As female enrollment in undergraduate and graduate programs continues to rise, women have become the majority in many academic programs. As more women find their place in graduate programs, we look to others for inspiration as we dedicate our studies, careers and futures to specific disciplines. Many of us look to other women as symbols of strength that empower us through difficult trials and stressful semesters. Recognizing the success of diverse women with different interests and career accomplishments can enable women from every discipline to stay committed to their personal ambitions. The following women provide a source of encouragement to all graduate students, especially women looking for female symbols of reassurance, inspiration and ultimate empowerment.
As the Senior Vice President of Retail at one of the world’s most innovative tech companies, Ahrendts is one of the leading female voices in the world of technology. She is credited for her work in creating a uniform experience for all Apple customers with her goals of educating, entertaining, inspiring and enriching communities. Prior to joining Apple’s executive team, Ahrendts worked for other major companies, including Donna Karan International, Liz Claiborne, Inc., and Burberry.
Strength: Ahrendts serves a major role in a global male-dominated field, empowering women to defy career and academic stereotypes across all fields.
Words of Wisdom: “When you have trust and you get that trust in place throughout your company, people are empowered – people are free.”
After beginning her career in technology, Gates devoted her career to more than computer innovations. With her husband, she co-chairs the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the foundation’s $42.9 billion endowment. She has become a global advocate working on many efforts, including the expansion of contraception availability and the enhancement of global healthcare, and focused heavily on raising her children to participate in humanitarian efforts.
Strength: Gates has devoted her career to generously serving others, empowering women to participate in philanthropic service.
Words of Wisdom: “When you invest in women, you invest in the people who invest in everybody else.”
Before becoming the First Lady of the United States, Obama began her career as a lawyer before devoting her career to community service. As a law student, she volunteered her time to organizations that provided legal representation to local residents who were unable to afford legal advice. She has found a special interest in identifying young people that have the potential to become significant community leaders and continues to encourage community service across the country.
Strength: Obama has become an international ambassador for community service, empowering women to become active in their communities and help solve local issues.
Words of Wisdom: "Success isn't about how much money you make. It's about the difference you make in people's lives."
Recognized as one of the most powerful businesswomen in Asia, Kochhar is the first Indian woman to receive the Woodrow Wilson Award for Global Citizenship. She is not only philanthropic, but also extremely successful as a businesswoman. She has been noted as one of the highest paid bank CEO’s in India and is highly respected for her incredible decisiveness.
Strength: Kochhar serves as an inspiration for those who value dedication, empowering women to work hard to advance in their educations and careers.
Words of Wisdom: “I urge all women to believe in themselves and that they are capable of running a successful professional life, as well as successful family life.”
Some may question the abilities of Biney, a teenage speed skater on the U.S. Olympic Team. Originally born in Ghana, Biney began skating as a child after moving to the United States with her father. She has made history as the first African-American woman to make the U.S. Olympic speed skating or short track team. In addition to her athletic ambitions, Biney also aspires to become a chemical engineer.
Strength: By dedicating her time to more than her athletic goals, Biney encourages women to pursue multiple goals beyond their current environment.
Words of Wisdom: “I always just try to have a happy face and give everyone joy.”
Georgia "Gandy" Osburn
Gandy is a first-year Master of Public Service and Administration student in the Bush School of Government and Public Service