FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
FRIDAY, APRIL 3, 2009
Contact: Ilene Greenfield
Director of Media Relations
201-291-1111, ext. 5122
Berkeley College, local leaders mark
Women’s History Month with messages of empowerment
WOODLAND PARK — “You can do it all.”
Those were the words offered to female students by Passaic County Freeholder Director Tahesha Way and number of other professional women at a leadership panel hosted by Berkeley College in honor of Women’s History Month.
Ms. Way and Assemblywomen Nellie Pou (D-35th), Joan Voss (D-38th) and Elease Evans (D-35th) discussed their legislative passions and the unique challenges women face as mothers, wives and professionals before an audience of nearly 150 Berkeley College students and faculty, politicians and community leaders.
“These professionals are fantastic role models, not just for our young women, but for all the students at Berkeley College,” said Berkeley College Senior Vice President of External Affairs Teri Duda, event moderator. “The many successes of our panelists prove that there is no limit to what strong, educated women can do for their communities and the world.”
Ms. Duda herself was named one of New Jersey’s Best 50 Women in Business by NJBIZ, a New Jersey business news publication, and also has been honored as Garden State Woman of the Year by the Garden State Woman Education Foundation.
“We need to take more control in government,” Assemblywoman Voss told the women in the audience, noting that only 36 of the 120 members of the New Jersey Legislature are female. “Thirty-six is still not enough.”
She added that it is disheartening that the United States has never elected a woman president, while other countries where women have been oppressed for years have already done so. The panelists said it was encouraging, though, when 14 new female senators and assemblywomen entered the New Jersey Legislature in 2008.
“It’s important that as women we have our say,” said Assemblywoman Pou, the first woman and first Hispanic to represent the 35th District. “We represent needs that are important to us — what is important to our children, our grandchildren.”
The women cited their passions for caregiver support, autism awareness and domestic violence aid, among other topics.
Assemblywoman Evans spoke about her support for A-3160, a bill that would provide a safe haven from prosecution for minors who summon medical assistance for intoxicated friends. Assemblywoman Pou is seeking support to deter high school dropouts by raising the legal age at which teens are allowed to leave school from 16 to 18.
“We have the chance to touch a lot of lives,” said Assemblywoman Evans, a former social worker.
Maria Benitez, a Berkeley College student who is active in campus government, questioned the panel about the challenges they have faced as women.
Ms. Way, an attorney, recalled being mistaken for a paralegal in court; Assemblywoman Voss said she was told as a college student, “We don’t give this scholarship to girls.”
“You just have to be tenacious,” said Assemblywoman Voss. “You just have to put your head down and say ‘I’m going to do this.’ Women have a very hard road to hoe.”
Assemblywoman Voss, a former teacher and Fort Lee councilwoman, added that her message was for all women, not only college students.
“I encourage women to never say, ‘I’m too old to run for government,’ or ‘I’m too old to go back to school,’ ” said the assemblywoman, who began working on her doctorate when she was nearly 50 years old. “It’s never too late to do anything you want to do.”
Photo Caption (L to R): Passaic County Freeholder Director Tahesha Way; NJ Assemblywoman Joan Voss (D-38th); Berkeley College Senior Vice President of External Affairs Teri Duda; NJ Assemblywoman Nellie Pou (D-35th); and Berkeley College Chairman of the Board Kevin L. Luing at a Women’s Leadership Panel hosted by Berkeley College in honor of Women’s History Month. NJ Assemblywoman Elease Evans (D-35th) (not pictured) also participated in the event.
Photo Caption: NJ Assemblywoman Nellie Pou (D-35th) meets Berkeley College students after a Women’s Leadership Panel hosted by the College in honor of Women’s History Month.
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