By Katrice L. Mines, Editor
I never tire of hearing about what happens behind the scenes in the lives of women who exemplify a spirit of excellence as I’m so often able to glean something from their stories, their ideologies and the habits they’ve built around success. Since I was a girl and began studying the women who groomed me — my mother, grandmother and women in my church — I’ve been trying to embody the qualities and mindsets of this sturdy collective. As the only girl in my family, I was often in tow as my mother attended women’s teas, seminars, and classes, and was even treated to days at work with her when I was out of school. I remember feeling as if I was gaining a sort of jumpstart on my own womanhood. I didn’t always prefer to be called into the kitchen while all of my brothers and male cousins rambled about through the neighborhood on stifling Midwest summer days. But, I now am in complete agreement with what my mom and grandmother were trying to instill in those moments.
They knew … everyone knew I wanted to go to college and intended to be a woman of the world. It was all I talked about, even in middle school. The women around me, though, also knew that I needed a foundation first. Both my mother and grandmother kept gardens; we canned vegetables. In the warm months, though we had an electric drier, we hung clothes on the line to dry in the breeze. My cousin Denise and I dusted every piece of glass on my grandparent’s coffee tables every Saturday and answered the phone like their administrators at 10 and 12 years old: “Matthews residence.” It’s funny to think back on how I became who I am, in manner and personality today, because my family always says they saw the future me even back then. I say, I am a culmination of the effort and attention, and all of the substance sown into me by the women in my village.
As I’ve grown professionally, I have expanded that village to include the tutelage of women that I’ve never met and who would not even know me by name, but whose lives have inspired me to keep reaching … to give back and to be my most authentic self; women like those that we’ve featured in this issue celebrating Women’s History Month.
When I’m asked who my mentors are, my list is longer than expected because it includes women whose stories and careers I’ve followed as well as those who directly touched my life. And that’s what the Superwomen package of stories is about each year — access, example and inspiration. AT