Women and Education

By Agnes Chiao

Senior Director of Neighborhood Initiatives and Innovation

Recently, UWSL’s Women’s Philanthropic Network attended a presentation by Susan Madsen from Utah Valley University. Her research, Utah Women and Education Project (http://www.uvu.edu/wep/), explored why more young women around the state are not attending and graduating college. Through her research, that included approximately 245 participants, she found that only 20% believed they could use their degrees to teach their children and/or be positive examples to them.

I have the amazing opportunity to work with many incredibly talented and inspiring women – all with varying education experiences and backgrounds. Mayor Cherie Wood from South Salt Lake is one of these exceptional women and her story reminded me of the research that we heard from Susan Madsen. Mayor Wood’s story of triumph against many odds and her determination to succeed was recently captured by Yahoo Shine in this brief video.

Mayor Wood started working for South Salt Lake as a cashier when she was 19. “When positions would open, I’d apply for them,” she says. “Then I realized I got to a point where I needed to go back to school if I wanted to continue to move up.” She earned her bachelors degree from The University of Phoenix at night, raising her kids and working for the city during the day. When she decided to run for Mayor of South Salt Lake, Wood shares, “My opposition was saying that I should be home with my kids. So, I wrote a letter to all the women voters in South Salt Lake and said, ‘You know, I’ve always been a working mom, and because of my situation I will always have to be a working mom, and my kids are my number one priority. … But I know that I can prioritize my daily schedule and still be a really effective mayor’.”

Mayor Wood has a clear idea of what she wants to accomplish as Mayor and how to revitalize South Salt Lake. The partnerships here are forged in the belief that communities can and will transform and that we all must do whatever it takes to get there. It truly is an honor to work with Mayor Wood and all the partners in the City of South Salt Lake.

(photo courtesy of Deseret News)

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