Women’s History Month Celebrated at Samuel Merritt University

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L. to R., At the book table during the lunch break: Allen Temple church historian Rev. Dr. Martha Taylor, Assistant Pastor Jaqueline Thompson, Dr. DeGruy’s niece Ayesha, Dr. Joy DeGruy, and her husband. Photo by Sue Taylor.

Dr. Joy DeGruy was the keynote speaker for “Supporting Women Caregivers, Women Serving Vulnerable Communities,” a one-day symposium  held at Samuel Merritt University in Oakland last Sunday.

DeGruy, the acclaimed author of “Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome” made a key point when she stated that women want to work at “being able not to have to arrest their authentic self.”

She spoke of “learning how to move through the storm, rolling with the waves and how to struggle well.”

“Love the hard people,” she said, and accompanied that with the instruction to take care of oneself and each other, a fitting message for Women’s History Month, a message that resonated with this multi-generational audience.

The 400-seat auditorium was full of those who serve the community, each other, or who may be interested in serving and learning more about improving the world around them.

Shirley Strong, Chief Diversity Officer of Samuel Merritt University in Oakland, welcomed this reporter to a one-day symposium entitled “Would you like to talk with some of our students?”

What followed was an encouraging conversation with students who assisted with the event: Angelique Turner from Oakland in her last semester, Fikir Melese from Ethiopia in her first semester, Ebony Veresaci from Trinidad, and Adriana U. Carey, the first in her Bay Area family to attend college.

Angelique Turner said her main interest is community health and wellness, “is to be the beginning of change.”

All students echoed that same commitment to community, which is to help with whatever is needed in regards to, “clothing, vouchers, shelters, and referrals to services,” for the community.

Students i stated that they are working hard in a variety of degree programs to be able to do just that.

The Allen Temple Women’s Chorus opened with song, and set the tone for the day, with women’s voices rising together.

Rafiki Coalition Executive Director Dr. Monique LeSarre facilitated and conducted fellowship and wellness exercises with the assembled body. LeSarre announced at the beginning of the event that the “Intention for the day is peace.”

 At the close of the event, the book table buzzed, as attendees discussed the fellowship already blooming between them from the morning session, with many including Dr. DeGruy in that fellowship.

Allen Temple Baptist Church Assistant Pastor Rev. Dr. Jacqueline Thompson and church historian Rev. Dr. Martha Taylor greeted DeGruy, and Pastor Thompson substituted in the afternoon session for Reverend Tracy Blackmon, Executive Minister of Justice and Wellness who was unable to attend.

Samuel Merritt University has campuses in Oakland, Sacramento, and San Mateo.

For more information on programs and special events, call 510-879-9200.

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