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Cokie Roberts at the Mount

On Wednesday, Jan. 27, President Ann McElaney-Johnson welcomed pioneering journalist Cokie Roberts to speak at the Chalon Campus of Mount Saint Mary's University. Roberts is an Emmy® award-winner, Broadcasting Hall of Fame inductee, and political commentator for ABC and NPR. She was also was named a "Living Legend" by the Library of Congress in 2008. Roberts opened with a motivating conversation about what it means to be an unstoppable woman, and the authenticity that word entails.

"What I love about that word -unstoppable- that describes this marvelous place, is that it conjures up exactly what we need from young women coming out of school or higher learning into our society…" Roberts said. "It is also necessary and we can't have a decent society without having Mount Saint Mary's University producing these unstoppable women."

Roberts noted that at MSMU, the value of determination and hard work is never overlooked and it is the challenges that individuals undergo that inspire them to be unstoppable. This word defines the Mount's founding Sisters of Saint Joseph of Carondelet (CSJs) and students. The word is synonymous with strength, purpose and diligence; the notion that ordinary people are capable of doing extraordinary things.  

During the conversation, Roberts took the sold-out crowd made up of guests, alums and students on a historical adventure where she shared her insights concerning powerful women and their contributions in early American history. Also, she particularly focused on the work of the CSJs. She told detailed anecdotes that highlighted the obstacles that defined many different aspects of women's lives throughout history such as, ostracism, oppression and taking on the role that was always expected of a woman in society, motherhood. She spoke on many present-day societal issues, along with two of the most dominant movements in our history, abolition and suffrage. Roberts reminded the audience of the horrendous conditions and sacrifices that were made for women's rights which led up to the successes and achievements like, being granted the right to vote, being able to obtain an education and becoming a proud woman in office.

"These women in our history were incredible, they soldiered on through those very difficult times because they knew what they were doing, they understood that their work was absolutely essential, and the CSJs joined them in that work and still continue today." Roberts said.

The tone of inspiration was set in Hannon Theater as the crowd was able to take a moment to not only listen, but to appreciate the progress that has been made in regards to women's rights for the overall status of women in the world.

The stories she shared with the audience, were the ones that ultimately led to change and influence in women's lives throughout centuries and some are ones that inspired Roberts to become the successful woman that she is today. Through her powerful storytelling, Roberts reiterated what it truly means to be, unstoppable, even during those challenging periods. She made it clear how that is now evident of women all over the country and emphasized how essential it is to "Number one, vote and number two, run." 

The conversation touched on the topic of education and presented how the growth of education works hand in hand with justice.  She elaborated on education and expressed how educating a woman anywhere is the key for the betterment of her life. Roberts presented data from the World Bank and said, "If you educate a girl, you keep a girl in school, you save a country." According to the World Bank, education is one of the most powerful instruments for reducing poverty and inequality and lays a foundation for sustained economic growth.

Cindy Carillo'16 was among the Mount Saint Mary's students who attended the event. 

"Today, Cokie Roberts inspired me to write more, prioritize social issues and to make more connections in my life. I have an education, I can make a difference, and whatever I aim for I can achieve" Carillo said.

Roberts concluded the event leaving Mount Saint Mary's University students with this:

"Take what you can of this fabulous education, know how to enact change and make it work."

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