Students bring speakers to campus for bipartisan discussion of women in politics
RELEASED: February 26, 2009
[Editor's Note: Laura Pasley '10, an English major from Georgetown, Ky., wrote this feature.]
DANVILLE, KY—To bring both sides of the political spectrum together, the president of the Centre College Democrats, Erica Arave '09, and the president of the Centre College Republicans, Meg Thompson '09, held a bipartisan discussion on women and politics.
The guests included Kentucky State Auditor Crit Luallen (Centre Class of 1974 and Centre Board of Trustees Member) and Kentucky State Representative Alicia Webb-Edgington, as well as Dr. Lori Hartmann-Mahmud, NEH Associate Professor of International Studies at Centre.
Arave explains why she and Thompson chose these speakers: "I chose Crit Luallen as a representative for our organization because of her distinguished career and ties to the College, along with her important role as auditor for the state of Kentucky. Meg chose State Representative Alecia Webb-Edgington to represent the Republicans. I thought it was a great choice and brought awareness to a little known representative in the state of Kentucky."
She added, "We also chose Professor Lori Hartmann-Mahmud to help introduce the event because of her continued study in gender politics and her current class dealing with the same topic."
Hartmann-Mahmud was the first speaker of the evening. While her research focuses on the study of women and development in West Africa, Hartmann-Mahmud also is currently teaching a government class titled "Gender and Politics." She began the convocation with some background on women's rights in politics in America, dating back from Abigail Adams in 1776 to Hillary Clinton of today.
Next to approach the podium was Luallen, who began her speech with a revelation that she was an art major at Centre, graduating in 1974 with another famous alum, Steven Rolfe Powell '74, Stodghill Professor of Art and world-renowned glassblowing artist.
A student asked Luallen what led her from majoring in art to running for state auditor (and becoming the only woman in an elected position in Kentucky at this time). Luallen explained, "Centre College gave me that outstanding broad foundation that I needed to excel in many different fields that have been traditionally male dominated. And I do credit Centre with that success."
When asked what mentors have led her to where she is today, Luallen cited former Kentucky governors Wendell Ford and Martha Layne Collins. She explained that Collins taught her "a woman can be tough and strong in the public arena and still be a woman that can have compassion and strength and all the other qualities that distinguish women."
The final speaker for the evening was Kentucky State Representative Webb-Edgington from the 63rd district in Northern Kentucky.
Thompson says that the College Republicans chose Webb-Edgington because of the incredible role model she is for young women wishing to enter politics and for her record of service to the Commonwealth.
Wedd-Edgington began her speech by citing her favorite Danville hot spot, Burke's Bakery. and said that it was one of the many reasons she was excited to be at Centre for the lecture.
Webb-Edgington spoke of her career in the Kentucky State Police. The representative was in Cadet Class 68, in 1992, which marked the first year in Kentucky that there was no height requirement for the incoming cadets. Webb-Edgington, at 5' 2'', would not have met the former requirement of 5' 7''.
Despite being the shortest member of the State Police Department for many years, she had a 20-year career in law enforcement and served as Homeland Security Director under former governor Paul Patton, before running for her current office.
"If you work hard and play by the rules, and stay within your core principles, you can achieve great things in this country," said the representative of her success.
Thompson said of the convocation, "I think it was incredibly successful and inspiring, and the speakers were phenomenal. I think the best moments were in the displays of their commitments to public service and how passionately they shared their work."
Arave agreed. "I think the convo was an enormous success. Many people came to hear the two speakers talk about the need for more female representation in our governmental bodies (particularly in Kentucky). They were great motivators for the students here at Centre College looking for future positions in government."
- end -
Founded in 1819, Centre College is ranked among the U.S. News top 50 national liberal arts colleges. Consumers Digest ranks Centre No. 1 in educational value among all U.S. liberal arts colleges. Centre alumni, known for their nation-leading loyalty in annual financial support, include two U.S. vice presidents and two Supreme Court justices. For more, visit http://www.centre.edu/web/elevatorspeech/
For news archives go to http://www.centre.edu/web/news/newsarchive.html.
600 W. Walnut Street
Danville, KY 40422