The month of March includes several notable holidays: St. Patrick’s Day, Ash Wednesday, Persian New Year, International Women’s Day and birthdays for Pisces and Aries. The entire month of March is also Women’s History Month. Women’s History Month originally started as a one-week celebration back in 1981. Then in 1987, Congress officially proclaimed the entire month of March Women’s History Month.

In 1987, there were 23 women in Congress. Now, 31 years later in 2019, there are 127 women who hold a seat in the U.S. Congress. As a senior in college with hopes of becoming a breaking news reporter after graduation, seeing powerful women in leadership roles in Congress and within the media makes me feel like if I work hard enough, dream big enough and don’t let the rocky road ahead discourage me, I can achieve anything I set my mind to.

I do realize that my mindset of being able to achieve anything I want if I work hard enough wasn’t always the mindset of women who came before me. My mother who is 49 years old, a high school teacher and the first to graduate college in her family once wanted to be a National Geographic photographer but felt that her lack of self-confidence held her back from becoming that. My second cousin, also 49 and a teacher, said when she came to the age where she had to decide what she wanted to do, she automatically thought of her two choices — being a nurse or teacher, both being very stereotypical gender-role jobs.

My grandmother, Rose Damore, who is 96, and the third eldest of eight children, had to enter the workforce when she was just 12 years old after her father died. She would clean houses for wealthy families after school to help earn extra money for her mother and seven siblings. When she was a teenager she wanted to go to college but her family didn’t have the means, so she decided to go to beauty school to become a beautician.

“I always knew I wanted to go to beauty school because I liked to make people look nice, but if I wanted to get a job in government or engineering I never [thought] that was even a possibility,” Damore said. “If girls would talk about wanting to do those type of things during my time, people would say, ‘You can’t do that, that’s a man’s job.’”

Growing up, no one has ever told me I shouldn’t go into journalism because it is still currently a male-dominated industry. My sister, who is 18 and a freshman in college, is a political science student with hopes of becoming a political lawyer or campaign manager and has never felt like her gender would get in the way of her aspirations.

I am thankful for the women who came before me and broke glass ceilings, broke gender stereotypes and fought for women’s rights. 

I am thankful to live in a time where women are running for president, making decisions in Congress, covering breaking news stories, leading Fortune 500 companies and being badass mothers and wives all at the same time.

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