Photo Courtesy of Jamaal Ethridge and Carolyn Mason
March is Women’s History Month. Beginning as a local celebration in Santa Rosa, California, the movement quickly spread across the country. In 1987, Congress passed Public Law 100-9, which designated March as Women’s History Month. The purpose of this month is to celebrate and honor women’s contributions in American history. Here, in Alachua County, we are surrounded by women who work hard to advocate for the community and for students in the Alachua County Public School system. This month, I wanted to recognize some of these local women who do so much.
Carjie Scott believes being a woman means having an obligation to her community. As a wife and a mother, she is responsible for her children and how they behave in the world, as well as helping her husband be equipped with the tools that he needs in life and work.
Scott has always felt inspired by female leaders and strong women like Beyonce and Oprah who both come from humble beginnings and have transformed their careers.
Scott is an author and co-founder of a nonprofit organization called The Education Equalizer Foundation. She works as an adjunct instructor at Santa Fe College and as an executive administrator at a Historically Black College and University. She has 10 and a half years of experience in higher education.
Through her nonprofit she helps families get their students through college.
“We are deliberate and intentional to try to help Black, minority and first generation college students with having the tools that they need to not only start school, but stay in school and graduate debt-free,” Scott said.
She was driven to do this work as a minority and as a first generation college student herself.
“It wasn’t until I got enrolled into college that I realized the different opportunities that I could have and how attending college could change the entire trajectory of my life,” Scott said. “My college education literally saved my life.”
Scott believes there’s an extra tax that comes with being a woman, especially one in leadership. Women often encourage people to be their authentic selves and challenge people to be self-reflective. Women often take on additional roles, she said.
“Sometimes I have to be not just the director … but also the guidance counselor or the therapist if a kid had a bad day or the transportation … if students get themselves in a sticky situation,” Scott said. “Because I’m a woman, oftentimes I’m seen as a mom to my students.”
She feels grateful to be seen in such a trustworthy light as a sister, an aunt, a mom or a daughter figure to so many.
There are some days where taking on all of these roles can feel burdensome.
“I’m human, and I’m not always able to give if my cup is empty,” Scott said.
There’s also a prevalence of prejudice like sexism and racism in higher education as well, she said.
“All of those things are burdensome, just the societal norms that we have to deal with as women because women are a minority,” Scott said.
She has learned how to prioritize self-care, and believes it’s important for other women to as well. This means going to the gym several days a week, eating healthy and journaling or writing before bed each night.
To younger women, she says: “trust your inner gut and trust your instincts.”
“Really take advantage of opportunities where you can find mentorship from people who’ve already walked towards the path that you’re wanting to go down,” she said.
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