Cheyney University Blog

A Good Woman

March 02, 2012

Several years ago, someone gave me a plaque that stated “A Good Woman.”  While I was extremely appreciative, I find myself wondering often—What is a “good woman,” and what should I be doing to maintain my status as one?
When I think of the good women in my life, my thoughts drift to my mother—the first good woman I knew.  She was the one who worked the night shift, so that she could be there for her children.  Mom was also the person who made sure we looked good for Easter, special occasions, and proms, and she would frequently stay up all night designing and sewing our dresses, gowns, and finery for those special occasions.  To me, she is still the ultimate good woman.
Also, when I think of good women, I think about all the women who helped me when I needed guidance—when I needed a friend.  One of my first encounters with a good woman was with a friend of mine named Rosalind.  She is ten years older than I , and she used the wisdom of her experience to guide me in a gentle, loving, and anecdotal manner.   Whenever I had a problem, and there have been a few, she would be there to sit by me, to ask good questions, and to help me probe and analyze my thoughts and motivations.  The lessons I learned with my conversations with Rosalind I carry with me today.   We might not talk for six months, but whenever I need her, she’s there.  We resume our conversation as though we had just talked yesterday.  Rosalind is the good woman I carry with me to remember to “do the right thing.”
When I think of good women, I cannot help but marvel at the good women of the past who we think of rarely, but we benefit from their courage, persistence, and vision of what  could be.  One of those good women for me is Fannie Jackson Coppin—the first African American woman principal.   Her excellent portrait, created by another good woman, Laura Wheeling Waring, hangs on the wall in my office.   Every time I look at the portrait of this woman, I  thank her for her example of what a good woman can be, and I thank her for her excellent legacy. Ms. Jackson Coppin died nearly 100 years ago, but her spirit still lives through her works and the legacy she created at the Institute of Colored Youth¬¬--the legacy we are continuing to build at Cheyney University.
When I think of a good woman, I think too of my friend, Kathy.  She has supported her family of four for about 15 years with faith, a smile, and a very positive attitude.  Kathy once worked for me at Chicago State University, and she was a definite dynamo.   I have to admit, I marvel at the personal strength, spiritual tenacity, and the optimism of this woman who has worked two jobs to support her family, and she has done it all with courtesy and consideration for others.  Kathy is the good woman I wish I could be.
Most of all, when I think of a good woman, I hope I am being a good woman for my daughter and all the other young women who need a friend, a sage, and a role model.  I hope that I am demonstrating the courage, the integrity, the excellence, and dedication to improving the well-being of others that it takes to inspire them to become good women.  When I talk to students here at Cheyney University, I realize how truly important it is for me to be a good woman for them.  I pray that, with my example to encourage them, they too will become good women for the next generation. 
I must end with, it has helped to have a good man by my side for over 25 years!
Michelle Howard-Vital, Ph.D.


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