“Where will our country find leaders with integrity, courage, strength-all the family values-in ten, twenty, or thirty years? The answer is that you are teaching them, loving them, and raising them right now.”   Barbara Bush

Barbara Bush was considered by many to an example of a hopelessly antiquated woman.  But I have always admired her way of navigating a very public life and staying true herself.  The world has lost a woman who had true power and used it for the good of her family and the world.  What follows is an article that appeared in the New York Times this week that I believe gives us a glimpse of the woman behind the persona.


Barbara Bush, a First Lady Without Apologies

By Jon Meacham

She knew who she was, and she saw no need to apologize for it. In the spring of 1990, the administration of Wellesley College invited Barbara Bush, then the first lady of the United States, to speak at commencement and receive an honorary degree. Students at the women’s college protested, declaring in a petition that Mrs. Bush had “gained recognition through the achievements of her husband,” and adding that Wellesley “teaches us that we will be rewarded on the basis of our own merit, not on that of a spouse.”

And so a generational battle was joined. As her husband, George H. W. Bush, put it in his private White House diary, Mrs. Bush was being attacked “because she hasn’t made it on her own — she’s where she is because she’s her husband’s wife.” Mr. Bush added: “What’s wrong with the fact that she’s a good mother, a good wife, great volunteer, great leader for literacy and other fine causes? Nothing, but to listen to these elitist kids there is.” To the young women of the last decade of the 20th century, Mrs. Bush, who had dropped out of Smith College to marry, seemed a throwback to a less enlightened time.

Mrs. Bush, who died on Tuesday at age 92, never flinched, appearing at Wellesley and using her commencement address to explore the complexities of life’s choices. There was no single path, she told the graduates; one followed one’s heart and did the best one could. “Maybe we should adjust faster, maybe we should adjust slower,” she said. “But whatever the era, whatever the times, one thing will never change: Fathers and mothers, if you have children — they must come first. You must read to your children, hug your children, and you must love your children. Your success as a family, our success as a society, depends not on what happens in the White House, but on what happens inside your house.”

The loudest applause came when she remarked that perhaps there was someone in the audience who would, like her, one day preside over the White House as the president’s spouse. “And I wish him well,” Mrs. Bush said.

It was classic Barbara Pierce Bush: politically skillful, balanced — and good for her husband, for she presented herself as at once reasonable and reasonably conservative, which was the essence of Mr. Bush’s own political persona.

Barbara Bush was the first lady of the Greatest Generation — a woman who came of age at midcentury, endured a world war, built a life in Texas, raised her family, lost a daughter to leukemia, and promoted first her husband’s rise in politics, and then that of her sons. As the wife of one president and the mother of another, she holds a distinction that belongs to only one other American in the history of the Republic, Abigail Adams.

It’s neither sentimental nor hyperbolic to note that Barbara Bush was the last first lady to preside over an even remotely bipartisan capital. She and her husband were masters of what Franklin D. Roosevelt once referred to as “the science of human relationships.”

Part of the reason grew out of the generational and cultural disposition that had prompted the Wellesley protesters to speak out. Born in New York City in 1925, raised in Rye, N.Y., and long shaped by the WASP code of her mother-in-law, Dorothy Walker Bush, Mrs. Bush was reflexively hospitable. The elder Bushes governed in a spirit of congeniality and of civility, a far cry from the partisan ferocity of our own time. In her White House — and at Camp David and at Walker’s Point, the family’s compound on the coast of Maine — Democrats and Republicans were welcomed with equal frequency and equal grace.

She had always known what she was getting into, for George H. W. Bush saw life as both a great adventure and as a long reunion mixer. After graduating from Yale in 1948, Mr. Bush drove himself to Odessa, Tex., sending for Barbara and George W., who had been born in 1946, once he’d rented half a duplex they were to share with a mother-daughter team of prostitutes. It was the first of 27 moves the Bushes would make on their American odyssey.

Writing her parents from Odessa to thank them for sending $25 to pay for nursery school for George W., Mrs. Bush reported that “G.W.B. has a wee bit of the Devil in him. This a.m. while I was writing a letter early he stuck a can opener into my leg. Very painful and it was all I could do to keep from giving him a jab or two.” They would lovingly tease each other for decades; George W. Bush often said he had inherited his father’s eyes and his mother’s mouth.

And her tongue could be sharp. In 1984, after she unwisely described Geraldine Ferraro, who campaigned against her husband as Walter Mondale’s vice-presidential running mate, as a word that rhymed with “rich,” she acknowledged that her family was now referring to her as the “poet laureate.”

She was tireless in her advocacy for literacy, and in 1989, at a time when AIDS was still shrouded in mystery and misunderstanding, Mrs. Bush visited a home for H.I.V.-infected infants in Washington, and hugged the children there, as well as an infected adult man. It sent a powerful message — one of compassion, of love, of acceptance. Her popularity as first lady was such that, in 1992, some voters sported buttons with a final plea for the World War II generation: “Re-Elect Barbara’s Husband.”



If you have a story about an inspiring woman, please feel free to leave a link to your post in the comments section.


“We can have feminist icons, but the real heroines are just quietly doing what is needed.”  Osyth

The following post was written by Darlene Foster who writes at Darlenefoster.wordpress.com.  It is the tale of her two great-grandmothers who made a fulfilling life for themselves and their families while enduring great hardships.  What struck me about this story, of these two real heroines, was that Darlene said that because of the legacy of these women it has given her the confidence and courage to know that she can thrive under any circumstance.

A Tale of Two Katharinas, a Legacy of Strong Women

“People will not look forward to posterity who never look backward to their ancestors.” Edmund Burke

I was fortunate to know both of my maternal great-grandmothers. They passed away when I was in my early teens but I remember them well. They were formidable women with hearts of gold. One thing was for sure, you didn´t mess with either of them.
Both great-grandmothers were born into German immigrant farmer families living in South Russia and came to Canada at the beginning of the 20th century to help populate and develop the Prairie Provinces. They certainly did their part in populating the area as they had twenty-four children between the two of them!

The Hoffman family upon arrival to Canada

My grandmother´s mother, Katharina (Herrmann) Hoffman, arrived in Canada in 1909 from South Russia with her husband, three small children and another on the way. Being German, they could no longer safely stay in a country on the verge of a revolution. The Canadian government needed robust, hardy folks to settle the prairies. The steppes of Russia were very similar to the Canadian prairies, the price was right at one dollar and they needed a place to live.

The brave family took the onerous three-week journey across the Atlantic on a cattle ship to Halifax, then on a train to their homestead in southern Alberta. A stop had to be made in Winnipeg so Katharina could give birth to her fourth child, my grandmother. They eventually arrived at their destination; a desolate piece of land with no house, trees, water or neighbours. A temporary house, built from sod blocks carved out of the earth made do until a wooden house was eventually built. The sod was plastered with mud and cow dung inside and out and then whitewashed.

Katharina Hoffman and her Family

Great-grandmother decorated the walls with designs from a cut out potato dipped in beet juice. Katharina had seven more children once settled in Canada. Not all survived childhood as was the case in those days. A great cook, I recall her delicious German baking vividly. She grew a large vegetable garden, her home was kept spotless at all times and she made clothes for her children from flour sacks. She was a plucky, hardworking and resourceful woman who loved her family above all else. I am so lucky to have her blood running through my veins.

Katharina Mehrer and her family

My grandfather´s mother´s story is similar. Also named Katharina (Stoller) Mehrer, she arrived in Canada from South Russia in 1911 with her husband and four children under four, the youngest only six weeks old. With these small children, they travelled through Europe by train, crossed the Atlantic by boat and then across the United States by train before arriving at their homestead in South East Saskatchewan.

This young woman left behind a life of comfort and had to deal with homesickness, extreme climate, a new language and the death of an infant. Not only did she go on to have another nine children, she acted as a midwife to other members of the community, attending over fifty births. She also helped her husband in the fields. There was no time for self-pity. No matter the hardships, she just got on with it. I recall she was a tiny woman full of energy and determination.
I love this story my great-aunt shared about an experience her mother, Katharina Mehrer, had in April of 1912, the first year they were in Canada.
Her husband was out turning sod when he had some trouble with the horses. He called to Katharina, who came across the road, leaving the little ones in the house, thinking she would only be a few minutes. It took a long time before she returned – to an empty house. Panic-stricken she rushed out, calling for the little ones but all that greeted her was silence. After searching the yard she returned to the house wondering what she could say to their father.
In the Kitchen, on one of the walls, there were six large hooks on which to hang heavy garments. On one of these hooks hung the long, black wool coat that her husband had brought from Europe. A long bench sat underneath. As she entered the kitchen she noticed a slight movement of the coat. She pulled it to one side and there sat four little people, sleeping and perspiring. Five-year-old John holding the baby and a little sister on each side of him. He explained to his mother that she was gone so long that he decided to keep them safe in case someone came to take them away.

The little boy, John, was my dear grandfather who passed those nurturing habits on to my mother and me.

Family was everything to my great-grandmothers who handed this value on down the line. These women believed in education and encouraged their children to get a good education and do well in life. Consequently, there are many successful people in our family. Both ideal role models, the Katharinas provided the attributes of determination, steadfastness and tenacity to the subsequent generations.
Whenever I think of these two remarkable women, I appreciate the trail they blazed for the rest of us and am eternally grateful. I am who I am because of them. When I set a goal, I will do everything to achieve it. I am not afraid of hard work and my bosses have often commented on how much work I could accomplish and not break a sweat. I even made the trip back across the Atlantic to live in another country. Mind you, I did it without small children in tow and on an airplane, not a three-week boat journey. Most important, I had a choice. A freedom I also owe to both Katharinas.
When things seem to go wrong for me and I have a bad day, I remind myself of what my great-grandmothers went through and carry on. I believe the strength of our ancestors does sustain us.

The Hoffman, Mehrer and Foster Women Rock!

If you have a story about an inspiring woman, please feel free to leave a link to your post in the comments section.


“We can have feminist icons, but the real heroines are just quietly doing what is needed.”  Osyth

The New York Times went one step further and solicited stories about the “real heroines”.  I know you are going to enjoy these stories and the love of the writers telling their stories.


Readers Nominate Their Overlooked Grandmothers for a Times Obit

Times readers submitted photographs of their overlooked grandmothers and great-grandmothers.

When we published the first installment of the Overlooked project two weeks ago, we asked readers to suggest people they felt deserved, but didn’t get, New York Times obituaries.

By now, we have received close to 2,500 submissions. Among these were about 30 from readers who told us of their own grandmothers or great-grandmothers who often fought strong institutional prejudice against them.

We found their stories moving, fascinating and inspiring and wanted to share them with you. A selection of these tributes, submitted by the grandchildren or great-grandchildren of the subjects, is below.

The biographical details of these submissions have been independently verified or corroborated by reviewing news reports and source material. We have also condensed and edited them for clarity.

Dr. Anita V. Figueredo with Mother Teresa, in Kolkata. Dr. William J. Doyle

Dr. Anita V. Figueredo
1916 to 2010

My grandmother was one of the most remarkable female physicians of the 20th century. Born in Costa Rica, where the idea of a woman doctor was far-fetched, she declared her intent to pursue medicine when she was 5. Her mother believed in her, and the two set sail for New York, where they settled in Spanish Harlem.

At 19, Dr. Figueredo was one of only four women at Long Island College of Medicine. She was one of the first two female surgical residents at what is now known asMemorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Her 4-foot-11-inch frame required her to use a step stool to perform surgery.

As San Diego County’s first female surgeon, she maintained an oncology practice throughout motherhood (she and her husband had nine children; legend had it she sometimes went right from operating room to maternity ward). She was credited with introducing the Pap smear to the West Coast, having been trained by George Papanicolaou himself.

An article about Dr. Figueredo in Look magazine.

Her other great passion was humanitarianism, which produced a long friendship with Mother Teresa, who called her “The Smiling Apostle of Charity.” These details represent the tip of the iceberg of Dr. Figueredo’s life. (I have not, for example, mentioned the time she rode the New York subway with a severed head in a paper bag.) —Submitted by Lila Byock, Los Angeles

Peggy Jean Connor with her grandson RJ Young Amanda Reagan

Peggy Jean Connor
1932 to 2018

She sued the governor of Mississippi and other state officials in 1965 for voting rights reapportionment and finally won. She was secretary of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, which challenged the all-white Democratic Party at the national convention in Atlantic City alongside Lawrence Guyot and Fannie Lou Hamer.

She’s a Carter G. Woodson award recipient. She has a research grant named in her honor at the University of Southern Mississippi. She passed in January 2018. She is my grandmother. —Submitted by RJ Young, Tulsa, Okla.

Dr. Marguerite Rush Lerner with her husband, Aaron. Courtesy of Lane Rush Lerner

Dr. Marguerite Rush Lerner
1924 to 1987

My grandpa Aaron B. Lerner received a New York Times obituary in 2007, but my grandma never received similar recognition, though they worked as a team and she had incredible achievements in her own right. I think their relationship dynamic is what allowed both to achieve great things together.

“Who Do You Think You Are?” was published by Prentice-Hall in 1963.

Her parents did not believe women should have careers, so she worked as a typist during World War II to save money for her education. She began her medical degree at Johns Hopkins but transferred to Case Western Reserve to be closer to my grandpa.

She was the first female chief of Yale University Health Services’ dermatology clinic in 1971; was a very successful author who wrote children’s books centered around public health and diversity, as well as medical texts; performed early research in breast cancer; and raised four boys.

Behind the scenes, she significantly helped my grandpa’s team showcase its groundbreaking discovery of melatonin. Sadly, she passed away from early onset Alzheimer’s, which shortened her career. —Submitted by Lane Rush Lerner, Chicago

Erica Laros with her grandmother Mafalda Caliri. Sherry Caliri Ferdinandi

Mafalda (Muffy) Katherine Vessella Caliri
1912 to 2015

My great-grandmother had only an eighth-grade education, yet was a woman of wisdom. She lived at home, cooked meatballs on Sunday and shoveled snow until age 99. She adored her family and was close to God. She nurtured plants and people, loved music and saved aluminum foil in perfectly neat little squares.

She was born to two Italian immigrants from Caserta. In 1935, she married a Sicilian cobbler, Antonio Caliri, in a simple wedding with just three orchids as a bouquet. Around the same time, she registered to vote to cast a ballot for Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who made an impression on her when he spoke in Providence.

When I was 30, she said she wanted to show me something and led me to her dresser drawer. Wrapped in a silk handkerchief was a dinner roll, shrunken from its original size and fossilized by time. “It was blessed by the spirit of St. Anthony,” she said. “It’s over 60 years old and it’s good luck — I carried it in my suitcase everywhere, even to Italy.”

When Mafalda got sick and needed long-term care, I hid the dinner roll in my own dresser, periodically checking to make sure it was still there. When she was laid to rest, next to her husband, Antonio, so too was the magical roll. —Submitted by Erica Laros, Cranston, R.I.

Julia Bardmesser, second from left, with her mother, daughter and grandmother, Tatyana Y. Kosolapova.Boris Kosolapov

Tatyana Y. Kosolapova
1918 to 2016

My grandmother was born in Odessa, Ukraine, and died in Brooklyn, N.Y. She was a material scientist, with books translated into English and Japanese. She headed a lab at the Institute for Problems in Materials Science, one of the premier research institutes in Kiev.

She was involved in the design for, among other projects, the Soviet space program and the Chernobyl reactor cover. When she died, her colleagues in Kiev held a one-day conference in her memory.

She accomplished all this as a Jewish woman in the Soviet Union, going through World War II and Stalin’s repressions; an aunt and uncle arrested in the 1930s were sent to Siberia for 10 years. She had an incredible work ethic, writing her books and dissertation at night after a full day of work and caring for her family.

She emigrated here in 1995, after she retired. She was the best example of the Russian intelligentsia I can think of: well read, intellectually curious, kind, helping other people as much as she could. —Submitted by Julia Bardmesser, New York City

Mary Stanley Low in 1936, holding her favorite pistol. Juan Breá

Mary Stanley Low
1912 to 2007

Mary Low was my grandmother.

She was a political activist, poet and teacher born in London. She was a co-author, along with her Cuban first husband, of “Red Spanish Notebook,” a very early English-language eyewitness account of Barcelona at the start of the Spanish Civil War.

She wielded both a pistol and a pen to fight fascism when it still had no name, helping organize a women’s militia. She escaped Franco and the Nazis, to Cuba, where she lived for 25 years, leading a surrealist movement and a Trotskyist group. She then escaped to Miami, where she taught Latin and the classics.

I grew up with stories of George Orwell (she said he was very brave), Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald, André Breton and Wifredo Lam — all artists and writers — told amid songs she sang about anarchists and workers. (And she really loved the Beatles.)

As a grandmother, she was equally doting and eccentric. She hand drew me playing cards of French monarchs; I think I was the only 8-year-old who knew the entire Plantagenet lineage. She once decorated my bedroom in the style of Caesar’s army tent.

“Three Voices,” a book of Mary Low’s poetry published in 1957. Courtesy of Laylah Bulman

But she was most proud of “Red Spanish Notebook,” written in the midst of a civil war. People need to know a woman told that story, risking her life to do so. She can inspire other women to shine a light and tell the truth to the world. —Submitted by Laylah Bulman, Miami

Bertha Klausner Courtesy of Rebecca Spence

Bertha Klausner

1901 to 1997

One of the earliest female literary agents, Bertha Klausner represented such figures as Upton Sinclair, Eleanor Roosevelt, Basil Rathbone, Robert Payne, Marcel Marceau and Representative Adam Clayton Powell Jr.

For decades she worked out of her New York apartment on 40th Street and Lexington Avenue, and in the late 1940s she set up a satellite office in Los Angeles, at a time when few women operated on the business side in Hollywood, selling radio television, and film scripts.

Known for her loyalty to writers, Klausner worked until two months before she died, at the age of 96. She was my great-grandmother. —Submitted by Rebecca Spence, Taos, N.M.

Dr. Priscilla Frew Pollister Penelope Jane Pollister Price

Dr. Priscilla Frew Pollister
1903 to 1992

My grandmother was a biology researcher and professor at Brooklyn College at a time when there were few full-time professional women scientists.

She and my grandfather were from a mill town in Maine and did their undergraduate studies at Bates College; she went to grad school at Columbia University with a specialization in invertebrate biology and got her Ph.D. there in 1936. She spent several summers doing research at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

I have been told she was an effective and inspiring lecturer; undoubtedly there are students who remember her. I recall her sharp wit and cackling laughter. In later life, her overall look and demeanor did little to dispel the notion among neighborhood children that she might be a witch — and this absolutely delighted her! —Submitted by Penelope Jane Pollister Price, Souderton, Pa.

Mary Sherwood Wright Jones in 1972 Courtesy of Anne Sherwood Pundyk

Mary Sherwood Wright Jones
1892 to 1985

My grandmother was an artist and illustrator who created original, sequential illustrations for the children’s classroom newspaper My Weekly Reader from 1928 to 1960. Her weekly contributions supported the publication’s pioneering reading readiness program and reached millions of readers.

Illustrations that appeared in the children’s classroom newspaper My Weekly Reader. Courtesy of Anne Sherwood Pundyk

Using pen, ink and brush, she created several hundred short narratives for children featuring, among others, her earnest, enterprising character Peek the Brownie.She illustrated many other books as well, including “A Child’s History of the World” and was my first mentor in my own career as an artist.

Her legacy will continue as she was honored in 2015 by the Ohio State University Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum, which accepted her work into its permanent collection. —Submitted by Anne Sherwood Pundyk, New York City

If you have a story about an inspiring woman, please feel free to leave a link to your post in the comments section.


I have watched with great interest and a very happy heart the young activist from the Marjory Stoneman Douglas School working to make a change in the gun control policies in the United States.  They have been unstinting in their efforts to try to make a change that would guarantee the right to safety at school to every student in our country.  I have always been curious about who the people are that schools are named after.  Imagine how please I was to read about Marjory Stoneman Douglas.  This school is named after a very inspiring activist.  I guess the students come by their activism honestly.

Marjory Stoneman Douglas

Marjory Stoneman Douglas’s 1947 best seller, The Everglades: River of Grass, raised America’s consciousness and transformed the Florida Everglades from an area that was looked upon as a useless swamp – to be drained and developed commercially – to a national park that is seen as a valuable environmental resource to be protected and preserved. After this successful campaign to preserve the Everglades as a national park, Douglas continued her work by founding the Friends of the Everglades, a conservation organization still active today.

Always ahead of her time, Douglas graduated from Wellesley College as an English major in 1912. A few years later, Douglas went to Miami to be a reporter for her father’s newspaper, which later became The Miami Herald. During World War I, she served with the American Red Cross in Europe. After the war, she launched her career as a newspaper editor at her father’s paper. Many of her editorials focused on what she perceived to be Florida’s increasing problem of rapid commercial development. In the 1920s, she left the newspaper to launch a second career as an author. Over the years she published many books and short stories, both fiction and non-fiction – most for adults but several for children – especially focusing on women, the history and life in southern Florida and environmental issues. She also engaged in a number of other campaigns and charity work to improve society: campaigns against slum-lords and for improved housing conditions, for free milk for babies whose parents needed aid, and for the ratification of the Women’s Suffrage Amendment.

Most important, she dedicated her life to preserving and restoring the Everglades. She lived long enough to witness great successes. In 1996, for example, Florida voters passed a constitutional amendment that held polluters primarily responsible for cleaning up the Everglades. And the Florida and federal governments have authorized multimillion-dollar projects to restore and expand the Everglades. In recognition of her tireless and successful struggle, the state of Florida named the headquarters of its Department of Natural Resources after her.

Awarding Mrs. Douglas the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1993, President Clinton recognized her achievements. Upon her death in 1998 at the age of 108, President Clinton said: “Long before there was an Earth Day, Mrs. Douglas was a passionate steward of our nation’s natural resources, and particularly her Florida Everglades.”



I invite you to leave a link in the comments section to an article you have posted about an inspiring woman.

The information in this article was obtained from Wikidpedia.



I read with great interest this week that the New York Times was starting a project to recognize women who added significantly to society but were never recognized in the New York Times Obituary Column.  I found it interesting that they said that up to now the column has been dominated by white men and they wanted to rectify this situation.  What follows is the link to 15 stories of very inspiring women.



Please feel free to add a link to a post that you have written about an inspiring woman in the comments section.




Happy Woman’s Day

I went in search of another story about an inspiring girl and didn’t have to look very far.  Please read about Gitanjali Rao who at 12 years old recognized that water polluted with lead was a massive problem for many people worldwide and set out to help.  She has invented a lead detection system.

Gitanjali Rao, a seventh grader from Colorado, has been awarded the title of “America’s top young scientist” for designing a compact device to detect lead in drinking water, which she believes can be faster and cheaper than other current methods.

The 12-year-old’s invention was inspired by the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, where cost-cutting measures led to tainted drinking water that contained lead and other toxins.

It also won her a $25,000 prize, for which Rao already has plans: “I plan to use most of it in developing my device further so that it can be commercially available soon,” she told CNN.

An invisible enemy

“After I learned about Flint,” said Rao, “I continued to research and follow it for the next couple years. Then, I saw my parents testing for lead in our water and that is pretty much what sparked the idea. I realized that using test strips would take quite a few tries to get accurate results and I wanted to do something to change this, not only for my parents but for the residents of Flint and places like Flint around the world.”

Since lead does not affect the taste, smell of appearance of water in any way, the only way to detect it is with a test. There are currently two main ways to do so, home testing strips or lab testing. The strips generally cost between $15 and $30, can detect various contaminants and offer quick results, but they are not designed for maximum accuracy. That requires the more rigorous lab testing, which involves collecting a sample of water at home — specific kits are sold for around $10 — and then sending it to a lab to get detailed results, which can cost an additional $20 to $100, according to the EPA.

Rao thinks her device could become a competitively priced alternative: “The prototype cost just over $20 to make, but all of the materials were custom-manufactured. At bulk, I expect the production cost to be significantly less than that.”

How it works

The device, called “Tethys” after the Greek Titan goddess of fresh water, uses carbon nanotubes, microscopic cylindrical structures that have a range of unusual properties and innovative applications. Inspired by an MIT project that employs them to detect hazardous gases in the air, Rao decided to try them in the water: “My solution uses carbon nanotubes to detect lead in water faster than any other current techniques. It has a carbon nanotube sensor, to which special atoms are added that react to lead,” she said.

The Tethys device prototype.

The Tethys device prototype.

When dipped in contaminated water, the special atoms react with lead molecules and add resistance to a flow of current in the nanotubes, which is then easily detected by the device: “The amount of resistance is proportional to the amount of lead in the water. The processor includes an attachment that sends the measurements over Bluetooth to a smartphone. The smartphone app, that I custom developed, captures this data and shows the results on a user-friendly scale.”

Rao thinks that Tethys will be better than both lab testing and strips: “Testing water in labs is the most accurate test available today, however, it takes time and requires expensive equipment not easily accessible to everybody. On the other end, test strips are easy to use, but they do not quantify the contamination and are sometimes inaccurate requiring multiple tests.”

“My solution addresses all of the above issues. It uses a disposable cartridge that can cost as low as a dollar, it is fast, accurate and it shows lead contamination levels on a regular smartphone, that are easy to interpret and take appropriate action,” she said.

The prize

The seventh-grader, who attends the STEM School in Highlands Ranch, Colorado, originally submitted the idea to the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge, an annual youth science and engineering competition for middle school students in the US, inaugurated in 2008. She was awarded a 3-month mentorship with Kathleen Shafer, a research specialist who develops new plastics technologies: “Gitanjali’s concept was at a very early stage at the beginning of our mentorship. She had thought of this idea earlier this year, only a few weeks before the submission deadline,” Shafer told CNN.

Gitanjali Rao with Kathleen Shafer.

Gitanjali Rao with Kathleen Shafer.

Along with nine other finalists, she then presented her work to a panel of 3M scientists and school representatives from across the country, and won: “I think the judges recognized the significant progress Gitanjali made over the summer, advancing her project from a cardboard box prototype to building out Tethys’ software and 3D-printed hardware. She also initiated some fundamental lab studies to investigate how aspects of her proposed sensor could work in the future,” said Shafer. She remains cautious about the commercial future of the device: “For commercial products, it’s important to establish technical feasibility, manufacturing feasibility, and a strong business case. As mentors we really focus on supporting the finalists in the early research phase of technical feasibility.”

Rao, on the other hand, has clear plans: “I hope to make it commercially available in the next year so that it’s in everybody’s hands.”


The information came from CNN.

I invite you to leave a link to a post about a remarkable woman, young woman, girl in the comments section.




After the very sad events that happened in the school shooting in Florida and watching the young students organizing their protests and working for change, I decided that this month I would like to honor the very young women who sacrificed and worked to make changes in the lives of the citizens of planet earth.  I came across the remarkable story of Sophie Scholl who has been quoted as saying:

“I’ll make no bargain with the Nazis.”

In 1942, anti-Nazi pamphlets titled “Flyers from the White Rose” began appearing overnight in public spaces around the Munich area. Thousands of leaflets distributed across Germany urged the German people to resist the Nazi system, openly denouncing the Führer (“Every word that comes from Hitler’s mouth is a lie!”) and boldly warning the regime: “We will not be silent. We are your bad conscience. The White Rose will not leave you in peace!”

The flyers attempted to encourage active opposition and dissent in a time when most German citizens seemed complacent or resigned to Hitler’s rule. Writing that “our present state is the dictatorship of evil”, one White Rose pamphlet asked:

Why do you allow these men who are in power to rob you step by step, openly and in secret, of one domain of your rights after another, until one day nothing at all will be left but a mechanized state system presided over by criminals? Is your spirit already so crushed by abuse that you forget it is your right — or rather, your moral duty — to eliminate this system?

This peaceful White Rose resistance movement — named after a symbol intended to represent purity and innocence in the face of evil — was founded, organized, and led by five German young people, including 20-year-old Munich University student Sophie Scholl.

As a teen, Sophie had initially joined the female wing of the Hitler Youth movement, the German Girls League, and even became a Squad Leader at the height of Hitler’s rise in 1935 — but it wasn’t long before she began to question and rebel. When her Jewish friends (already forbidden to join the League with her) began to disappear, and after being reprimanded for reading passages from a banned book by the Jewish writer Heinrich Heine to a group of younger girls, Sophie wrote in her diary of the deep depression she felt under the ‘nightmare’ of Nazi rule. In 1939, she went for a walk with her older sister, who said, “Hopefully there will be no war.” Sophie replied, “I hope there will be. Hopefully someone will stand up to Hitler.”

The outbreak of World War II came only a few months later, and Sophie’s boyfriend Fritz left to fight on the Eastern Front. His letters home, detailing war crimes carried out by German soldiers, were horrifying — and the more Sophie learned of Nazi atrocities in the East, the more her disillusionment and despair hardened into determination. After her father was arrested for speaking out against Hitler at his workplace, Sophie crept onto her university campus in the middle of the night to write “freedom” on the wall. Soon, an opportunity arose to channel her anger at the Nazi regime into organized, non-violent resistance: together with her brother Hans, she joined the White Rose, purchased an illegal typewriter, and threw herself into the writing and guerilla distribution of the pamphlets.

Sophie was arrested by the Gestapo in February 1943

It was while scattering the group’s sixth leaflet that Sophie and Hans were spotted by the campus janitor, who called the Gestapo on the Scholl siblings and held them until the secret police arrived. Under interrogation, Sophie was offered a reduced sentence if she would admit that her brother had led her astray. She refused, saying, “I won’t betray my brother or my principles. I’ll make no bargain with the Nazis.”

Appearing in court with a broken leg, Sophie faced her hearing with typical unflinching courage. “What we wrote and said is also believed by many others,” she proclaimed. “What does my death matter, if through us, thousands of people are awakened and stirred to action?”

The defendants were allowed no testimony, but Sophie’s sole statement during her trial is a testament to her fearless resolve: “Time and time again one hears it said that since we have been put into a conflicting world, we have to adapt to it. Oddly, this completely un-Christian idea is most often espoused by so-called Christians, of all people. How can we expect righteousness to prevail when there is hardly anyone who will give himself up to a righteous cause? I did the best that I could do for my nation. I therefore do not regret my conduct and will bear the consequences.”

Alongside Hans and their fellow White Rose member Cristoph Probst, Sophie was convicted of high treason and sentenced to execution by guillotine. Her indictment read:

She admits to having taken part in the preparing and distributing of leaflets. Together with her brother she drafted the text of the seditious ‘Leaflets of the Resistance in Germany’. In addition, she had a part in the purchasing of paper, envelopes and stencils, and together with her brother she actually prepared the duplicated copies of this leaflet. She put the prepared leaflets into various mailboxes, and she took part in the distribution of leaflets in Munich.

On the back of her copy of the indictment, Sophie wrote “freedom”.

Monument to the White Rose in front of the University of Munich

Before her beheading on February 22, 1943 —at the age of 21 years old — Sophie described a dream that she’d had the night before her trial. “It was a sunny day,” she recounted. “I was carrying a child, in a long white dress, to be christened. The path to the church led up a steep slope, but I held the child firmly. Then suddenly, a crevasse opened at my feet, gradually gaping wider and wider. I was able to put the child down safely before plunging into the abyss. The child is our idea. In spite of all obstacles, it will prevail.”

Today, the legacy of the White Rose movement lives on around the world as an enduring tribute to the moral courage of those willing to take a stand against any kind of tyranny, at any cost. Sophie and her fellow members of the White Rose resistance are remembered today as heroes in Germany — but the only surviving member, Franz Müller, says of his friends, “Hans and Sophie Scholl really did not want to be heroes. Friendship and freedom were the values most important to them.”

After the war — after the full extent of the Nazi atrocities became clear to all — Hitler’s personal secretary, Traudl Junge, recalled, “I was satisfied that I wasn’t personally to blame and that I hadn’t known about those things. I wasn’t aware of the extent. But one day I went past the memorial plaque which had been put up for Sophie Scholl, and I saw that she was born the same year as me, and she was executed the same year I started working for Hitler. And at that moment I actually sensed that it was no excuse to be young.”

As we look to history for lessons and inspiration, it is worth remembering the bravery of free-thinking, freedom-loving Sophie, and her refusal to look away or be silent.


The information came from Wikipedia.

I invite you to leave a link to a post about a remarkable woman, young woman, girl in the comments section.


On Friday, January 20, 2017, we lost one of the best First Ladies I have been privileged to watch.  She was an outstanding example of how to balance many different roles and be the very best at all of them.  The following is a love letter to Michelle Obama written by Rashida Jones.  It says it all.

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“I want to be remembered as a woman … who dared to be a catalyst of change.” — Shirley ChisholmI

Shirley Chisholm was our  first black U.S. Congresswoman.  Her body of work is a legacy that is sadly, for all American citizens , slowly being destroyed.

Shirley Anita St. Hill Chisholm was born November 30, 1924, in Brooklyn, New York to immigrant parents. When she was young, her parents sent her to Barbados to live with her maternal grandmother along with two of her sisters. She returned to the United States when she was 10 years old. In 1942, Shirley graduated from Brooklyn Girls’ High and went on to attend Brooklyn College where in 1946 she graduated cum laude. While in college, Shirley was on the debate team and her professors encouraged her to consider working in politics. In 1951, Shirley earned a master’s degree in early childhood education from Columbia University. She went on to become the director of a child care center and a consultant for the New York City Bureau of Child Welfare.During this time, Shirley had become more politically active joining organizations like the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), League of Women Voters, and the Brooklyn Chapter of the National Association of College Women. In 1964, she ran for the New York State Legislature and won. She was only the second African American. While working in the state legislature, she extended unemployment benefits and sponsored a program that would benefit disadvantaged students who wanted to attend college. In 1968, Shirley ran for a seat in Congress and won — making her the first black woman elected to the U.S. Congress. Her campaign slogan was “Unbought and Unbossed” which later became the title of her autobiography.

Once in the U.S. Congress, Shirley began working to expand the food stamps program in addition to a specific program to provide greater access to food for women and children who couldn’t afford it. She continued to fight for equality through introducing bills and eventually in her role on the Education and Labor Committee. Shirley had experienced racial and gender discrimination during her campaigns so she decided to hire all women to work in her office, half of them being black. In 1969, she was one of the original members of the Congressional Black Caucus and in 1971, she co-founded the National Women’s Political Caucus which to this day remains “a multi-partisan grassroots organization dedicated to increasing women’s participation in the political process.”
Shirley made history again when she sought the 1972 Democratic Party presidential nomination. She was the first African-American candidate to run for president in a major-party but wasn’t given a fair shot due to discrimination. Her campaign was underfunded and she wasn’t viewed as a serious candidate. Shirley also received numerous death threats during her campaign. But despite these odds, she still gained 10% of the total delegate votes at the convention placing her in fourth place overall.

After her failed presidential bid, Shirley continued her work in Congress succeeding in to give minimum wage rights to domestic workers and supporting an increase in spending for education, health care, and social services. She even gained a leadership role within the House as the Secretary of the House Democratic Caucus.
In 1983, Shirley retired from Congress but continued to support women in politics co-founding the National Political Congress of Black Women. She also became a professor at Mount Holyoke College teaching courses in politics and sociology in addition to speaking at campuses around the country about tolerance and acceptance. In 1993, Shirley was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame. Shirley Chisholm died January 1, 2005, at the age of 80.
After her death, a documentary film about her presidential campaign was accepted into the Sundance Film Festival and won a Peabody Award. At her alma mater Brooklyn College, the Shirley Chisholm Project on Brooklyn Women’s Activism is a historical collection of “Brooklyn Women’s Activism from 1945 to the Present.” And in 2015, she was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. With historical moments like the presidency of Barack Obama and nomination of Hillary Clinton, Shirley’s legacy lives on. Thank you, Shirley, for paving the way for those who have followed you.



The information for this post came from Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls.

If you have a post about an inspiring woman, please feel free to leave a link to it in the comment section.



This is my first post honoring women during Black History Month.  Please take a moment to get to know Septima who is considered the Grandmother of the Civil Rights Movement.

The Woman Who Schooled the Civil Rights Movement
Erin Blakemore
Feb 16, 2016

Who was the “queen mother” of the American Civil Rights movement? If you answered “Rosa Parks,” you’re wrong—a woman named Septima Poinsette Clark earned that moniker for her pioneering civil rights work years before Parks made her fateful ride. The daughter of a slave, Clark made her mark on the movement not in a bus or at a lunch counter, but in the classroom.

Born in Charleston, S.C., Clark was one of eight children. Her father, Peter Poinsette, was forced to serve as a messenger to Confederate troops as a young slave during the Civil War. After the war, he married Victoria, who grew up a free black in Haiti and resented her husband’s nonviolent attitude towards the racial repression of the postwar South. Both of them instilled their daughter with a love of education and made sacrifices on behalf of her schooling, so it made sense for Septima to become a teacher.

But when she got her teaching license, she realized she would not be able to teach any children—black or white—in her native Charleston. “Segregation was at its height,” she later recalled, and black teachers were barred from teaching any students in South Carolina’s capital. For a while, she taught on John’s Island outside of Charleston instead, but in 1919 she joined the NAACP and returned to her hometown. Emboldened, she went from door to door, collecting signatures of black parents who wanted their children educated by black teachers in Charleston schools. Eventually, two-thirds of the city’s black population signed the petition. A year later, Charleston’s ban on black teachers was overturned.

Clark could have settled into life as an elementary school teacher, but she kept pushing. Along with other NAACP members, she began to agitate for higher salaries for black teachers. It took her more than 20 years to help win equal pay for her colleagues, but in 1945 teacher pay was equalized.

As the NAACP began to rack up victories, pressure to declaw the organization mounted from whites who clung to the South’s Jim Crow policies. Clark was fired from her job in 1957 for refusing to renounce her membership in the NAACP under a law that forbade public employees to belong to the organization. At almost 60 years of age, Clark was ousted from the profession that was her vocation.
But Clark’s career was only just beginning. A few years before being fired, she had discovered a Tennessee school that featured integrated workshops on citizenship and civil rights. She began to teach literacy there, educating black students about citizenship laws and civil rights.

This commitment to educating her fellow black citizens came with a price: The state of Tennessee revoked the school’s charter, forcibly closed down its buildings and arrested teachers on bogus charges. Clark was accused of illegal alcohol possession and arrested, though the charges were later dropped. When she was released from jail, Clark was invited to continue her work in Georgia by none other than Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The “Citizenship School” model she started became a juggernaut. It helped fill educational gaps left by segregated school systems that made black students the last priority.

The classes Clark established schooled thousands of students in basic literacy and civil rights, producing savvy new voters and changing the course of the Civil Rights movement. Among her mentees was Rosa Parks, who openly admired her patience and courage.

Though Clark’s work took place in the background—and was often minimized by male leaders in the movement—the fight for racial equality in the United States simply would not have been the same without one teacher bent on making the most of her hard-won education. “The greatest evil in our country today is not racism, but ignorance,” Clark wrote in 1965. By bringing education to the struggle for civil rights, Clark fought both.



If you have a post about an inspiring woman, please feel free to leave a link to it in the comment section.