HSU Celebrates Women

March 31, 2021 Jaidyn Kamplain, Staff Writer

With women among the first graduates of Hardin-Simmons, the University has strived to become an educational space where women feel heard and valued. Women fill crucial roles across campus, whether it is leading a student organization or working behind the scenes on staff. This year, roughly 14 student-led organizations are led by females.

To celebrate Women’s History Month, organizations such as Greek Life, Academic Advising, and the Social Work Club hosted numerous events to highlight the importance of reflecting on the history of women. Mary Burke, Special Collections Manager of Richardson Library, produced a blog post covering notable women in Hardin-Simmons’ history.

In her blog, she provided many examples of notable women, including Grace and Jesse Watanabe, Japanese-American sisters who attended Hardin-Simmons during World War II. Following President Roosevelt’s issue of Executive Order 9066, which allowed for the relocation of roughly 120,000 people to internment camps across the country, their family was forced from their home in Los Angeles to a camp in Arizona. Grace and Jesse’s father, a 1919 graduate of Simmons College, wrote to the college asking if they could attend on scholarship. The offer was accepted, and the sisters excelled in their academics while attending Hardin-Simmons University.

Other notable women in HSU’s history include Mildred Paxton, a female student who co-founded The Brand and served as the first editor. The Brand is still published today. Lucile Sandefer, a first lady of HSU, and the women of The Round Table were savvy businesswomen who built and sustained an on-campus greenhouse to raise money while filling a much-needed industry in town.

Burke had this to say about women in West Texas history,  “We have this dichotomy of two stereotypical types of women. We have the more traditional, Christian view because of our location in West Texas and the Bible Belt and a more independent view because of the strength and will of Pioneering Women. Instead of these characteristics canceling each other out (the meek Christian housewife vs. the independent and resilient Pioneering Woman), they combined to create a type of superwoman. A combination of characteristics: strong faith and strong will. Today, the women of this area and our school continue to be founders of new ideas like the pioneering women before them. They are tough and create their own paths, all while holding tight to their faith.”

Many examples of innovative women exist all over campus, whether they are students or employees of HSU. Women can not only participate in things they are passionate about, but are also given opportunities to lead in those spheres. One example is Elizabeth Waters, Student Body President and Gamma Beta Phi President.

“Considering our vice presidents, deans, and other leadership positions across campus, you will find that females make up a large majority of them,” shared Elizabeth. “I have been greatly encouraged by the women on our campus who devote themselves to supporting other women leaders like myself and who desire nothing but the best for us.”

Thank you to the women here at HSU who continue to be examples of leaders to future generations, intelligent contributors to higher education, and catalysts for positive changes in our world.