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Who are the powerful women in our lives who inspire us?

How did our female ancestors help us get where we are today?

These were some of the questions that the PAVE program explored as they created a new “zine,” Powerful Women in History.” CareerAbility staff and PAVE students wrote beautiful essays on the women in their lives who inspired them.. You can view the zine here: Powerful Women in History

The project was fun for all. Here are some comments from the authors:

“After writing about her, I feel more connected to my grandmother.” Jess

“Starting to write is always the hard part. Night Witches ‘ unique strategy of turning their obsolete planes into an asset hooked me on their story. After I found my place to start the story flowed from there.” Seth

“I was excited to write this story. It connected the personal experience to the historical legacy of women.” Sue

“By revisiting my aunt’s story I was able to see her in the larger historical context.” Alix

Here are some excerpts:

Jessica Lerman, PAVE student: wrote about The Great Golda Shlam:

“It all started in Poland in the year of 1941, Golda Shlam was born. At the age of five, she moved with her family to Germany. Who would have known that in three years her life would change for the better? In July of 1949 her family finally got to the United States after hearing about other family members who had come over. She was eight years old at the time. My grandma told me that they also landed at Ellis Island. She confessed that her biggest struggle was not speaking the language. All she knew was Yiddish. That did not stop her. Even though she was held back for a year she used her resilience and also having a great teacher that pushed her to learn the language she was able to do it. She was able to speak in English pretty well the end of the year. I even learned from her that at the time there were three reading groups in school. She went from the last reading group which meant you didn’t do that well to being in the best one. It is amazing,”

Gloria Cabellero

Sarah Elsdon: “One of the most impactful women in my life was my long-time babysitter, Gloria Caballero. She is one of the strongest, compassionate, loving and resilient people I’ve ever met. Gloria immigrated to the United States from Columbia with her husband and two daughters, and started a home daycare from scratch. No matter who you were, she welcomed you into her home with open arms and always took care of people”

Danielle Chiaraluce: “During Women’s History Month, I would like to recognize my grandmother, Angeline. Her parents, my great grandparents, immigrated to the United States from Italy. When my grandmother was a young woman, she worked in the steel mill in Pennsylvania. These jobs were traditionally left open only to men, but when the men left to fight in World War II, women were called in to become defense workers in factories. During the war, at least five million women worked in the nation’s mills and factories. My grandmother worked in the mills in the production area of the steel plant. She helped to make pipes and other war materials. At this time, my grandmother made no more than 56 cents an hour. She proudly did this job after living through the Great Depression where she and her family went through very hard times and so she was very proud to be able to contribute her wages to the family as they tried hard to rebound from this economic crisis.”

The Night Witches

Seth Light, the Night Witches:It wasn’t that long ago in the United States, and many other nations of the world, that women were treated both by society and by the law as inferior to men. Until 2013, our military had a policy of ‘no women in units tasked with direct combat’. Other countries, however, were much quicker to make this change. In fact, in 1941, a Major in the Soviet military by the name of Marina Raskova personally petitioned Joseph Stalin to allow her to form female combat units, and was granted the authority to deploy three women’s air-force units. One of these three was the 588th Night Bomber Regiment, also known as the Night Witches.”

Rebecca Pagan

Joe Granito:Rebecca Pagan is a Cuban born naturalized citizen of the United States. In the 1960s, Rebecca fled Cuba with her mother and younger brother to escape the brutality that was being unleashed upon the Cuban people by Fidel Castro. She resided with extended family in Spain for two years before coming to America. When Rebecca was 11 years old, she attended PS 211 in Brooklyn and could not speak a word of English.”

Alix Hunter, “My Aunt Carol: In her youth my aunt Carol was a tennis player. My dad tells me stories of driving around the country to watch her tournaments. In college, Carol played on the men’s tennis team because at the time there were only men’s sports. She went on to play in the US Open. After her own successful career as a player, Carol started coaching at the Heights Casino in Brooklyn, NY where she met my uncle, another squash coach. Along with my uncle, Carol passed on her skills to a new generation of squash players. She coached number one players and created a dynamic program at the Heights Casino. After she left, they honored her by naming a tournament after her. This tournament still goes on today.”


Sue’s grandmother

Sue Snowden: My Swedish Momor: “My Swedish momor (grandmother) Mildred Johannsen Anderson, was a vibrant, fun loving woman who loved travelling to many countries of the world and was an adventurer for life. These experiences were not things that I knew firsthand from a personal connection to her but rather communicated to me by my siblings as I never had the chance to meet her in person. As I learned more about her interesting life through conversations and stories it all becomes so vivid.”

Fantastic job by all!