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The Women Who Inspire Us

In honor of Women’s History Month, we asked Tritons to share “Who is a woman who inspires you and why?” The responses celebrated everyone from the familiar to the famous and made it clear that inspiration, like many things in life, comes in a variety of forms.

There were shout-outs to family:

Celia Franco

Celia Franco

“My mom, Celia, is my inspiration. She helped me understand what life is about and finding a little ray of happiness in difficult situations. She passed away in June 2019—the advice/guidance she provided holds true today. I attribute my ethics and honesty to her since she expected nothing less from all of her 10 children. Love you Mom.”

“My mom and grandma! They are powerful Vietnamese women who inspired me to chase my dreams. They couldn’t pursue a college education so I am proud to continue their journey at UCSD.”

“My grandmothers. One was meek and cautious by the time I met her but after her passing, I learned that she participated in civil rights marches and sit-ins. The other was fierce and not afraid to speak up for what’s right. She spent her early adulthood muted by religious rules and gender norm conformities but after losing her third infant she broke free from the mold and was unapologetic for pursuing happiness. They lived different lives but I inherited the fight for one’s own voice and the voices of oppressed groups from them both. Their legacies lie in my life story. My voice is something I don’t take for granted.”

“I’ll second the ‘mom vote.’ A single mother and (then) non-citizen, she worked in retail, standing all day in high heels. We moved multiple times so I could get into (and stay in) the best school districts in the area. I value the education I received, and my mom’s sacrifices made it possible.”

To the famous:

Angela Davis

Angela Davis. Photo Credit: Special Collections Library at UC San Diego

“[Ruth Bader Ginsburg] She championed causes for the weaker, marginalized and more vulnerable people with grace, intellect, integrity, love and courage. She also balanced family, work and her own health through the ages. I admire her for all of it!!! She inspires me to be just better and stronger all the time!”

“Angela Davis. Certainly, the most influential woman in my life.”

“One woman who continually inspires me is Marie Curie. Her determination to earn the education she wanted, and the lengths she went to in order to achieve it, are incredible. She made incredible contributions to science; her work is on every periodic table. Her life was filled with hard work, intelligence, breaking glass ceilings and helping others. Her story is absolutely amazing.”

“Lady Liberty appeared on early United States coins, and is also seen on the Statue of Liberty. She reminds me to value the freedoms we have in this country.”

Marie Curie

Marie Curie in her chemistry laboratory at the Radium Institute in France, April 1921. Source: Nationaal Archief of the Netherlands

“My inspiration is the legendary Indian singer Lata Mangeshkar, who recently passed away. She was extremely talented and contributed a great deal to Indian music.”

“The late Black feminist author, bell hooks. Her writing has opened my eyes to injustice and challenged me to understand the lived experiences of Black women in new ways. In particular, her 1994 book “Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom” painted a very different picture of the American education system, calling upon teachers to use their knowledge to resist and teach resistance, as a practice of educational freedom.”

And to our friends and colleagues:

“My friend Loretta Turner. She is an ambitious woman of color who upholds the highest standards of professionalism and ethics for her work as a professional coach, management consultant and mindfulness teacher. She creates safe spaces wherever she goes, she is reflective and introspective, and has learned to navigate advocating for herself in uncomfortable situations.”

Cheryl Anderson

Dr. Cheryl Anderson

“Rachel Corell, who is an inspirational Triton for her volunteering work, also inspires me to exercise and make it through the challenging days. With an incredibly tough chronic health issue, I have a lot of tough days, but texts from Rachel (RC) always help me make it through and inspire me to do a little bit more than I thought possible. RC is a true Triton inspiration!”

“Courtney Thompson - icon, legend and all-around bad*ss at Owen Clinic. She works tirelessly for our patients and goes above and beyond to help them. I want to thank her for being an amazing colleague and mentor. I am truly lucky to be able to work and learn from her. She is an inspiration and a shining star to all of us.”

“Dr. Cheryl Anderson! She is, hands down, a woman to be honored and admired as a woman, mom, professor, wife, researcher, leader, professional—the list goes on! What a UC San Diego treasure, a person to hold onto for sure!”

Thank you to everyone who took the time to share!