Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Women’s History Month celebrates women leaders at FAU

FAU celebrates Women’s History Month with the many student organizations that women run themselves, including the F-word: FAU Feminists, the National Council of Negro Women, and the Women’s Empowerment Club.

Like the women leaders that run organizations around campus now, many FAU female alumni from over decades ago have graduated and are now distinguished women across the country.

Three women who graduated from FAU with honors — Janet Moreland, Walteria Tucker, and Judith Ortiz Cofer — were honored during the latest FAU National Alumni Association Hall of Fame and Distinguished Alumni Ceremony.

Moreland graduated from the Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing in 1998. She now has more than 30 years of experience with numerous awards for excellence in nursing, including Palm Beach County Public Health Nurse of Distinction, PBCHD Breastfeeding Peer Counselor, PBCHD Superior Accomplishment, and Local Women of Accomplishment Recipient in Medicine. Moreland works currently as the health center administrator for the Palm Beach County Health Department in Belle Glade and Pahokee.

Tucker is a three-time graduate of FAU who was named University Scholar and “Owl of the Year” for the MacArthur campus in Jupiter in 2004. She received a master’s degree in comparative literature in 2006 and became one of only 25 students in Florida to receive a McKnight Doctoral Fellowship. Tucker was called to sing to former FAU President Frank Brogan, author Art Linkletter, and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush. She has taught a number of language courses at FAU between 2004 and 2009. Now, Tucker teaches Spanish at Palm Beach State College.

Ortiz Cofer is a contemporary writer, known for her fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, like Call Me Maria, a young adult novel, winner of the Pura Belpre Award. She received numerous awards like the Pushcart Prize for nonfiction and the O. Henry Prize. Her work has appeared in The Georgia Review, Glamour, and other journals and magazines, as well as textbooks and anthologies. Ortiz Cofer graduated from FAU’s Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts & Letters in 1977 with a master’s in English.

Moreland, Tucker, and Ortiz Cofer are snapshots of women at FAU from the past — here is the new generation of women leaders at FAU. The women running these organizations have the potential to soon become the next generation of successful, female alumni of FAU.

Sarah Jenkins. Photo by Christine Capozziello
Sarah Jenkins. Photo by Christine Capozziello

Sarah Jenkins, F-word: FAU Feminists:

Sarah Jenkins founded the F-word: FAU Feminists. The graduate student studying women, gender and sexuality aims to be a true activist for social justice.

“I believe that no one is free until we are all free,” Jenkins said. “And social justice work should focus on advancing the quality of life for all.”

The F-word aims to provide a safe and inclusive space for individuals to consider the ways they could make FAU a more welcoming place for everyone.

“I spearheaded the creation of The F-Word: FAU Feminists along with some friends of mine when we realized that there were no feminist organizations on campus that were available to all FAU students, faculty, and staff,” Jenkins said.

Two events Jenkins started are “Speak Now! Break the Silence, Stop the Violence Domestic Violence Awareness Month Kickoff” and the workshop “Have the Sex You Want (And Not the Sex You Don’t).” The first event combined speakers, spoken word artists, music, and crafts to raise awareness and educate students on the phenomenon of intimate partner violence such as rape and harassment. At the other event, students were informed about establishing an honest relationship with their sex partners.

Jenkins likes to stay involved on campus. She is the vice president of the Women’s Studies Graduate Student Association (WSGSA), volunteers at the LGBTQA Resource Center, and teaches Introduction to Gender and Sexuality Studies at FAU as a master’s student in the program.

Off campus you can catch Jenkins volunteering with a girls’ magazine called New Moon which teaches girls about building independence, self-esteem, and creativity. She also volunteers with the Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership Seminar, which hosts seminars for high school sophomores to learn about accessing their full potential as leaders and volunteers.

“I am very passionate about working with youth and love having the opportunities to interact with young people both inside the classroom and outside in the ‘real world,’” Jenkins said.

Currently, Jenkins is advocating for the establishment of a Women’s Resource Center on the Boca campus before she graduates this May.

Ayana Armstrong. Photo by Christine Capozziello

Ayanna Armstrong, National Council of Negro Women:

Ayanna Armstrong thinks it’s important for society to recognize women as equal to men.

“Women have just as much to contribute to the world as men do and it is even more effective that we go about our actions differently,” said Armstrong, a senior political science major.

Armstrong tries to show what she has to offer through her involvement on campus. She is the president of the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW), the vice president of the Pre-Law Society, and editor-in-chief of the Undergraduate Law Journal. Armstrong takes part in these groups with the hopes of enhancing her legal skills to study corporate law in the future.

“I enjoy working towards educating my peers with the hopes of molding them into well-rounded, diverse individuals,” Armstrong said.

As a president of the NCNW for two and a half years, serving as marketing director and second vice president, Armstrong has been polished for her current title. At the NCNW meetings, she informs women on campus of their potential and the opportunities they have to explore in the workplace, with their spouse, and advancement of their education.

“I wanted to uplift women on campus and their future contribution to their families,” Armstrong said. “College is the perfect time explore one’s independence as well as develop productive habits that will benefit the families to be created in the future.”

Armstrong hopes to reach out to the young women on campus and make sure they are on the right path to adulthood.

Dani Feriozzi Guevara. Photo by Ryan Murphy

Dani Feriozzi Guevara, Lambda United:

Gender equality is something Dani Feriozzi Guevara thinks is not an alternative, but the way things should be.

“We are all equal in a way, and oppression and social rules have blinded our reality,” Guevara said.

Guevara is a junior psychology and anthropology major, and president of Lambda United — FAU’s gay, lesbian, bisexual, transsexual, transgender, queer, questioning, straight alliance.

As a Venezuelan female, Guevara grew up in a community where gender roles are very strict.

“It’s been this way for so long that it’s ingrained in people’s brain to act a certain way,” Guevara said. “Women’s rights for me are what should be the reality and people don’t even see as an alternative.”

Guevara joined Lambda United when she transferred to FAU in fall 2011 as an involved member who soon made her way up to serve as president of the organization.

“I love advocating for what I believe in,” Guevara said. “I feel really powerful in my everyday life, not because I’m a ‘leader,’ but just because I am a woman and I wouldn’t change that.”

Lambda United often pairs up with the F-word: FAU Feminists to hold events with them that advocate for women’s rights. Lambda United educates and raises awareness by having discussions not only about sexuality, but about sex and gender, and the oppression of different intersectionalities.

“Some people expect women to feel powerless or for them to just be passive, but neither gender nor social constructions have ever gotten in the way to make me feel powerless or to stop me from being active,” Guevara said.
[divider type=”thin”]
Women’s words:

Wednesday, March 20, 12:30 – 1:45 p.m., Boca Raton Campus, Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing, Room 201
Lecture: Jackson Kaguri (former CNN Hero) “Grandmothers: The Unsung Heroes of the Africa HIV/AIDS Pandemic.”

Thursday, March 21, 3 – 4:30 p.m., Boca Raton Campus, Student Union Building, Room 132
Lecture: Dr. Janelle Hobson (Associate Professor, University at Albany, State University of New York), “Clean Shiny Whiteness, Dirty Natural Blackness: A Feminist Worldview of How the Digital Meets the Environmental.”

Friday, March 22, 11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m., Boca Raton Campus, Performing Arts Building, Room 101
Public Lecture: Dr. Thomas Foster (Associate Professor and Chair, History Department, Depaul University) “Women’s Sexual Pleasure and Agency in Early America.” Free and open to the public.

Tuesday, March 26, 12 – 1:30 p.m., Boca Raton Campus, Student Union Building, Room 132
Film and Discussion: Dr. Karen Leader (Dept. of Visual Art and Art History) and Viridiana Lieberman (Documentary Film Maker): “Meet Our Filmmakers.”

Friday, March 29, 9 a.m. – 3:30 p.m., Boca Raton Campus, Live Oak Pavilion C & D
Symposium: Women’s Studies Graduate Student Association, 15th Annual Symposium: “Boundaries, Bodies and Dissidence: Negotiating New Spaces of Feminist Knowledge.”

For more information, contact: Donna Bryan @ 561-297-3865.

More to Discover