Shero.us, an organization honoring extraordinary women, honored Dr. Maya Angelou as the “Shero” of the month on Wednesday April 11 at the University of Utah Department of Film & Media Art Auditorium.
The purpose of this event was to honor women who have overcome obstacles in their lives. Due to illness, Angelou was not in attendance at the event. She instead submitted a video of her reciting her poem And Still I Rise.
“We all are presented with and overcome obstacles every day,” said Becky Swanson, one of the speakers at the event. “This event began with Dr. Angelou and has moved forward because of the efforts put forth by women here tonight who would make Dr. Angelou proud.”
Women Overcoming Obstacles
Members of different women’s organizations went to work to salvage the event in Angelou’s absence. They hosted an evening of Who’s WOO (Women Overcoming Obstacles) and invited several prominent guest speakers to talk about obstacles they overcame.
Four speakers took the stage and talked about ways they have overcome obstacles in their own life. Rene Johnson, Becky Swanson, Bridget Cook and Rebecca Musser all shared stories of hardship, trials and triumphs.
“My personal journey has required me to find great belief in myself over and over,” said Johnson “Every time I stepped away from comfort and into fear I grew, I developed, I fulfilled my purpose, I found my power. It wasn’t easy but it’s possible.”
Johnson is a Power Zone Coach and author who spoke on how she overcame and triumphed over domestic violence, found her voice and is now helping other women find their voice.
“Obstacles as vehicles to new destinations”
“What is an obstacle,” asked Swanson during her speech. “It is a thing that blocks ones way, it hinders your progress, and it’s a barrier, a stumbling block. Although not initially, I now view my obstacles as vehicles to new destinations.”
Swanson is currently Mrs. Wasatch Front, and she uses her platform to talk about various issues. She spoke of the heartbreak of losing her teenage daughter and how she has used her trials and her voice as Mrs. Wasatch Front to help others.
“Amazing things happen and part of it is when you realize that this obstacle you have been trying to overcome is actually that which makes you stronger,” said Cook. “We were born to overcome obstacles and when you choose to, the things that have got you down, the things that have brought you the lowest contain the seeds of your greatest glory.”
Cook, an author, speaker, business owner and life coach shared with the audience how she overcame her own trials and now seeks out women to tell their stories of courage and power.
“What have you been telling yourself that you cannot do that you were destined to become,” asked Musser. “When you live your life by truth you become open to possibilities.”
Musser was the evening’s highlighted guest speaker as she was one of the wives of Rulon Jeffs, father of Warren Jeffs, and spoke on how she was able to escape and testify against the polygamist leader. As Jeffs had once outlawed wearing the color red, Musser adorned a red dress as an expression of her freedom.
“We are here tonight to celebrate women overcoming obstacles as Dr. Angelou said over and over again,” said Celeste Gleave, founder of Shero.us and coordinator of this event. “All of our speakers tonight have overcome an obstacle and have moved on to become fantastic people.”
The founder of Shero.us, Gleave was was appointed an honorary three star position working with the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon. She was a civic leader and bridge between the USAF and the Civilian community. When she left that position she wanted to contribute and help women achieve success in the business world as she saw that women are a small minority in high positions of power.
Shero.us was one of the sponsors of the Miss Representation screening at the Grand Theater last month. They are looking for stories of inspiring women and hosts events honoring women serving in the military.