2018 Alumnae Essay Winner
Each year since 1919 the alumnae of the Academy of the Sacred Heart have awarded a senior who writes the best essay on a given topic. At Alumnae Induction, the Alumnae Association honors the winning senior who presents the essay.
As we celebrate our bicentennial year, we reflect on the history of the Rosary--the strides we've made as a an institution and the accomplishments our alumnae have achieved over the centuries. Now, fast forward another 200 years and tell us about the Rosary and its alums in 2218.
I recently read an article in the Washington Post which stated that in 217 years, we will achieve total gender equality around the world, a feat which may not occur in time for the Class of 2218’s graduation, but it will for their daughters’ graduation. Even so, in 200 years gender parity will be within reach and will not be just a dream for their great great grandchildren, as it is for me and my classmates and all Sacred Heart graduates up until now.
I cannot say exactly what the Class of 2218 will look like because in all honesty they will probably look exactly like us: bright smiles and big eyes that never stop looking towards the future. They will probably still enjoy a game of cache-cache every now and then and will still draw on their insurmountable determination to claim Rally victories. And if they are anything like the Class of 2018, they will also probably be perpetually wondering “when oh when will our next goûter be?” But these are things that I can only assume. What I can say will have changed is not the class itself but the social environment in which they will find themselves: a society in which gender will no longer be a limitation.
But this accomplishment is not solely the Class of 2218’s, rather it is ours and the thousands of Sacred Heart graduates who have come before us. When talking about the Class of 2218, the fact is I cannot do so without talking about the Class of 1818 or 2018 or all of the women in between who contributed to our eventual equality. I know that in 200 years the world will be different just as it was different 200 years ago when Sacred Heart was first founded. 200 years ago there were almost no women in the skilled workforce and just 100 years ago women had not yet obtained the right to vote. However, when we start to think we have nearly achieved gender parity we realize the facts: although women make up 66% of the world’s labor force they only make 10% of the world’s total income. It is statistics like these that reveal how much we have yet to accomplish.
When I was a kid I used to toss pennies into wishing wells not knowing what or who to save but knowing that we live in a world that needs saving. I thought that with my pennies I could do just that. It took me years to figure out what was wrong with this design: the price of change is one much greater than that of a penny.
This year to celebrate Sacred Heart’s Bicentennial, the school chose the slogan, “Our Girls Change the World.” It wasn’t until recently that I fully understood that message. Though we see ourselves as ordinary students, the reality is that change is not necessarily the achievements that make headlines in newspapers or a historic court case. More often than not, change is the gradual yet frequently undetected movement within individuals as they strive to design a reality for themselves and for their families that reflects their values. At Sacred Heart, we don’t carry change in our backpacks, and we no longer toss it into wishing wells like when we were kids. At Sacred Heart, we keep change in our hearts, and our voices and determination are what bring it to fulfillment. And every time a Sacred Heart student graduates, she takes the female empowerment centralized education she has received and applies it to her life. The thing about a Sacred Heart education is we are encouraged to strive for greatness: yes as a community but more importantly as individuals. And it is such greatness that will propel the change that will allow for the Class of 2218 to exist in a world of true equality.
When we walk down the aisle in June, we will be committing to our futures and investing in the futures of the Class of 2218, so that when they walk down the aisle in 200 years, they will be graduating into a world where the term “glass ceiling” is almost non-existent. They will graduate not because it is a requirement or because of their parents but because they owe it to themselves and to us: the generations of women and Sacred Heart graduates who have chipped away at the glass ceiling one crack at a time. They may not know our names but they will be able to feel our millions of hands on their backs pushing them towards a reality that we could only dream of. They will graduate as women: a word that will not simply be derived from the root “men,” but one that will stand on its own in its unquestionable beauty.