National Women’s History Month: The Maria mission and heritage is all around us

In honor of National Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day, I sat down at my desk to write my first blog for Maria College. Being a former history major undergrad, I naturally thought I’d first make a historical connection to Catherine McAuley, the founder of the Sisters of Mercy, or to Maria’s beginning in 1958 as an institution solely for the community of sisters. I thought maybe I’d delve into the Maria College Mission to provide career-relevant, opportunity education to all who may benefit along with holistic support services and more to foster graduates who respect the dignity of every human person.

But what struck me once I started to write, is that I see Catherine’s legacy and the Maria Mission physically all around me.  

Behind me, two women are engaged in a deep conversation about faith and its diversity. I see women’s history there. I see the intellectual tradition of Maria College and the inquisitive nature of its students, and most simply, a beautiful moment between two people where connections are being made, and understanding created. Women have historically been left behind in so many places and conversations, but throughout history, religion has given women a place to be heard and this agency clearly continues today.

To my side, a woman tirelessly works for answers for a student, never hesitating to go above and beyond what is required of her job. This is the Maria mission in action.

From down the hall, I hear the jubilant footsteps of a woman on her way to bring hope to a struggling student. Maria College is always moving; I love that about us. We never stop moving forward and toward students, bringing them what they need and lifting them up for their next steps.

On my desk, sits my phone chiming away and alerting me of multiple text messages. These messages are both work related and personal texts from various people. The red notification alert on the text icon is an indication of the army of women who are helping me through the problems of the day. From my peers in the disability world, to the women who have been uplifting me since grade school, I see a beautiful history of my own life that I am building, surrounded by great women.

I am new to Maria College as this is my first full semester here. My own history is filled with incredible women: the librarian who first showed me the power of education; the teacher who took me to Europe; my mother who has spent countless hours and car rides conversing with me and providing advice; and all the women who showed me that kindness, understanding, and strength are the hallmarks of my calling in the disability world. I feel so honored to be part of their history and to have them be the cultural giants of mine.

I see the legacy of Catherine’s great work here and all around me, it is within the women who support and uplift me; it is in the powerful work of the women all around this campus. My journey with Maria has just begun, but I know that this is where I am supposed to be.


Author: Cait York, Director of the Office of Accessibility Services


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