A panel comprised of Slippery Rock University women, including students, faculty and staff, discussed their journeys to success, their setbacks and how they overcame them at a discussion on Tuesday in the Smith Student Center Theater.
The event was sponsored by the President’s Commission on the Status of Women as part of Women’s History Month.
The panel consisted of head softball Coach, Stacey Rice, payroll manager, Margie Riddell, sophomore exercise science major and gerontology minor Katelynn Kletzli, senior psychology major Ayanna Byers, dean of the college of liberal arts, Dr. Ava Tsuquiashi-Daddesio and professor and chair of the dance department, Ursula Payne.
The event was moderated by Dr. Kim Keeley, assistant professor of exercise and rehabilitative sciences.
Rice began the conversation, and said if there was one thing that she wished she’d known along the way that she knows now, it would be to not worry about things that she can’t control. She said in high school and college, she was constantly worried about everything that she couldn’t control, including the weather, people and their decisions.
“Being a little older, I’ve noticed that my stress level has really gone down, and I’ve been able to handle pressures at work and at home so much easier,” Rice said. “I would say that I still lay on a type A (personality), but I definitely have more elements on type B in me. I would encourage everyone in this room to really learn how to do that because if not, it can really affect your success.”
Byers said going into college, a major setback that she has faced, and still sometimes faces today, is realizing that she’s enough. She said she can remember in 7th grade, she would receive a series of comments that really made her feel like she wasn’t enough.
“I remember being placed in the second to lowest classes available,” Byers said. “I can remember walking into classes and teachers sending me to ISS (in school suspension) for speaking and challenging them. Their comments would be, ‘she’s disrespectful, she has an attitude, she just wants to cause a problem.’”
Byers said she can remember another teacher in one of her classes who asked her if she knew who her father was.
“I felt like I constantly had to prove myself because of my identity,” Byers said.
Byers said now, she’s starting to recognize that she’s intelligent, capable, competent and enough.
Kletzli said going to different clubs and organizations where she didn’t know anyone really helped her become more active in college.
“Going to different clubs snowballed, and I became president of a club and then I heard about becoming a CA, and through being a CA and doing different socials and trying to get my floor involved, I’ve become even more involved by supporting what they’re doing and going to their events,” Kletzli said.
Kletzli said being successful starts by getting your foot in the door, and going from there.
Riddell said one of her setbacks after she had been at SRU for a while, was the fact that people tried to pigeon hole her. She said when she first got here, she was brought on to do payroll, but was offered a clerical position. She said no one would see her in any other position.
She said once the payroll manager position opened up, she applied.
“I was totally qualified for the job,” Riddel said. “I had the education required, I knew the ERP systems that the university was using, but I didn’t even get an interview because they hired a guy with less experience, but I guess that was extremely important to the administration.”
Coming off of what Ridell said, Tsuquiashi-Daddesio said for women, when something doesn’t go your way, don’t get angry, get even.
“Getting even doesn’t mean doing the same thing they did to you,” Tsuquiashi-Daddesio said. “Get even in the sense that you get to the level where you want to be. Make it even.”
Tsuquiashi-Daddesio also urged women to know their value, and to not be discouraged or scared to speak up.
Payne said she faced one of her major setbacks when she graduated from graduate school at The Ohio State University. She moved to New York to start her dancing career, but was having a hard time finding a place to live. She said she got into a situation where she was able to live with a white Jewish woman on 12th street, a prime street in New York.
“It was a situation where for room and board, I was also being a domestic worker in the home,” Payne said. “It seemed like a really good deal at the time because I was in New York and I was doing my thing, but the situation turned into a ‘Driving Miss. Daisy’ situation. This is what my grandmother used to do when she lived in Connecticut; she worked in homes.”
Payne said instead of being angry, she said she was going to learn as much as she could about her situation, which allowed her to learn a lot about herself and what was important, such as being able to provide for herself.
Payne said after that, everything changed and she bought a house when she could buy a house.
“As a female, one of the first things people said to me is, ‘why are you going to buy a house if you don’t have a husband?’” Payne said. “Even people in my own family said that. I said because I’m Ursula Payne.”