Reflections from Brooke LePage, Class of 2019
From Watkinson Library-Shibboleth Trinity on April 6th, 2020
Accept the things you cannot change and change the things you cannot accept. When you stand up for yourself, you stand up for all women.
These are the mindsets I had during my time at Trinity.
There were less sororities than fraternities; so I helped start a new one. Our Title IX policies were confusing; so I joined a taskforce to help make them accessible. There were a few campus alpha males trying to be commencement speaker the year the College was celebrating 50 years of coeducation; so I wrote a speech, got selected, and talked about women’s rights at the College’s largest gathering.
Rumor has it, some of the crowd grumbled that this was the topic I chose to speak about. “Women already have equal rights—why is this worth speaking about” some questioned. But that is exactly why I needed to speak about it—because some accept the unacceptable current state of women’s rights.
After my speech was chosen for the next round, I was invited to read it before the selection committee. I planned on surprising my parents, but I was so nervous to read it before the committee, I figured I would never be selected and decided to tell them so they could at least hear it. Arriving for my time slot to read obnoxiously early, like always, I noticed someone else waiting. Undoubtedly, another invitee with the slot before me. This invitee, however, was a male. “Are you nervous?” I asked—hoping to calm my own nerves which I could feel in my pounding chest and sweaty palms. “Nope, just excited” he responded nonchalantly.
However, the second I started reading my speech to the committee, my nerves disappeared entirely. Empowered, inspired, and supported by all of the women before and after me, I spoke with confidence. This speech wasn’t for me, it was for them. And I was so confident in what I was saying and that the audience needed to hear it, my nerves flittered away.
I think about this ‘scene’ more often than I should—the lack of confidence I had in myself to do something I was clearly capable of doing and the easy, natural confidence my male counterpart had. This was the reason my speech was needed in the first place.
But the thing is, it wasn’t just me making strides for women on campus. I was surrounded by women who sought opportunities to break glass ceilings in every aspect of campus life in hopes of making it easier for the women after us.
There were not many women in the economics major; so three of my roommates made sure to stick with it and one of them won multiple awards for excellence in economics our senior year. The Inter-Greek Council always had a male president; so women from multiple sororities ran to try to change that legacy. My senior year, we had female Presidents of the College and SGA, and Chair of the Board of Trustees.
Women have been, currently are, and will continue to, improve the College. Every small glass ceiling they break makes it easier for the women behind them. And none of us take that charge lightly.
I am honored to be a part of 50 For the Next 50. But the truth is, I know countless women who would seamlessly fit on that list. And that is what fuels me.