Throughout America’s history, innumerable women have steered the course of the nation with stories of steadfast grit and determination. From first reaching for the ballot box in 1920 to breaking barriers on both athletic grounds and the battlefields, American women have stood resolute in the face of adversity and overcome obstacles to realize their full measure of success.
During the month of March, Americans have the opportunity to celebrate Women’s History Month and to acknowledge the contributions of both notable and everyday women. This month’s theme is “Women Inspiring Innovation Through Imagination.”
During my LUV journey with Southwest Airlines, I’ve had the privilege to work alongside many remarkable women starting my adventure by greeting Customers with a smile from behind the El Paso ticket counter in 1984. In my current role as Senior Vice President of Customers, I am privileged to work with so many outstanding Employees—including a wonderful group of women who continue to find ways to make Southwest the most LUVed airline in the world.
As I think about Women’s History Month, one remarkable woman who comes to mind is Anne Frank. I loved to read as a child, and the Diary of Anne Frank always resonated with me because I was the same age as Anne when I first read her story. Anne’s story was so real to me—I felt like I could actually visualize what she was living through. My father's parents lived in Germany during that timeframe, and as I was reading the book, my Grandma Berkstresser (I affectionately called her Grandma Berky) lived with us. I lost a great uncle to the gas chambers, so I understood what it was like during that time and the impact it had on families (especially the children). Anne inspired me to never give up no matter what life hands you.
I also attribute who I am to another remarkable woman in my life. My greatest hero and mentor is my Mom. She taught me to treat others as I would want to be treated. She taught me grace under pressure and forgiveness. I just lost her two months ago, but I can still hear her voice, encouraging me and supporting me. Through the lessons I learned from my mother, I’m able to pass along insight and skills I’ve gained through experience—sharing it with other women I encounter.
I have had the honor of raising two incredible women myself. I’ve been forced to make tough choices over the years, but each of my daughters know that they are loved, and as they were growing up, I was doing all I could for them and our family.
This month, take a moment to thank all of the women in your life who have impacted you and molded you into the person you are today. I’ll be saying a special thank you to all the working mothers who are the true heroes day in and day out. Honoring these women who have helped shape our country is crucial, but so is writing the next chapter of Women’s History. Through teachers like my mother, we are able to show future young women that—in my own aviation terms—there are truly no obstacles that can block their ascent.