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Happy International Women’s Day!

I spent my morning having the honor of visiting my high school and Betsy Hickman, who was my English teacher in both middle school and high schools. Betsy nominated me for the Lifetime Achievement Award in the Unionville-Chadds Ford School District in Chester County, PA, which I won in 2018. I missed the Awards Ceremony and Induction into The Wall Of Honor while I was speaking near Penn State, as the Keynote Speaker kicking off the Centre County Domestic Violence Awareness Month events in the Centre County Courthouse, where former Penn State Football Coach Jerry Sandusky was convicted of 45 felony counts of child sexual abuse. I’d been asked to serve as Keynote Speaker in the Centre County Courthouse, in part, because my image replaced Sandusky’s in the Inspiration Mural following his convictions in 2012 in honor of my activism on behalf of survivors of sexual and domestic violence and my history as a Penn State faculty member, and both Undergraduate and Graduate School alumna. Today was the first time that I had the opportunity while driving through my hometown between meetings to visit with Betsy and see my place in the Wall of Honor as the only poet and the only activist in the history of the Unionville-Chadds Ford School District to win this award.

I cried, and then laughed with Betsy for crying, because I could never have imagined in high school that my life would unfold in a way that would allow me to use poetry and activism on behalf of survivors of both domestic and sexual violence, or that I would help women, men and children heal and reclaim their lives in the aftermath of such violence. Betsy encouraged my writing throughout my time in both middle and high school in the Unionville – Chadds Ford School District, and then across my entire career. She is one of the women who believed in me and her presence, along with the many women who believed in and supported me, has made a difference across my life.

Today, I hope that you’re celebrating the women in your life who have believed in you until you could believe in yourself. On International Women’s Day, here’s to the women who hold the world every day, and change it with the fullness of their presence. 

All peace to you. Dora

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