MARCH 2012 – WOMEN'S HISTORY MONTH
In celebration of Women's History Month, Ashford University/University of the Rockies is taking a look at women whose lives, as well as those around them, were empowered through their persistence, intelligence, and commitment to education.
Louise Arner Boyd (1887 –1972)
View the above video of silent footage filmed in 1928 of one of Louise Arner
Boy's expeditions to the Arctic Circle.
Although she was born in 1887, it wasn’t until 1924 that Louise Arner Boyd visited the place that the remainder of her life would be dedicated to – the Arctic Circle. It was in that year that Boyd took her first trip there aboard a cruise ship and fell in love with the desolate landscape. Within a few years, she had chartered a ship to satisfy her desire for further exploration. Boyd soon became famous for her intrepid spirit and for being the first woman to visit Franz Josef Land, an archipelago just 600 miles south of the North Pole.
While in the Arctic, Boyd spent much time searching for the famed fellow Arctic explorer Roald Amundsen, who had gone missing. Although Amundsen was never found, Boyd’s rescue efforts did not go unappreciated, and she was knighted by the King of Norway for her courage in her search for Amundsen.
Boyd spent much of the next two decades in her beloved north; she even helped the U.S. Army set up communications in Greenland during World War II. However, it wasn’t until 1955 that Boyd realized her dream of crossing the North Pole. At the age of 67, in what was her first private flight, Boyd became the first person to make the trip to the northernmost point on the planet, a feat that makes her level of dedication truly inspiring (“Louise Arner Boyd,” 2009).
Boyd’s work paved the way for subsequent female explorers to make their own history in the Arctic. In 2001, Liv Arnesen and Ann Bancroft became the first two women to traverse Antarctica.
Lady Deborah Moody (1586-1659)
Left: An artist's depiction of New Amsterdam, the colonial settlement founded by Lady Deborah Moody that eventually become New York.
Deborah Moody was born in London in the year 1586 to a well-to-do family. She grew up to marry a wealthy landowner, Henry Moody, who was eventually knighted, giving her the title of Lady. It wasn’t until her husband’s death that Moody began the journey that distinguished her as a free-willed woman of great strength and character.
Once widowed, Moody crossed the Atlantic to start a new life in the colonies and gain freedom from the stifling religious atmosphere of London at the time. Moody had an independent spirit and did not want to compromise her beliefs or values for the comfort of others. Though she’d hoped to find the spiritual freedom that she so longed for in New England, she was excommunicated from the Massachusetts Bay colony not long after she arrived because of a dissension with John Winthrop. If Moody was disheartened by this turn of events, it was certainly not reflected in her actions. Moody soon led a small group with similar beliefs to settle in New Amsterdam (modern day New York). This feat made her the first, and ultimately the only, female to found a colonial settlement in the new world (“History of American,” 2007).
Katharine Lee Bates (1859-1929)
View the above video of a rousing rendition of the song "America the Beautiful," which was adapted from
a poem by Katherine Lee Bates.
Whether they know it or not, many people are familiar with the major contribution Katharine Lee Bates made to our country: the lyrics of the song “America the Beautiful.” However, few are aware of Bates’ devotion to education.
Despite the death of her father when she was only a month old, Bates was afforded a college education due to the support of her brothers and received a Bachelor’s degree from Wellesley College in 1880. Gifted with words and harboring a natural inclination to poetry and prose, Bates was published in the Atlantic Monthly as a college student and believed firmly in the power of literature. Her faith in the written word became most evident when Bates had one of her poems published after an inspirational train trip to Colorado Springs (which, of course, happens to be the modern-day location of University of the Rockies). This poem, “America the Beautiful,” soon became nationally recognized and eventually adapted into the song we know today, turning Katharine Bates into a national treasure. In 1915, Bates helped found the New England Poetry Club, embracing her love of all things literature until her death in 1929 (Lewis, n.d.).
In a world where so many people believe that gender equality should be a given, it is sometimes easy to forget the many seemingly insurmountable obstacles that women have faced throughout history. The fact that women were able to not only live, but thrive, under such circumstances is truly astounding. The women above believed in their education and empowerment and refused to let societal norms rob them of their sense of purpose. May you draw inspiration from their stories, and think of their lives as examples of the persistence of the human spirit.
ASHFORD UNIVERSITY ALUMNUS SPOTLIGHT – MICHELLE DAHLUM
Bachelor of Arts in Health Care Studies, 2011
Ashford alumnus Michelle Dahlum, a 30-year-old mom from Los Angeles, CA, is talkative and bubbly as she shares her story. “My Ashford experience is opening doors left and right for me. I have had the chance to meet so many wonderful life-changing people at Ashford online and on campus.”
From her upbeat personality, you would never guess that she has overcome significant odds to get to where she is today. But her tone becomes serious as she says, “I want my children to hear my voice and to see my accomplishments in spite of the cycles of violence, living in fear, and my being told I was worthless. I am a stronger woman today because I refused to submit to being a victim.”
Michelle got married shortly after graduating from high school. She was enrolled at the local community college to earn her Associate’s degree, but it soon became clear that her new husband wasn’t very happy about his wife continuing her education. Unfortunately, his unsupportive attitude was a hint of the verbal and physical domestic abuse to come, which escalated until Michelle eventually had to leave in the middle of the night with their three kids in tow. “It’s uncomfortable for me to talk about,” she admits, “but this issue changed my life and motivated me to be strong and pursue the hope of making lives better for those who have been victimized.”
After leaving her abusive marriage, Michelle found herself with a newfound sense of purpose – and the courage to enroll in Ashford University’s Bachelor of Arts in Health Care Studies program. She credits her original Admissions Counselor, Matthew Hawkins, for making the enrollment process easier. “Going to school with three children was not easy, but I did it, and I did it well,” she says proudly. She admits that she was usually one of the first in her classes to post on discussion boards and submit her papers. “Okay, call me a nerd, but I liked all my courses and subjects! While I was at Ashford University, I was an honors student with membership in the Alpha Sigma Lambda honor society and the Golden Key International Honour Society, and I graduated Summa Cum Laude.” She also notes that she enjoyed her frequent phone conversations with Ashford’s Lead Student Development Specialist Vanessa Schoenherr, adding, “She knows me by voice!”
Michelle took the opportunity to attend the commencement ceremony for online students at the campus in Clinton, IA. “Everybody was so kind and warm at the graduation that I will never forget a few faces,” she says. “One especially great moment was meeting University Provost Dr. Wardlow at all three honor society events I attended. She told me, ‘You are an inspiration.’ Wow, I couldn’t speak for a second – and for me not to talk! She took my breath away.”
As she stood proudly in her cap and gown with her fellow Ashford graduates, the significance of having gone from running away in the night to the momentous day at which she had arrived didn’t escape Michelle. “It was a moment for me to hear my internal voice rooting for every battered woman out there breaking the cycle of domestic violence.”
Today, Michelle is earning two Master’s degrees, one in business and one in public health, at an Illinois-based university, with the goal of teaching online for Ashford herself one day, as well as working with women who find themselves in the position she once was in. “I think there is greater need for more stringent public health programs to educate people about intimate partner violence,” says Michelle. “I intend to use my degrees to help foster awareness of these issues by developing plans to educate community organizations, hospital staff, individuals, college students, and all who will listen.” With the courage and tenacity Michelle has shown, it’s likely that her voice will be heard.
History of American Women. (November 25, 2007). Retrieved on February 13 2012 from
Lewis, J. (n.d.). Katharine Lee Bates. Retrieved on February 13, 2012 from
Louise Arner Boyd. (June 11, 2009). Retrieved on February 13, 2012 from
MacGregor, M. (n.d.). History of National Women’s History Month. Retrieved on February 13, 2012 from