Women’s History Month celebrations to start this March

March is known for new beginnings as it is the month the seasons’s change, but it is also Women’s history month. Women’s history month is an annual celebration of women and their contributions to America. As told by the official Women’s history month website, the original dedication was only a weeklong which was passed by Congress in 1981 and beginning in 1982. It was not until 1987 that Congress dedicated the entire month of March after being petitioned by the National Women’s History Project. Some women recognized during this month include past and present figures such as First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, Harriet Tubman, and Dolly Parton. Women do not have to be famous to be celebrated. It includes everyday heroes such as Director of Student Activities and Title IX Coordinator Kate Billings and Instructor of Communications Danielle Mehlman-Brightwell here at West Liberty University.

Kate Billings received her Bachelor of Science in Management with concentrations in Marketing & Consulting/Leadership degree from Binghamton University in 2008. After her undergrad degree, she went straight into the workforce. She explains, “I worked in Independent League baseball for about 6 years, with the Bridgeport Bluefish & Washington Wild Things. While in the Frontier League of Professional Baseball, I received the Commissioner’s Award for Excellence in 2013 for my work on the 2013 Frontier League All Star Game. During my time in Washington, I was also the Assistant General Manager for the NPF team, the Pennsylvania Rebellion, and worked with our owners and league in bringing the team to Washington.”

Billings added that going into such a male dominated field was especially challenging and intimidating, but once she got started, it was much easier, and she gained respect. Originally from New York, she made the adventurous decision to attend West Liberty University and receive her Master of Business Administration degree in 2018. She comments, “Here at WLU, I feel like my experience professionally, and how I got here can help encourage students here to go out and try anything. I made it to West Virginia all the way from New York. Students can do the same if that is what they see for themselves, take that jump, that risk, it may be scary, but you will most likely learn and grow as a person.”

Throughout her time here at WLU, she has Frank J Harrar Award for Outstanding Service in Student Services for the Division of Enrollment and Student Service in 2018. She also earned Staff Member of the Year from the Student Government Association and the student body in 2015, 2017, 2018, and 2019.
Her final comment was, “Through West Liberty, I have been able to meet and engage with so many faculty, staff, and students. I just hope that I have been able to support and influence them as much as I have been over the past 6 years here. As a Director in the Student Services Division, Scott Cook, my supervisor, really gives the directors the power to do what we see fit in our departments. I can continually grow professionally and personally here, learning from failures and successes. I believe and hope that the continual work we do will lead to a growing Student Life Office.”

Another significant woman at West Liberty is Professor Danielle Mehlman-Brightwell. As recorded by her WLU biography, she received her Bachelor of Arts from Wheeling Jesuit University, Master of Arts in Education from Muskingum University, and a Masters of Arts from Bowling Green State University. Mehlman-Brightwell had several leadership positions in her college experiences including Student Government at secretary and treasurer role, editor-in-chief of the student newspaper, and editor of the school’s literary magazine.

She is working on her PhD from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Her research includes, in her own words, “…why more women ran for office in the 2018 midterm election than in prior years. This qualitative study consisted of interviewing women representatives and senators from all over the state of Pennsylvania who won in the 2018 election…What I have learned from my research is that although women make up 51 percent of the United States population’s electorate, women have yet to break through proportional numbers in politics (Dolan & Hansen, 2018)…Knowledge can help make changes, so I encourage students to learn about politics/different policies and how it affects them and their loved ones and get involved in clubs and leadership roles now.”

Mehlman-Brightwell is an instructor of communication as well as senator elect for West Liberty’s College in Arts and Communication. She currently supervises The Trumpet and is the executive producer for Newsline 14 on Topper Station. She serves on several other committees on campus such as RECAP, The Trumpet’s 100th-year Committee,  and Distance Education Committee.
There are several ways to celebrate Women’s History Month. The most common and encouraged way is to educate yourself on women’s history as well as the issues they still currently face. Other ways include posting about the celebration on social media, promoting women-owned businesses, and simply telling women in your life how thankful you are for them.