When I read a period novel where women were raised either as hothouse plants or slaving in workhouses, I am aghast to think of the limitations placed on them. Despite the opportunities available today, many young women feel they will just marry and all will be roses and they fail to train themselves for life.
In my own life, I went to college but stopped a semester short of graduation, as did my daughter-in-law, Shayne. We had a conversation where both of us shook our heads at how cavalier we were not preparing ourselves to support a family "just in case.”
Shayne was better off than me. She ran a successful gymnastics studio until the family left for our son, Mike’s, residency in Michigan. She was on the Brigham Young University gymnastics team and from there she segued into teaching gymnastics, finding it a good way to help their young family get through Mike’s years of medical school.
By the time I started thinking about returning just for my own satisfaction, all the credits had expired. Such irresponsible foolishness!
Last month, Mike and Shayne’s daughter, Andie, graduated from BYU along with her husband, Brady Wells. She follows in the footsteps of her sister, Taryn, who graduated the year before after serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Thailand. Two down and 24 grandchildren left to go.
I hope the rest are as persistent.
Last month, I attended an inagural luncheon at Utah Valley University sponsored by Paige Holland. At her luncheon in 2012, the purpose was to develop strategies and support for women to attain a higher education. This, the third luncheon, was filled to capacity with those showing concern and the need for this kind of focus. Many of those women will offer needed community support and funds.
Paige and her husband, UVU President Matthew Holland, have been influential in promoting the need for secondary education at UVU as well as statewide. Through their strong advocacy they have championed the Women’s Success Center, Turning Point, the Wee Care Center and many others offering affordable day care and help for women to attend classes.
UVU's Susan Madsen has been conducting research to find out why Utah has one of the lowest percentage of postsecondary female students in the United States, according to Utah Women in Education Project and National Center for Educational Statistics from 2008.
Madsen's two-year, statewide study helped create the Utah Women and Education Initiative to "enable Utah women to contribute in their families, communities and the state through higher education," according to information on UVU's website.
While college education is a goal worth reaching for, one can be trained in other ways as well. In fact, Taryn makes almost as much teaching harp lessons and tutoring as she does teaching school. Andie, who played on the tennis team at BYU, teaches tennis lessons year-round. Musical talent and sports involvement, as well as bringing joy to our lives, can also contribute skills that carry over to the workplace.
Besides the marketability of education and skills, improving ourselves is always satisfying. I remember a quote by Pulitzer Prize winner Phyllis McGinley that stuck in my mind for many years, “Housewives more than any other race deserve well-furnished minds. They have to live in them such a lot of the time. We who belong to that profession hold the fate of the world in our hands. It is our influence that will determine the culture of coming generations.”
While marriage is a worthy goal, preparing for whatever the future brings should be given some serious thought and education should be part of it.
The idea of Cinderella and Prince Charming and happily ever after thrives with knowledge — not just a ball and a glass slipper.