I Am Woman discussion panel spotlights empowerment

San Jacinto College North Campus’s Office of Student Life invited Dr. Pamela Campbell, the College’s Vice Chancellor of Educational Partnerships, to be part of the I Am Woman Panel & Discussion March 19.

Three other women, Port of Houston Commissioner Janiece M. Longoria, State Senator Sylvia R. Garcia, and the Center for the Healing of Racism’s Dr. Cherry Steinwender joined Campbell as participating panelists.

“It was good for everyone in the audience, regardless of gender, to hear the panel speak about their experiences and to offer bits of wisdom and guidance gained from life situations,” Campbell said.

While the panel was one of several events commemorating Women’s History Month, Campbell said their message is not solely for females. “It is important for all people to feel empowered,” she said

“Women need to accept the responsibility for leadership in their individual worlds,” Campbell said. “We need to find our voices and respond to issues and situations that we feel need change. We can be role models for both genders as caring, knowledgeable women of integrity.”

According to Campbell, “human empowerment” is omnipresent and not restricted to a certain age, gender, or type of employment.

“Young children who stand up for each other and reject the actions of a bully understand human empowerment,” Campbell said. “Parents, who work long hours to give their children opportunities they did not have, understand human empowerment.”

Although the women who spoke at the conference are in high-level positions, Dr. Campbell said any woman is able to embody empowerment.

“I can tell you that there are plenty of extraordinary women all around you. They don’t have to be an elected leader, an activist, or a college administrator,” Campbell said. “They are people who make the most of every minute they have on this earth.”

Furthermore, Campbell stressed many factors outside of an individual’s background are key in determining his or her life’s path.

“Socioeconomic status does not constrain your future, and that you are the one who can decide what you do with your experiences,” Campbell said.

She added, significant determinants include, “the value of education, the strength that’s within each individual, the need for a connection with others, the role of a champion for supporting change in our world.”

Moreover, Campbell said media campaigns to promote equal treatment of all the world’s peoples support the empowerment cause.

“High-profile campaigns can be very helpful. For example, some of the anti-bullying campaigns have brought attention to the plight of young people who do not fit a certain profile,” Campbell said. “If it deals with elevating the dignity of all people, then I am in agreement.”

Meanwhile, Campbell said she felt “very honored to be on the panel” among very accomplished women.

“The other three speakers are very high-profile local or state officials, and one is a nationally-respected advocate for the elimination of racism,” Campbell said.

The sentiment was shared by fellow panelist Garcia who tweeted the same day, “honored to participate in a panel at San Jacinto N College with distinguished panel celebrating Women’s History Month.”