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In observance of Women’s History Month -- the celebration of women’s contributions to history, culture and society, we celebrate some of our female leaders of Fisher College.

In observance of Women’s History Month -- the celebration of women’s contributions to history, culture and society, we celebrate some of our female leaders of Fisher College. Throughout the month of March, women who have contributed to and continue to make history in the United States are celebrated in reflection of their journey. From Abigail Adams to Rosa Parks, we dedicate this month to this national celebration of women that expanded in the early '80s from the week of March 8th into a monthlong event.

We are happy to share stories on some of the woman who have left an impression and continue to positively impact the community at Fisher College.

Lynne Robinson - Vice President of Graduate and Professional Studies (GPS)  

image of lynne robison vice president of graduate and professional studies

Lynne believes Women's History Month is a time to honor women who have contributed to the world and their communities. “I’m fortunate to be working at Fisher, which has many women in leadership roles,” she said. While working at Fisher, Lynne experienced a “trusted influence base,” of which she explains, “I try my best to be a person who encourages women to pursue their goals. I always try to be an active listener to other women, whether in my workplace or my personal life, and it has always paid off.”

Early on in Lynne’s career she was one of two women in her northeast-based role in a male-dominated job. She shared how it often felt as if many of the men thought I was better placed elsewhere. I took it as a challenge to show not only could I produce results as they did, but that I could hold my own in a conversation.”

Lynne believes the issue of exclusion to be based on her gender, which made her even more aware of the need to stand up and be an active participant in the workplace. She also believes that being proactive will help lessen discrimination as a woman in a predominant male workforce.

When asked about the most influential person in her life, Lynne struggled with her answer. There wasn’t one specific person, but several women who have influenced her in both her professional and personal life. Said Lynne, “I think as we move through life and career it is important to listen and learn from the small experiences, as well as more major ones.” She further stated that as we move through life and our career as women, it is important to listen and learn from each experience.

Janet Kuser - Vice President of Academic Affairs 

image of janet kuser  Vice President of Academic Affairs

Janet associates Women's History Month with the film, Hidden Figures, because it demonstrates how underappreciated these accomplished women were -- despite their brilliance. Janet believes Women's History Month highlights women's achievements and contributions in a variety of significant fields. Being a professional woman who raised her family while continuing her education, Janet can empathize with others who follow in her footsteps.

Janet’s understanding resonates from her personal experience with discrimination in the workplace. As a woman, she shares an eye-opening experience she had earlier in her career, where she was responsible for managing budgets and assigning raises. It was then that Janet discovered a newer manager with less staff and budget responsibility was making 10 percent more than his female colleagues. Upon her discovering this, she said, That hurt. I addressed it with my superiors and they made it right, but there was both an insensitivity (unintentional, perhaps) and inequity that might not have ever been addressed if I hadn’t discovered it. How often does this happen without it being discovered?

Today, Janet would like to believe discrimination against women is a thing of the past; however, it clearly exists in some environments, whether it is subtle or even unintentional. “I think awareness of individual or structural biases helps everyone avoid any type of discrimination,” Janet shared. We need to judge each person on their qualifications and accomplishments. And we need to look out for each other and speak up if we see something that we are not comfortable with.

As a manager, Janet tries to provide the opportunity, flexibility, and the grace to understand that at times we all might need some extra support. She also recognizes that good, qualified, and responsible employees are critical to an organization's success, so it's in everyone's best interest to support those individuals as much as possible. While inspiration and influence may come from a wide range of sources, including historical, political, and more personal ones, Janet’s mother has had a particularly large impact on her life. She shared how her mother had to work while she was growing up, which was unusual at the time, but she did it so her father could stop working his second job. Janet has always been driven to follow her dreams, thanks to her mother's strength and knowledge.

Sherry Belanger-Fisher College Police Captain 

image of sherry belanger Fisher College police captain

Double Falcon, Sherry Belanger, attended Fisher College as a criminal justice major for both her undergraduate and graduate degrees. As director of public safety and campus police, Sherry overlooks Fishers police department to create a safe campus and environment for all students, staff, and guests of Fisher College. She has been a part of Fisher’s campus police department for 17 years and promoted to captain this past summer. Along with her responsibilities on campus, Sherry stays involved by supporting many initiatives and events to raise awareness among students. As the advisor for the Criminal Justice Club, she works with aspiring students and finds ways to provide equal opportunities and to work closely with female leaders.

Although Sherry’s field of work is somewhat of a male dominated field, she is a leader and inspiration for females, and she shares her struggle in getting to her current level of success: It is difficult for opinions to be heard, ideas to be enacted, making it into leadership positions and finding female mentors in the field.

Sherry strives to support women and believes that a change in our culture could open doors to more women pursuing criminal justice and to prevent discrimination. In her current role as captain, Sherry ensures she will provide equal opportunities to women whether it’s within or outside the Fisher community. She strives to recruit the best-qualified applicants for a team that reflects the diversity of the community they will police.

When asked about the most influential woman she knows, Sherry responded, I think the most influential women are those who are quiet leaders. They lead in their corner of the universe and are tremendously influential to the people with whom they work and interact but would be unknown to most of the larger society. Those folks are making day-to-day impacts that guide and shape the next generation of women leaders.

Ana Massei-Biology '23  

It is no secret that opening doors in a male dominated space can be tough. Ana speaks on how representation is important to uplift and encourage other females to push through doors oftentimes seen as impossible. "As a woman and Latina, I strongly believe that representation is vital for empowering women and children to see themselves in any role, including in science.”

Currently, the biology field is largely dominated by males; however, when asking Ana about how she perseveres – even when times are rough, she said, “I was fortunate to have strong women on campus as mentors, professors, advisors and supervisors for my internship. They were always willing to share their experiences in their careers and what it meant to be a woman, always reaffirming our qualifications. The stories of these women on science and healthcare serve as an inspiration and empathize with the struggle along a sexist path, but affirming success is possible if we support each other.”

Being in a space to be able to lift each other is important. Recently, Ana joined forces with another female biology major and, together, they founded Fishers first Biology Club, which also includes four other young women. To Ana, this club offers the chance to show women it is possible to succeed in science and leadership roles.

When asked what Women's History Month meant to her, Ana replied that it is a time to be able to recognize being able to celebrate and highlight social, political, and economic achievements, and to honor those who paved the way for us to achieve the rights women have today. However, as important as acknowledging those who paved the way for us and those who achieved these accomplishments, Woman’s History Month offers us the chance to serve as an alert to gender issues that continue across the world.

While we grow up and find our place in the world, we often find people who inspire us. This can be a family member, a celebrity, professor, or even a close friend. However, for Ana this person is her mother. Ana speaks on the impact her mom has made in her life: Without a doubt, my mother for always teaching me that in addition to being brave, I shouldn't care about labels or what people think, always inspiring me to be authentic and most of all ambitious. While growing up and breaking down walls that used to hold people back, it is important to have a community in place where people can provide you an uplift of inspiration when needed. 

Madison Kelley-Biology '23 

image of student madison  kelley

While in high school, Madison competed in three sports: softball, volleyball, and basketball. When she began her college career at Fisher, Madison questioned her ability to play several sports while enrolled as a full-time student. But she decided to pursue her passion for athletics and plays several sports at Fisher as a full-time college student. Madison shares how she wants to be a positive influence on women: All I have ever wanted to do in my life is to be a positive influence for generations following me. I strive to encourage young women to do whatever they put their minds to. If they even consider doing something, I want them to know they can do it.”

Fast forward to her senior year, and she continues to play softball and basketball, and she has helped with two other sports: volleyball and the cross-country team. Madison has pursued all activities of interest. “When I had the opportunity to go outside the norm, I jumped on it,” she says. I preach to any young girl or woman to go and push themselves and others out of their comfort zone -- whether someone believes in them or not. Life is about challenges and overcoming them, and as a woman, I have experienced added challenges in life.

Participating in several sports while being a full-time student places her in the limelight. Madison reflects on how she’s been able to handle the attention: The spotlight was sometimes a lot to handle because I didn’t want to fail or let others down. The perception that women can't multitask or are quickly overwhelmed is what encouraged me to keep going and challenge stereotypes. The way to overcome any challenge was simply self-reflection. I had to assure myself that I could do this and that nobody was going to stop me from reaching my goals. The only person in my way is myself.

For every inspiration, the people that continue to push us or help us when we fall hold meaning for Madison. Those people are her parents -- the glue that holds her family together. When Madison’s mother was growing up, she knew she didn’t want the same life for her children, so she purposefully defied the stereotype that if you came from a broken home, you would continue to live in the same kind of circumstances in the future. So, while Madison was growing up, she knew her mother would always have her back and pick her up when she fell.

I will strive to be even half the mother to my kids as my mom has been to me,” she says. “I couldn’t imagine having a better supporter, best friend, or mom than the one that I have, and I will forever be grateful for all she has done for me and all she will continue to do for me.

Monica Adwani-B.S. in Management '12 

image of 2012 alumni Monica Adwani

Graduated almost a decade ago, alumna Monica Adwani is no stranger to Fisher College today. She stays involved with our alumni office and is often connecting with current students. As a successful businesswoman, Monica remains grateful for her time at Fisher and the classes she attended, as well as the professors who impacted her journey to success. Her experience at Fisher proves how this amazing community continues to support students beyond college and explains how Monica feels comfortable calling Fisher her home for so many years. After graduating in 2012, Monica gravitated toward the insurance industry and continues on this path as a leader and evergreen student.

As the founder of BRZ Insurance or Savvital, Monica was recognized back in 2019 as Massachusetts Young Agent of the Year. Along with her amazing work in the healthcare field, she has a podcast about empowering woman. In her podcast “Transcendwithm,” Monica hopes to create a safe space for businesswomen to feel empowered, to succeed, and to grow professionally. Monica loves being an inspiration and mentor to aspiring businessmen and women while giving back to her community.

Monica believes that having a mentor who is willing to share advice, feedback, and support is extremely important to her and her professional and personal growth. It’s always good to have a person that you can look up to, that you can call and ask for help. Monica was fortunate to have her own mentor, and now she’s ready to return the favor.

Danielle Herget-Associate Professor of Humanities, Honors Program Director and Staff Advisor, Drama Club 

image of Danielle Herget Associate Professor of Humanities, Honors Program Director and Staff Advisor of Drama Club

For Danielle, Women’s History Month is important because it highlights the many accomplishments and contributions women have made throughout history. While reflecting on women’s history, our society is able to better understand the struggles women have overcome to get to a place of freedom enjoyed today. It encourages us to push more, I try to encourage reflections into the history of women's struggle as often as possible, within my courses and in my own research and writing, says Danielle. She encourages her students to speak their minds and express concerns, always making sure to open discussion, whether in the classroom or on stage. 

When asked what her biggest challenges have been thus far in her career, Danielle specifies the struggle of being heard, both literally and figuratively." Through personal experience, she shares, "I sat in many classrooms in graduate school where the conversation was dominated by male voices.” She also adds the importance of using your voice as a woman and to support the voice of others who may not be heard. Even when battling the issues of discrimination against women, Danielle feels that as a society we should work together on supporting women’s voices and rights. She believes that “women need to be listened to and believed.

When asked who she believes to be the most influential women and how they inspired her, Danielle looks to Anne Boleyn (Henry VIII’s second wife) and to her own mother, Jill Herget. Anne Boleyn as a young married woman was able to reform an entire country and their religious patriarchal structure. She was able to accomplish these changes while being married to one of the most abusive kings. As for Danielle’s mother, Jill Herget, she continues to inspire Danielle with her strength and ability to take on any challenges that come her way. Jill taught both her daughters to stand up for themselves and not be afraid to speak their opinions. Danielle and her sister also were taught the importance of recognizing that a woman’s voice is just as important and powerful as a man’s.

Ashley Baez-Management: Entrepreneurship '26 

image of student ashley Baez

Self-described as joyful, ambitious, and disciplined, president of the Women Empowerment Club at Fisher College, Ashley Baez, wanted to create a safe space for women on-campus to gather and support each other without feeling judged.

Especially in a new chapter of our life that is college, I wanted to let other girls around campus know they are not alone, and that whatever they might be facing, now they have the support of other girls around them.

For Ashley, Women's History Month is more than just a month. She added, It is a specific time of year when women from all over the world get recognized for their hard work and value they add to our community and society, regardless of social status, race, or religion.

This month is a time when women look back at their accomplishments, look at others accomplishments, and take a moment to be proud and uplift others.

At a young age, Ashley was taught by her mother that in order to get where you want in life, you must face challenges. My mother not only taught me, but she demonstrated a million times – or so it felt -- that when life gets tough, we keep fighting. She is my inspiration, role model, and my everything. I owe her what I am today. Thanks to her sacrifices and hard work, I am able to find the value in small accomplishments and view a different perspective to almost everything in life.

 

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