In the spirit of International Women’s Day and as part of the our IWD 2020 Initiative, the "Focus on Her" blog series will share stories and images of women around the world whose access to education has helped shaped their lives. We'll be featuring women from Toronto, Baltimore, Dubai, Jordan and Palestine.
International Women’s Day is a global celebration of the achievements of women. It is also a call to action to accelerate women's equality. The more we understand how education impacts women's ability to succeed in their goals and ambitions, the more equipped we are to advocate for education equality.
Baltimore, Maryland, USA. (Part 1)
At the St. Ignatius Catholic Church of Baltimore, MD, a devoted group of parishioners have come together in response to the injustices faced by immigrant, refugee and asylee families and individuals in their own community and around the world. The church’s Immigration Subcommittee has hosted Sitti on several occasions to share and discuss the stories of our community in Jerash Camp with their congregation. We thought that it would be fun to flip the script and ask them to participate in our stories of women’s education for International Women’s Day 2020. Luckily, they said yes!
Kate Flores is a dedicated member of the Immigration Subcommittee at St. Ignatius Church. She is also a Regulatory Operations Specialist for the Institutional Review Board (IRB) at the University of Maryland.
Education matters to me because...
..."it helps empower people to be their best selves."
I believe in Education because...
..."it opens doors."
What does education mean to you?
"Education provides people the mental tools that can help them for the rest of their lives. I know that there are countless problems in the world for which education alone isn't the solution. I also know that sometimes there are life lessons that formal education cannot impart. Nonetheless, education is essential for people to learn how to communicate effectively, how to name and discuss concrete and abstract concepts, how to think critically, and so much more. Plus, the wonderful thing is that as long as one's mental faculties are still intact, no one can take away the knowledge obtained from education!"
Can you talk about a moment when access to education played a major role in your life?
"I grew up in a mostly upper-middle-class city...of a generally wealthy state in the U.S. in which most public schools provide excellent education. A defining moment for me was not about my own access per se, but my awareness of the nature of access itself. I learned that even within the county where I resided, the quality of education that one would receive still could vary depending on (1) the public school district tied to where you live and (2) whether or not your parents were wealthy enough to send you to a private school that was even more rigorous than the public schools. This shattering of my naivete was both a necessary pill to swallow and a heartbreaking lesson to learn. I didn't think it was fair that circumstances into which you are born could affect even your education, which I thought was supposed to be "the" social equalizer! As an adult, I know that it IS unfair."
Was there a female teacher/educator in your life who is memorable to you? How did they help you as a student?
“The best natural sciences classroom instructor I had was my high school AP Chemistry teacher; while I was fascinated with the natural sciences long before I was her student, the way she taught chemistry helped me confirm my appreciation of the natural sciences, and that influenced what I chose to study in college, and ultimately, my career.
How does your education influence your life today?
“My undergraduate and graduate education has been directly influential in my full-time career, for which I am immensely grateful--I am thankful for each day in which I could earn a living to support myself."
Thank you, Kate!
(Photo credit for this post: Jacqueline M. Sofia for Sitti)
------Learn more about how you can be an advocate for education equality with Sitti at: https://sittisoap.com/pages/international-womens-day-2020