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Women who inspire women
women's history

By Lizzy Donker, BCN intern.

The United States has celebrated Women’s History month in March since 1987, and during this time, Americans celebrate the vital role women have played in shaping American history and the country as it is today.

With that in mind, the Bryan County News asked four local leaders which woman from history inspires them and why.

Five-term Pembroke Mayor Judy Cook, the city’s first female mayor and its longest serving mayor, said she is inspired by former U.S. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, who served in the role from 1933 to 1945. Cook said Roosevelt was an active political and social figure who continues to inspire many, and Cook said she admired the former First Lady because of her compassion, large personality, and “all of the barriers she had to overcome, especially those of women in her era”, as many tended to not take Roosevelt and her intelligence seriously.

Bryan County Board of Education Chairwoman Amy Murphy said for her the most inspirational woman in history is Mother Teresa, the Roman Catholic nun and missionary who is known for her dedication to charity and working with the less fortunate in India.

Murphy, a clinical social worker by profession, said Mother Teresa is a “symbol of love and compassion” and a “dedicated humanitarian” who inspires her to be a better person.

Murphy said she has Mother Teresa’s words on her desk at work as a daily reminder to “Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God’s kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile” 

Johnnie Quiller, president of the Bryan County NAACP, said Oprah Winfrey is the woman who most inspires her. Quiller said that Winfrey reminds her of her own upbringing and challenges she had to overcome.

Quiller said Winfrey serves as “an inspiration to those Black girls who have had to overcome challenges,” and Quiller named each of her bass guitars after her.

Richmond Hill Middle School Principal Dr. Elizabeth Bennett said a woman who has always been inspirational to her is Michelle Obama, who served as First Lady from 2009 to 2017.

Bennett said Obama is “an advocate and champion for education and health and wellness,” which Bennett said are two passions of hers.

Obama has demonstrated that women can be wonderful mothers, wives, and have successful careers, and proves that “we women can be all things,” Bennett said.

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