and make a change. Look to your heroes in life for inspiration.I know I do. When I need sources for inspiration and strength, I see the faces of my mother and my nana and then I remember where I came from and who I want to be.

Lyric Aquino is the features editor. Contact her at [email protected]