March 2013

PAWs - Promoting Awareness and Wellness

Ashford University is proud to show you our PAWs. That is, our Promoting Awareness and Wellness initiative! Every month, we'll highlight different causes and opportunities that reflect the values of the University. You'll also learn ways that you can participate or be more involved.


Take the time to explore history's many examples of women who have greatly impacted our society.

In 1987, Congress declared March National Women’s History Month in an effort to recognize, honor, and celebrate the achievements of women. Prior to the declaration made by Congress, several states had adopted this observance and began to use March as a platform to highlight the achievements of women throughout history. Sonoma County, CA offers a great example. The community began celebrating Women’s History Week to introduce women’s history into the K-12 classroom. In addition to special classroom presentations, a “Real Woman” essay contest and a weekend parade took place during the week-long celebration. Looking at this year’s National Women’s History Month, the designated theme is “Women Inspiring Innovation Through Imagination: Celebrating Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.”

Famous Firsts

During the late 19th century, women’s rights were evolving, and many historic advances for women took place. Throughout the world, women were celebrating firsts. Some of the changes included women’s suffrage, equal pay for equal work, and reproductive rights. The 20th century continued to bring noteworthy firsts, such as:

  • 1921 - Edith Wharton became the first woman to win a Pulitzer Prize for her novel The Age of Innocence. Her novel is set in both New York and Paris and speaks to social change that took place in post-World War I Europe.
  • 1925 - Nellie Tayloe Ross became the first woman to serve as governor of a state, in Wyoming.
  • 1926 - Gertrude Ederle became the first woman to swim across the English Channel at the age of 20. She had already competed in the 1924 Olympic Games in Paris and won multiple medals.
  • 1934 - Lettie Pate Whitehead became the first American woman to serve on the board of directors of a major corporation, The Coca-Cola Company. The Lettie Pate Whitehead scholarship program was later created to support deserving young women in their pursuit of higher education.
  • 1970 - Diane Crump became the first female jockey to ride in the Kentucky Derby on her horse, Bridle n Bit. Crump was a mere 20 years old!
  • 1981 - Sandra Day O’Connor became the first female appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court. She was appointed by President Reagan, and she served for 25 years before retiring in 2006.
  • 1983 - Sally Ride is the first American woman to be sent to space and flew aboard the Space Shuttle Challenger. At age 31, Ride was also the youngest person to travel to space with NASA.

Flash Forward: Women Making History Today!

Every year, the White House hosts a science fair for young students who have taken a special interest in engineering and science. Below is a video clip from the most recent White House science fair. The inventions and experiments showcased illustrate the creativity and imagination possessed by young women around America and some products we may see reach the market in the coming years.

Women of Influence

Women continue to make enormous contributions to the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. The following women have had a profound impact on their companies, organizations, and communities. Their inspirational stories are just a few examples of how women are making a change in our country.

Marissa Mayer

Very few women occupy prominent roles in Silicon Valley, and the technology industry in general. In July 2012, Marissa Mayer was appointed Chief Executive Officer of Yahoo!, making her one of only 20 women to head a Fortune 500 company. As the youngest CEO to head a Fortune 500 company (Mayer is 37), she is ranked fourteenth on Fortune’s list of America’s most powerful businesswomen (Fortune, 2012). With undergraduate and graduate degrees in computer science from Stanford, the successful CEO has years of experience and fine-tuned skills surrounding layout and design. An innovative engineer and self-proclaimed “geek,” Mayer joined Yahoo! after working for Google for over ten years. As Google’s first female employee, Mayer is credited for developing products including Gmail, Google News, and Google maps. Yahoo! brought Mayer to their team in hopes of re-energizing their brand following several years of fiscal decline. (Gustin, 2012).

The video below highlights Mayer’s time at Google, as well as what she brings to the table in her challenging role at Yahoo!.

Kim de Groh

As a materials research engineer at NASA’s Glenn Research Center, Kim de Groh researches how well materials hold up in the space environment. As a student in the College of Engineering at Michigan State University, de Groh earned both undergraduate and graduate degrees and completed a summer internship at NASA Glenn, the research center responsible for designing and testing new space technology. As an innovative engineer, de Groh has worked on numerous projects aimed at advancing space exploration, including the Hubble Space Telescope Program and International Space Station flight experiments. Currently, de Groh heads the project Materials International Space Station Experiment-X (MISSE-X). The project is located in an external facility where researchers conduct flight tests to make sure that new materials are ready for space. These tests determine what future projects will take place in space and are an integral aspect of NASA’s research and development efforts.

In 2009, de Groh was inducted into the Ohio Women’s Hall of Fame for her technical contributions and her student mentoring outreach efforts. De Groh says that the most rewarding aspect of her job is seeing her work go into outer space, and she enjoys presenting her research to colleagues in the field of engineering. Something de Groh encourages her students to keep in mind is: “If you are confident in your abilities, others will be, too” (Meet a NASA Glenn Employee, n.d.).

Patricia Bath

Patricia Bath was born in Harlem in 1942, and from a young age, had a natural gift when it came to science. This tendency could have been the result of her mother buying her a chemistry set at a young age, or it could have been because her father was such an adamant supporter of education. Whatever the reason, this gift dramatically changed the outcome of Patricia’s life, and ultimately, the way the whole world thought about vision.

In high school, Bath showed a particular aptitude for biology, and became the editor of her school’s science paper. She won numerous awards for her passion and was eventually chosen to participate in a program hosted by the National Science Foundation. It was then that she began to receive national recognition for her genius. Bath was able to create a mathematical equation that could accurately predict cancer cell growth. Her finding was presented at an international conference, and Bath won the 1960 merit award from Mademoiselle magazine.

After finishing high school in just two and a half years, Bath earned degrees in both chemistry and physics; she then went to medical school at Howard University. She finished her MD and began studying ophthalmology, where she would ultimately make her greatest contributions. Bath noticed that the blindness rate among African American patients was much higher than in other populations. She recognized that this fact was because of lack of ophthalmic care. Dr. Bath established the discipline of Community Ophthalmology, a holistic approach to community eye health that uses both preventive and curative approaches to solving vision problems in communities.

Bath then went on to achieve a number of historic firsts in the world of medicine. She became the first African American resident at NYU, the first African American woman surgeon at the UCLA Medical Center, and the first woman faculty member at the UCLA Jules Stein Eye Institute. She also co-founded the American Institute for the Prevention of Blindness.

In 1981, Dr. Bath created something that would make her more famous than all of her previous achievements. The Laserphaco Probe uses a laser to destroy cataracts during surgeries and was years ahead of its time. The Laserphaco is now used all over the world.

From her humanitarian efforts to her list of firsts to her creative genius, Dr. Patricia Bath is truly a woman who changed the way we see the world. (Laserphaco Probe, 2005.)

Looking to the Future

With advances in science and technology at the hands of women unfolding steadily, it is clear that the future is bright! Creative, capable, and inspiring women surround us. While March is a time of year when we celebrate women, we encourage you to consider this question throughout the year: “What women do you know who inspire you?”

Ashford University Alumni Spotlight - Cara Harmon
Bachelor of Arts in Public Relations and Marketing, 2012

Cara Harmon is excited for the future. A recent graduate of Ashford University campus, this 21-year-old Davenport, IA resident hopes to use her Bachelor’s degree in Public Relations and Marketing to one day open her own bed and breakfast. “Even in my personal life I feel that I am a stronger individual because of the experiences I had at Ashford.”

When Cara received a scholarship to play softball at Ashford, she learned more about the University and knew she couldn’t turn it down. “The people here and the atmosphere was exactly what I was looking for. I knew right away that this was going to be the place for me.”

In addition to playing softball for two years, Cara was involved in many different organizations while at Ashford, including the Ping Pong Association, Hall Council, Phi Beta Lambda, and Student Government Association. “I needed to make a difference. I focused on student government, and started to move up with different positions each year.” With a strong support system behind her, Cara ran for Student Body President her junior year and won. “I had a lot of guidance from Ashford faculty and staff members. Without these people I wouldn’t have been able to experience what I did during my college years.”

In addition to meeting many wonderful people, Cara believes the personal style of teaching as well as the opportunities that Ashford provided truly made Cara’s experience a special one. “I have been able to go to Washington, DC to speak to congressmen and senators on behalf of Ashford, because of my leadership, I have been named among the Emerging Women Leaders at our local women’s connection organization, and I have been on the Dean’s List every semester, as well as received scholarships to pay for school.”

Cara is currently focused on gaining as much experience as possible in the hotel industry in order to help ensure her dream of one day owning her own bed and breakfast. With that goal in mind and armed with her Ashford degree, she secured a job at a highly rated hotel in Davenport, IA called the Blackhawk Hotel, and is loving every minute of it.

Reflecting on her time at Ashford, Cara says she “wouldn’t trade coming to Ashford for anything. I truly believe everything happens for a reason. I was meant to come here and meet all of the people that I did. Ashford has blessed me with the greatest four years of my life.”


Famous firsts by American women. Retrieved November 5, 2012, from

Gustin, S. (2012). The ten most influential women in technology. Time. Retrieved October 30, 2012, from

History of National Women’s History Month. Retrieved October 30, 2012, from

Laserphaco Probe (2005). Retrieved March 11, 2013, from

Meet a NASA Glenn Employee: Kim de Groh. Retrieved February 28, 2013, from