Educated, Classy, Formidable: Women of the Salesian Community

Salvatore Bonasia ’22

Women’s empowerment can be defined in many different ways in society today, but it is more commonly referenced within the workforce. The empowerment of women encompasses the normalization of females becoming avid monumental figures in big businesses, allowing them to grow and thrive more in any corporation whilst holding esteemed positions. Women are notorious for being subject to constriction and oppression in the workforce, relating to the standard of The Glass Ceiling. This expression is the result of corporations prohibiting women from being promoted to managing positions or anything higher than base-line jobs. In our world today, we now see countless women reaching new heights and opportunities that no woman before has achieved. Howard University Alumni, Kamala Harris ‘86, is the first woman ever to be sworn into a position of executive leadership in the United States making it clear in her election speech

“…I may be the first woman in this office, I will not be the last.”

Kamala Harris
49th Vice President of the United States

This is what we call, “breaking the glass ceiling”. 

In our Salesian Community, there are countless women on the staff and faculty that are vital to the success of the school and are adored by all of the students. These women have all exhibited an incredible amount of courageousness and integrity, and they truly know what it means to be fearless. When asked what being fearless meant to them, they all had distinct responses, which Ms. Blandino encapsulates best:

“In my opinion, to be fearless is to completely go for something without worrying about the outcome whether it may or may not go as planned. But to say that you still tried your best and that’s ok too. Fearlessness can be grouped into so many different categories despite it being such a concrete word. It means without having fear….but that can be fear of different things.”

Ms. Blandino

We all have fears of our own, but it’s our job to manage them regardless of your gender, and that’s how we can make ourselves known and stand out from the rest of our colleagues. Women have been deprived from showcasing their full potential for years. However, in this new decade we can see a brighter future with both women and men working in unison leading us out of this pandemic. For women, or even anyone, to leave their mark, Mrs. Ramondelli remarks emphasizes that honesty with oneself is most important because that is what brings out the best in us.

“Be true to yourself, trust your instincts and do not be afraid to challenge yourself”

Mrs. Ramondelli

Society is constantly evolving , from athletics, to leadership, and even fashion, little by little women have been climbing the social ladder. Only less than a century ago Rebecca Felton, the first woman to be elected as a senator, took the oath to become the Senator of Georgia. After her induction into the Senate, she set precedent for women to be able to sustain a role in, and have a voice in government. Mrs. Francis brings up a very important point when asked what she thinks the workforce would look like in the next five years.

“I expect the workplace to change in the next five years to allow more leadership roles to not just be available to women but to begin to be the norm. I expect that a woman’s opinions, decisions, and ideas will be heard and respected especially now that we have a woman holding the second most powerful seat in our government, vice president of the United States of America.”

Mrs. Francis

The interviewees express similar views about their expectations of seeing more women in general working jobs that you’d see men usually working, and that within the next few years more female voices will be heard.

Women are abolishing the stigma of what society has pictured the workforce to be. Their strides have proven their adamancy to the principle fact that gender does not limit what a woman can do or the influence they can have. Fearless means pushing yourself to be whoever you want to be even when the tides are against you. This is what women embody today. When asked if they could do it all over again, our faculty and staff members liked where life brought them and wouldn’t change their aspiration whether it be an educator, counselor, or even nurse. They all chased after what they wanted and are doing a fantastic job at doing it. It is this kind of motivation and drive that make them all the strong independent women that they are today.

“Working in a school puts you in a special position to help shape students’ lives and give back to others, which is more rewarding than I could have ever imagined when choosing this career”

Mrs. Gabriel

The interviewees expressed that giving back and shaping their student’s lives comes first, and collectively they describe that one of the greatest feelings is witnessing their students enter profound colleges with innumerable opportunities. Interestingly, Mrs. Bastone first career preference was in medical field, and she’d still go for it again because as she says:

“Somehow, I feel that being a teacher found me… since I wasn’t looking for it at all! I truly enjoy what I do – teaching others, and I always learn things from my students, as well.”

Mrs. Bastone

When pursuing life and trying to achieve multiple endeavors, we instinctively look for others who have lived through similar experiences that we can identify with, and look up to. Advice, when given correctly, could be one of the best gifts you ever receive especially during our teenage and adult life years. Advice can be given in all kinds of ways, and everyone is entitled to their respective opinion based on experience. In order to get the best advice, it is important that one finds an esteemed and trustworthy individual. 

Over the years, Our faculty has been given amazing pieces of advice that has kept them motivated during peril times. These motivating pieces can be applicable to the salesian community as we all try to adapt to online learning. Mrs. Correale captivates the interviewees messages with her response:

“One of the best pieces of advice I have received was to work hard at being your very best and others will repay the benefits of what you have achieved. Also, never stop seeking out ways to grow as a person which will allow you to have perspective on many different levels. Lastly, to keep it real!”

Mrs. Correale

She even adds one of her personal favorite quotes from Amanda Rosen which is, “Your only limit is you- Be brave and fearless” which is a model for all of us aspirers to incorporate in our daily lives. We all have role models in our lives, some of them may be our parents, or people who have already succeeded greatly in what you want to do. Over the last few decades female role models have been on the rise in aspects of society such as, sports, theater, medical, education, and politics to name a few. Some famous female role models we see are Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Ellen DeGenres, and even Simone Biles. These women chased after their dreams in a vivacious manner, cementing their legacies as some of the most influential and inspiring women to date.

When asked who their role models were, the interviewees mentioned their mothers and close friends as the biggest role model. Mother is probably the most highly regarded title any woman could have. The job of working towards providing for a family and setting proper examples for one’s kids, is a job that never ends. Mothers are the most hard working women you can find and they do it all. When a daughter looks up to her mother, or any kind of close friend or relative aspiring to be like them, they’re already heading in the right direction. The interviewees are living testimonies to that fact.

Mrs. Francis refers to her mother as:

“…the driving force to my success… always encouraging me, supporting me, and praying for me in my career choices,”

Mrs. Francis on her Mother.

Mrs. Cioce references Mrs. Gabriel as her role model and adds:

“She has taught me the obvious logistics and day to day responsibilities of the job, but more so she continues to be a great reminder of the special compassion and grace that is required to be a great counselor.”

Mrs. Cioce

Regardless of who you looked up to whether it be a parent or a colleague, if you have each other’s back you’ll never truly fail, just stumble a little, but they’ll be there to pick you back up.

There are little girls everywhere who aspire to be like someone and it’s how that person exemplifies their worth and is able to motivate that little girl to chase her dreams that essentially makes them a great role model. The interviewees were asked what advice they would give to that little girl, and each staff member had a special thing to say:

“Be reflective, patient and trust your instincts!”

Mrs. Gabriel

“to always be themselves even when it may seem like it isn’t the norm. Don’t be afraid to be different, different is good. And most importantly, always do the things that YOU love and have a passion for.”

Ms. Blandino

This is inspiration for all women who are afraid to go against the norms of society and need to break that barrier.

“I would encourage little girls to not be in the background but to make herself visible in the world. Be open to learn of the many opportunities that could be available and not to let any obstacles stand in her way.”

Mrs. Correale

“I would tell her to be confident in your abilities and your intelligence, and know your worth. Do not allow others to diminish your spirit or sense of purpose and direction. Be persistent in doing what you feel is the right thing to do. Go out of your way to help make someone else’s day a little better or easier when you can. Make sure you have a good support system to lean on and turn to for advice. Don’t get too discouraged if you mess up, and instead focus on learning and growing from those obstacles in order to become better for the future. Above all, remember that God’s got you and that’s all you need!”

Mrs. Cioce

Mrs. Francis expounds…

“I would let her know that she must get a good education, and apply it to something that she loves and something that she is good at and then reach for the sky in that field. Work hard, stay determined, surround yourself with like minded individuals, and when things seem to get difficult, have faith that God has not taken you to such great heights to leave you so never give up and remember that all things are possible!”

Mrs. Francis

“Never stop learning to be better at what you do! This is a lifelong process… and an enjoyable one!”

Mrs. Bastone

“If you can combine your vocation with your avocation, then you have found the perfect career… Go out and work for it because it will be that much more rewarding in the end.”

Mrs. Ramondelli

It is seen all throughout the world that when women work together and have each other’s back, great things happen. A message from Mrs. Blandino concludes to all young women out there who need the reminder:

“Women can make their mark by being fearless and showing passion despite what may go against the aspect of being “lady-like.” Keep it classy, but keep it real.”

Ms. Blandino

SR~Dailey