Women’s History Month: ‘Rise so others will rise’

Story and photos by Brandon O’Connor Assistant Editor

March 28th, 2019 | In Focus, News
 The U.S. Military Academy celebrated Women's History Month and honored the Women of West Point past, present and future with a luncheon March 20 at the West Point Club. The luncheon featured guest speaker Lobna Ismail , president of Connecting Cultures LLC. She is pictured after her talk with Class of 2019 Cadets Morgan Aiken, Sean Hurley and Marina Camacho.

The U.S. Military Academy honored West Point women of the past, present and future during its annual Women’s History Month observance March 20.
The observance was part of a monthly series hosted by West Point’s Office Diversity, Inclusion and Equal Opportunity and featured a talk by Lobna Ismail, the founder and president of Connecting Cultures LLC.
Prior to Ismail’s talk, the women who have helped shape the history of West Point and continue to do so were recognized and honored.
They included the women in the Class of 1980, which was the first to include female cadets, Lt. Gen. Nadja West, a member of USMA Class of 1982 and the first female graduate to reach the rank of lieutenant general, and Capts. Kristen Griest and Shaye Haver, the first women to graduate from Ranger School.
During her remarks, Ismail encouraged the current female cadets at West Point to follow in the footsteps of those who came before and “Rise so others will rise,” by following their example.
“Rising may seem like a personal and individual pursuit, but how you do it is what will matter. Life is not a sprint. It is a relay race, one that has begun long before you were born and will continue long after you,” Ismail said. “Our value to ourselves, the ones around us and the world is not determined by your successes or achievements along with way. All of us are going to face setbacks over the course of our lives.
“Our greatest value comes from how high we will rise when we are struggling in those moments,” she added.
Ismail is a frequent speaker to federal and state institutions as well as private companies and non-profits as she works to build relationships and develop communication between people of different cultures, with a particular focus on Islamic awareness and inclusion.
While her talk was centered on women rising up and continuing to pass the baton, she also called on men to play their own role by giving women promotions and enabling them to have not only a seat at the table, but a chance to lead.
“Women, you rise because of Andrea Hollen, Nadja West and the other hundreds of women before you,” Ismail said. “Men, women today and beyond will rise because of how well you rise as their allies to break through the barriers of stereotypes, to break through the barriers of prejudice, sexism and harassment. We need you men to be allies.”
The next monthly observance will take place April 10 at the West Point Club in honor of LGBTQ inclusion.