By Jasmine Nichole Thomas
Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU) hosted the second annual “Leading Ladies” panel discussion on March 1 in the Charles Winter Wood Theatre.
The event kicked off FAMU’s celebration of Women’s History Month which includes the “Tell it on Tuesday” Series. President Elmira Mangum, Ph.D. Provost Marcella David, Trustee Nicole Washington and Dean Angela Epps were panelists, while Anquinette Taylor, Miss FAMU, moderated the discussion.
A wide range of topics were discussed among the University’s leaders. They responded to thought-provoking and more humorous questions. Panelists shared some of their personal experiences with the audience. The talked about how their families and others had plans for them and their careers. President Mangum’s family thought of her as a teacher. Many people in her family were in education.
“I prepared to be a teacher, a science teacher. I envisioned myself as a teacher, became a teacher. I believe my image of myself manifested into what my parents expected of me,” Mangum said.
Provost Marcella David was often told what profession she should go into as a child.
“So my initials are MD. When I was growing up, everyone said, ‘You should be a doctor, MD,’ she joked, “but I decided pretty early on that I really didn’t want to be a doctor. I didn’t want to be responsible for like, holding people’s lives in my hands,” David said.
David expressed that she decided to become a lawyer in junior high school after taking a class in American Law from a social studies teacher who was a lawyer himself.
“I was able to get into that class and he arranged for a mock trial competition between our junior high school and another junior high school … I was lead counsel and we won. So I said I should be a lawyer,” she declared.
Kawanza Smith, a second-year graphic design student from Tallahassee Fla., went to the event expecting the panelists to speak only about women’s contributions in America but was pleasantly surprised with what she experienced.
“I came here thinking they’d be talking about women like Susan B. Anthony and older feminists. I didn’t know they would be talking about their lives,” she said.
Smith admitted that she doesn’t normally enjoy panel discussions, but felt differently about this one.
“I’m so glad I came. I kind of feel closer to some of the leaders on campus now. It made me feel like I could be a leader and it showed a different side of them than I’m used to. They enjoy having fun like everyday women,” Smith said.
One of the questions Taylor asked the panelists was “Would you rather get ‘in formation’ like Beyoncé or be ‘every woman’ like Whitney?”
Trustee Nicole Washington responded with a line from Beyonce’s newest single “Formation.”
“I got hot sauce in my bag,” she said, causing the audience to giggle.
The University’s “Tell it on Tuesday” Series features events every Tuesday in March to recognize and celebrate the contributions and accomplishments of outstanding women.