Twenty years ago this May, I shook Gloria Steinem’s hand. She was the commencement keynote speaker at a small college where I was interim writing center director at the time. Steinem opened her keynote with the admission that she was “a self-proclaimed commencement junkie,” and she proved it afterwards by leading the recessional then standing in line to shake hands with everyone in attendance — not only students and faculty, but also family members and guests. I had only a moment in which to express my thanks before the momentum of the line nudged me forward, but it felt rewarding to tell Steinem in person how much her long career in journalism, activism, human rights, and education had made it possible for me to be doing what I was doing, and still am doing today. My list of women to admire has since grown — women whose work has made a profound and concrete difference in how I view the world and how I access it — but the list always includes Steinem for her intellectual curiosity and personal generosity. On International Women’s Day, to whom will you pay tribute?
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