Shades of Ebony held its second annual Celebration of Women Dinner, the culminating event of Women’s Week, on Thursday night in McKenna Hall. The event focused on the Women’s History Month theme “Character, Courage and Commitment” and featured three speakers and small-group discussions.The first speaker, freshman Grace Watkins, discussed her experience of sexual assault and subsequent activism, including her participation in the TEDx conference in January.“In my interactions with my peers following the [TED] conference, I received a wide range of reactions,” Watkins said. “Many of them were positive.“Unfortunately, however, some comments were wildly misinformed and insensitive, and it was in those reactions that I needed to remind myself of people’s humanity and my own humanity.”The second speaker was Frances Shavers, University President Fr. John Jenkins’s former chief of staff who resigned after debilitating pain seizures caused by trigeminal neuralgia prevented her from working. Shavers spoke about her disease, various attempts at treatment, consideration of suicide and courage in the face of pain and adversity.Emily McConville “Something will happen in your life, where you will be tested to be courageous,” Shavers said. “Where moving forward collides with running away, where our faith will meet our uncertainty, where our hope will meet our despondency, where our self-confidence will meet our self-despair.“On that bridge we have to respond. You have to respond. You must choose courage … to override our own internal doubts – perhaps the most damning – our own voice that says, I can’t.”The third speaker was Katie Washington, the first black valedictorian of Notre Dame who did medical research and service until her graduation in 2010 before entering a combined MD/PhD program at Johns Hopkins University. Washington referenced her own academic, professional and personal experiences in her talk.“Here’s my perspective: whatever you should commit to requires conscious reflection and self-examination,” Washington said. “Our commitment should come from a place of self-love.“It should also provide a love for others, especially those who appear unlovable by some criteria or certain standards. Ultimately the commitments that you choose are yours and yours alone.”The dinner was organized by Shades of Ebony and the Gender Relations Center and funded by a variety of clubs, residence halls, alumni clubs and individual alumnae.Sophomore Chizo Ekechukwu, diversity council representative and historian for Shades of Ebony, said the speakers exceeded her expectations.“Frances – I was in tears, and Katie is my inspiration because I want to be a doctor, so her being the first black valedictorian and her doing an MD/PhD program is something I aspire to do,” Ekechukwu said. “Grace, telling her story was so brave and courageous. The theme of character, courage and commitment was embodied throughout this whole dinner.”Christine Caron Gebhardt, director of the Gender Relations Center, said the event organizers were pleased with the outcome.“I think the speakers were wonderful in capturing what we were hoping for tonight, with the different ways in which women and men both past and present help shape the future,” Gebhardt said. “We had a very engaging discussion at our table, and other folks were really engaged.“Each year we’re hoping to build, and I think it’s becoming stronger. And it’s encouraging that our campus is really uplifting women.” Tags: Shades of Ebony, Women’s Week
My spiritual rebirth took place last week, in a mosque where the high-domed ceilings reverberated with a collective “amen” exhaled as if in meditation. It was preceded by a khutba (sermon) in which the imam called on the faithful to celebrate the blessing of three faiths united by the serendipitous confluence of the start of Ramadan, the arrival of Rosh Hashanah and the feast of St. Francis. Except the mosque was a church, and the imam was a reverend, and the congregants were singing hymns. A few days ahead of the start of Ramadan, I found myself racing to All Saints Church in Pasadena, to offer a Muslim prayer of peace to the congregation of Catholic worshippers gathered there. I was invited to participate in the Sunday Mass by Rev. Ed Bacon, whose sermon reflected on the “October surprise” that had wondrously presented the opportunity for us to each pray for the renewal of our souls, and to reassert our responsibility to spread the spirit of mercy to all people. Ramadan began last week, and I have to admit it has been difficult to muster my usual anticipation for its opportunity for self-purification. I have feared that I would not be able to find the solitude necessary to achieve its goal of self-reflection and self-renewal. I have feared that the incessant barrage of deprivation, conflict and fear in the world would drown out the quiet space inside me I seek to re-awaken. But as I sat in the pew at church, the organ of my heart was in need of a good tuning in order to find that perfect pitch of serenity so integral to hearing God’s message during these 30 reverent days. In the moment that the richly layered voice of the choir bounced off that high ceiling, I felt it pierce through my hardened heart. I did not expect that my preparation for Ramadan would take place in a church. Perhaps it happened this way because I have grown accustomed to the rituals of my own Muslim congregational prayers. I have stood and bowed reverently, expectantly waiting for the moment that my heart will burst open with new love and focus. Perhaps it happened in church because I was not expecting it, and that is why God delivered it from the altar in the form of a pastor who will be fasting alongside Muslims for the fourth time this year. Perhaps hearing the same message I hear in mosques weekly from a different messenger made me reminded me that we are, in fact, all the children of Adam striving for a better world. Muslims consider churches and synagogues, as well as mosques, to be houses of God. Perhaps if we take advantage of our overlapping seasons of reflection this year, and experience God together, we can do as another spiritual leader, Mahatma Gandhi, once extolled: “Be the change you want to see in the world.” Edina Lekovic is the communications director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREThe top 10 theme park moments of 2019 Following the hymns and the sermon, I rose to offer a prayer for our mutual enhanced understanding and to recall God’s promise, a promise which so badly needs to be amplified throughout the world at this perilous moment in human history. Wars cloaked in democracy wage on; huddled masses seek to rebuild their hurricane-ravaged lives; perpetrators of terror wield bombs dipped in their misinterpreted belief that nonbelievers are open prey; and Angelenos struggle just to breathe in the wildfire-induced haze of already smog-filled skies. Against this perilous backdrop, we need now more than ever to hear God’s eternal message: “Verily, those who have attained to faith in this divine writ as well as those who follow the Jewish faith and the Christians and the Sabians – all who believe in God and the Last Day and do righteous deeds – shall have their reward with their Lord; and no fear need they have, and neither shall they grieve” (Quran, 2:62). At that moment, a wave of peace washed over me as I gazed out at the congregation. Moments later, as I once again sat in the pew, one of the church leaders offering communion to the congregants paused when she saw my Jewish counterpart and me. Smiling broadly, she handed the silver tray to an associate as she said, “I have a prayer to offer for you both.” With one hand, she clasped my shoulder and with the other, Craig’s, and she held us three together while she asked God to bless our united journey. I barely heard her words, so focused was I on the energy I felt being transferred through the three of us – a white Jewish man, a black Catholic woman and a European Muslim woman. Tears filled my eyes when she concluded, and I think we all three felt God’s presence in our circle.
A day after the Punjab government announced that government employees would have to undergo a dope test as part of the anti-drug campaign, Aam Aadmi Party leaders on Thursday demanded that such tests be conducted on Ministers and legislators as well.AAP MLA Aman Arora gave blood samples for conducting a dope test at a government hospital in Mohali, saying that the party would support any constructive decision of the government to eradicate the drug menace. “It would have been better had [Chief Minister] Amarinder Singh himself led from the front and undergone a dope test along with his Cabinet colleagues and MLAs… a dope test should be made mandatory for all MLAs and MPs from the State,” said Mr. Arora.“It is unfortunate that Punjab is witnessing dark days due to the failure of successive governments to check the drug menace. Capt. Singh has also failed to eradicate the drug problem. During the poll campaign, he took an oath, holding the sacred ‘Gutka Sahib’ in his hands, that he would wipe out the drug menace in four weeks… but even after eighteen months in power the ground situation has not changed,” he added.The Punjab Chief Minister had on Wednesday ordered mandatory dope test on all government employees, including police personnel, from the time of their recruitment through every stage of their service. The Chief Secretary has been asked to work out the modalities and issue the necessary notification in this regard.“A dope test would be made mandatory for all recruitments as well as promotions to be made by the various Punjab government departments. Dope test would also be made a mandatory part of the annual medical examination of all civilian, police employees of the Punjab government, wherever prescribed,” an official spokesperson had said.Senior AAP leader H.S. Phoolka termed the government’s decision “good” and offered to undergo the dope test. “Ministers and MLAs are also public servants. They get salary from the government. They are also covered under this order. Ministers and MLAs should first give samples. I have asked Speaker and DC as to where I should report to give my sample for a dope test,” tweeted Mr. Phoolka.