Perspective: ‘Nevertheless She Persisted’

By Cryshanna Jackson Leftwich

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Serving students and the profession in teaching, scholarship and service are what motivate the drive to succeed. But there are two other areas that I would like to focus on in this column: Youngstown State University’s urban internship and the women and gender studies programs.

As director of the urban internship program in the YSU’s Department of Politics and International Relations, I am pleased to say that we have four interns placed this semester: one in the Mahoning County Court of Common Pleas, another at Community Legal Aid and two in the city of Youngstown’s Crime Initiative to Reduce Violence program.

As interns, students earn course credit in exchange for working with an agency in the political, legal or public service disciplines.

Students are introduced to public service and develop a network for future endeavors. Upon completion of their internships, many students get full-time job offers, letters of recommendation to graduate school and other opportunities to further their careers.

All students who meet the minimum qualifications are strongly encouraged to apply for the program.

I also serve as the director of the Women’s and Gender Studies, an interdisciplinary program that seeks to improve students’ knowledge of gender roles and relations across cultures.

The program allows students to get a deeper understanding of the ways their sex, race and socio-economic status intersect.

In January 2017, the program took a group of 28 students to Washington D.C., to participate in the Women’s March.

This event showed them firsthand how democracy works. Encouraging active participation in the democratic process is a pathway to active citizenship. And that’s what’s needed to have a true and strong democracy.

A year ago, the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell R-Ky., took the floor of that chamber and tried to defend his tactics to silence Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., from speaking against the nomination of Jeff Sessions as attorney general.

McConnell’s explanation was short but left a lasting impression: “She was warned, but nevertheless she persisted.”

He was unaware of the impact those three words would have on empowering women and encouraging them to speak up when everyone else remained silent.

Thus, the theme for Women’s History Month this month is “Nevertheless She Persisted.”

This theme encompasses all the amazing students here at Youngstown State University who overcome the obstacles confronting them.

There are students who juggle full-time jobs, full-time classes and full-time families; first-generation college students trying to navigate the political climate of higher education; minority students who face day-to-day uphill battles to graduate; international students who are a half-world away from their families and loved ones but nevertheless persist.

And for this, we recognize their commitment to success.

There is a great deal to look forward to in 2018. As part of Women’s History Month, we have planned training in bystander intervention with the goal of empowering individuals and provide tools so people move from being passive observers to active bystanders.

And we have scheduled a series of “Sista to Sista” forums for students to discuss careers, sex and healthy relationships.

International Women’s Day, co-sponsored with the YWCA of Youngstown, will celebrate women from around the world and a workshop on sexual harassment will be offered to ensure a safe environment to learn and grow.

For a full list of events, visit the women and gender studies website,

The author, an associate professor in the Department of Politics and International Relations at Youngstown State University, is its urban internship coordinator and director of women and gender studies. Columns submitted by YSU deans and professors are one element in ‘The New YSU!’ print and video series. To see the video stories click here.

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