Reflections on My Public Education

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Contribution to Book



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Women on the Role of Public Higher Education

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My few memories of kindergarten include being told to take a nap, learning how to write the number “5,” and being introduced to the concept of injustice. As with most Catholic elementary schools, on the first Wednesday of the month, we would go to church for mass and the priest would often come to the school afterwards. The Sisters of St. Joseph—a Catholic religious order of nuns focused on education and helping the poor—ran the elementary school. Many of the sisters who taught at the school, including my teacher, lived in a convent next to the school and shared an old, beat-up, blue car. Meanwhile, the priest lived by himself in the large rectory across the street and next to the church. He also drove a really nice Cadillac. Confused by this disparity, I asked my teacher why she became a nun instead of a priest. I clearly remember her telling me that only men could become priests because Jesus was a man. It simply did not seem fair; that logic puzzled me. It was the first time that I consciously remember being bothered by the fact that people were treated differently for seemingly minor reasons that they could not help, such as the color of their skin or gender; and I could not understand why people allowed this to happen.


"Reflections on My Public Education" in Women on the Role of Public Higher Education. Eds. Deborah S. Gambs and Rose M. Kim. New York: Palgrave-MacMillan 2015: 73-88. DOI.