MIAMI GARDENS — For Barbara Edwards, executive assistant to Florida Memorial University’s president, it’s Johnnetta B. Cole, former president of Spelman College.
For NBC6 anchor/reporter Sharon Lawson, it’s her mother, Nerissa Lawson, who recalled her then-five-year-old-daughter watching the news and essentially speaking a career into existence with the words, “This is Sharon Lawson with the
6 o'clock news."
In almost everyone’s life, there are outstanding women who have inspired, nurtured, sacrificed and excelled. It is with these women in mind that the nation has celebrated Women’s History Month each March since 1980.
FMU is joining the celebration by hosting a series of events that honor this year’s theme, “Writing Women into History.” The university’s celebration culminates in its largest event on March 25, the third annual Women’s Expo.
Lawson moderated a panel discussion on the theme at FMU on Wednesday, March 17. Edwards served as one of the panelists.
“I feel blessed that I was given the opportunity to participate. We are not just lipstick and curves; we are movers and shakers of generations old and new,” Lawson said of women’s contributions to the country.
Recalling her own mother’s sacrifices for her family, Lawson said she would not be the woman she is today without her mother.
“My mother is a powerful, driven woman. She moved from Jamaica, a risk taker…to pursue something bigger and better,” she said.
Lawson said her mother moved to Canada, leaving behind a husband and two small sons, “to start a better life for us.”
Lawson was born in Toronto several years later; she and her family moved to Florida in the mid-1980s.
“Who would have dreamed that I would be able to become an anchor/reporter…because of the sacrifices that [my mother] made that allowed me to become the woman I am today,’’ said Lawson, a University of Central Florida graduate who also counts talk show legend Oprah Winfrey as an inspiration. “I owe that all to my mom. She’s my hero.”
Edwards said Cole’s stellar leadership at Spelman opened the door for other women of color to ascend to presidential posts at colleges and universities.
“Twenty years ago in the United Negro College Fund, there weren’t that many black women who were presidents of universities, but over the years that has changed dramatically,” said Edwards, who pointed out several examples of black female university presidents in Florida.
“Dr. Kibble-Reed at Bethune-Cookman University, Claudette Williams at Edward Waters and now we have Dr. Thompson as an interim president at Florida Memorial,” she said.
Alstene McKinney, co-chairperson of FMU’s Women’s Expo, said the theme gives the university a chance to recognize local women for their history-making accomplishments.
“We are pleased to have an opportunity to showcase remarkable women in the community who contribute their time and resources to make South Florida a more culturally enriched place to live,” she said of the event that will feature female vendors with a variety of products and services, networking opportunities for women and a health and wellness forum.
In addition to the expo, FMU hosted a Founder’s Day Convocation on March 18 that honored Willowstine Lawson, regional director for U.s. Sen. Bill Nelson.
A chapel service celebrating Women’s History Month will take place on Sunday, March 21 at 9:15 a.m. at the Susie C. Holley Religious Center on FMU’s campus.
Photo: Sharon Lawson
IF YOU GO
WHAT: Florida Memorial University’s third annual Women’s Expo.
WHEN: Thursday, March 25, 2010 from noon to 6 p.m.
WHERE: Florida Memorial University, A. Chester Robinson Athletic Center, 15800 NW 42 Ave., Miami Gardens.
COST: Free and open to the public.
CONTACT: Dr. Gwendolyn Robinson, 305-623-4292 or 305-623-1400.