Infinite cheers for the ladies

Veronica Wernicke, Assistant Opinion Editor

Editor’s Note: Veronica Wernicke is a freshman at UNCW majoring in Communication Studies and is the Assistant Opinion Editor for The Seahawk. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. Veronica Wernicke may be found on Twitter @itsveronica98. All suggestions and inquiries may be sent via email to [email protected].

Happy March or as I prefer to say Happy Women’s History month. Women have always played a crucial role in our history — despite what some may think. It is fair enough to say we deserve a month celebrating women at the least.

Big names like Susan B. Anthony, Rosa Parks, Malala, and Michelle Obama come to my mind when I think of inspirational women in our history. Celebrities like Dianna Agron, Gal Gadot, Meryl Streep and Evan Rachel Wood also come to mind.

Susan B. Anthony is one of the first women who helped get women where we are today. We start learning about her early on in our history classes, so hopefully from an early age we get to see and learn about some kick-ass ladies. Like Anthony, Rosa Parks is an early womanly inspirational figure who we learn about in history class. Parks not only gave African Americans inspiration, but women as well when she refused to give up her seat on a bus during a time of intense segregation.

Malala Yousafzai is a more recent inspiration when at only 11 years old she wrote about life in Pakistan and served as a voice for women’s education. Then in 2012 when she survived a gunshot to the head and continued her activism, Malala became part of my inspirational list. Just think about how brave and strong of a lady she is. Former First Lady Michelle Obama also shot up my list of inspirational women during and after her time in the White House.

She was constantly advocating for women through programs like Let Girls Learn and hosting the United State of Women summit in 2016. Even now she still continues to empower her fellow ladies like on International Women’s Day when she surprised a school in D.C. and joined in a roundtable discussion with “many fierce and promising girls,” according to a post the former First Lady shared on her Instagram.

Celebrities like Agron, Gadot, Streep and Wood are also on my list because they are constantly changing the game. I have followed Agron’s life since her time on “Glee” and for some reason, I have always looked up to her. One of my favorite quotes of her’s is “[w]hat a world we live in. I want to be incredibly close to the heart of it all. To live honestly, truthfully and to be completely present is the ultimate enterprise.” I try to model my life after this quote because its message is simple but so powerful.

Gadot is “Wonder Woman” on and off the screen. She is constantly advocating for not only women’s rights, but everyone’s rights and even though she is a beautiful woman, she always posts pictures without makeup and reminds girls and women they are beautiful just how they are. In addition to being crowned Miss Israel, she was also a combat instructor in the Israel Defense Forces. That is totally awesome and Gadot is not afraid to show either side.

I have always referred to Streep as a queen because of her amazing work on screen, but that definitely extends off-screen as well. Her speech at last year’s Oscars was incredible and her dedication to women during the #MeToo movement was also applaudable. Like other women on this list, she is also constantly championing women and all that we can do.

Wood is another actress who popped onto my radar a few years ago and then more recently with her work in HBO’s “Westworld” where she portrayed a kick-ass female lead. Offscreen Wood continued that persona. At red carpets or other glitzy events, you will not always find Wood all glammed up in a dress and heels, but instead a pantsuit and heals. She has also recently begun speaking out about sexual assault — which she has experienced — even in front of Congress. Wood is trying to push for a Sexual Assault Survivors’ Bill of Right so she is another strong force in the #MeToo movement. I champion the efforts Wood is taking and she is changing the way we define women and what they should act and dress like.

The great thing about Women’s History Month is that these women do not have to famous or celebrities.

They can be your mom, sister, aunt, neighbor, best friend, teacher, the list goes on. I can just as easily turn to the women in my life and find many who inspire me. My second-grade teacher Mrs. Cottrell, family friend Jeanine, best friend Lydia, former counselor Amanda, and of course my mom — again only naming a few because all the ladies in my life are stellar. Although, my mom is the biggest inspiration in my life.

Mrs. Cottrell has always been one of my favorite teachers and she has always inspired me. Her cheery nature, passion for teaching and actual concern for her students and their lives — even after they left her classroom. My family’s friend Jeanine, who I have really gotten to know in recent years, has shown and told me that I can do anything if I just put my mind to it — like running an amazing non-profit organization and being nominated for a CNN Hero Award. Way to go Jeanine.

My best friend Lydia who I have known practically my whole life inspires me every day. She constantly encourages me and shows me the right way. My former Camp Kesem counselor Amanda also inspires me every day. If I can show and put the same amount of enthusiasm and spirit she does in all that I do, I know I am living life the fullest.

Finally, my mom is by far the biggest inspiration in my life. It can seem like a cliché and obvious choice to some, but for me it goes past that. Not only was my mom always there giving me love, support, and a great childhood, she was also fighting breast cancer. Through her ten-year-long battle with cancer my mom showed me what it meant to be strong, brave, courageous and so many other things I could not fit into this article.

Even if she had a hard day of treatment or just was not feeling well she would still put in the effort to listen and encourage me. She told me every day how proud she was of me and she knew that I could do anything I put my mind to. Above all she was the greatest mom, woman and person in the world to me. My mom will always be at the top of my inspirational list.

Women’s History Month is great time to give some extra appreciation to the women in history who have inspired you. It is also a great time to take a moment and show some extra love and appreciation to the women in your own life who have inspired you. I am sure it would make their day to know that they inspire you. Whether it be in a message, phone call, face to face or even something as small as a hug.

Thank you to every single lady in my life who has ever inspired me. Without you I would not be half the woman I am today.

Who are the women in our world and your life that inspire you?