by Heather Shea Gasser
I can directly point to the presence of strong women role models during my formative years as contributing factors to my current feminist identity. If you’re like me, the presence of elder women—be they our mothers, grandmothers, aunts, or godmothers—had a direct impact in shaping who we are to become. While the younger generations watch, they deal with loss, transition, triumph, and sadness. We observe and we learn… and maybe we become a little bit like them in the process.
I’m reflecting on the presence of strong women because my 94-year old grandmother recently passed away. Born just months before women got the right to vote in 1920, she was one of eight children (two girls, six boys) who grew up in southern Colorado near Lamar. My grandmother had two children, my Father and nine years later, my Aunt Timi. She had four grandchildren, of which I am the oldest and the only girl.
Continue reading In Praise of Strong Women: A Tribute to Mabel
by Jennifer R. Keup
I have just finished reading your recently-published autobiography, The Road from Serres: A Feminist Odyssey and two sentiments come to mind: “wow” and “thank you.”
My first sentiment—“wow”—is nothing new with respect to my reaction to you. I still remember being a new graduate student in the Higher Education and Organizational Change division of the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies at UCLA many years back. I felt like I had fooled the admissions committee into admitting me and kept awaiting the tap upon my shoulder from a faculty member who would say, “we are so sorry, we meant for that admissions letter to go to Jennifer Kemp not Jennifer Keup; please gather your things and leave.” Add to that the fact that the larger-than-life Alexander “Sandy” Astin was my assigned advisor (truly one of the greatest gifts I have ever had in my academic and professional career) and that I was one of the few members of my cohort not already convinced that I had a future in the professoriate, and I had an absolutely towering case of imposter syndrome.
As with nearly all of the advisees of one of The Astins and as a graduate student researcher at the Higher Education Research Institute, I truly felt as if I had been academically “adopted” by the both of you even though Sandy was my advisor (talk about winning the graduate student lottery!). And when I met you, I was in absolute awe. In those days when I was a budding feminist, you truly offered a model unlike almost any other I had experienced and, in many ways, were a picture of balance in what I thought should have been contradictions. Continue reading Letter to my Feminist Hero