Role Models

July 28, 2010

Southern W.Va. women serve as true role models for younger generation

Bluefield Daily Telegraph

Part of my morning routine, whether I’m in the office or not, is taking a look at all of the major news sites to see what is going on in this wide world of ours. Usually, I glance over the major headlines unless something strikes my fancy. Last week, one headline caught my attention, but for all the wrong reasons.

The headline read: “Why Brittney Spears is a Good Role Model for Lindsay Lohan.” I will not say which news outlet dared put this headline, but I found it safe to say they don’t know the definition of the word “role model.”

Just to make sure, I looked up the word in my beloved American Heritage Dictionary to see role model is defined as “A person who serves as an example of the values, attitudes, and behaviors associated with a role.”

This only confirmed to me that the writer of the offending news headline and even more offending news article should probably consult their own dictionaries just for clarity. There aren’t many young celebrities out there who should be cast as a role model for anyone.

I would say that a girl’s first role model comes close to home, perhaps a mother, sister, grandmother or aunt whom she wants to emulate. As I grew up, my role models became more about the type of person I wanted to be. I idolized journalists like Christiane Amanpour and writers like J.K. Rowling or Jane Austen.

In our celebrity-obsessed culture, it worries me that younger girls, for example my little sister, might not have the healthiest of role models to look up to. Even though they don’t always make headlines, there are still many women out there who are worthy of the title of “role model.”

While working for the Bluefield Daily Telegraph, I have had great opportunities to meet real women who should serve as role models for the young women of today, women who I certainly respect and look up to after learning the stories of their extraordinary lives.

One of the first was Claire Mickelsen, a woman who served with the Lady Marines during World War II. In addition to seeing her uniform for her days in the service, I also got to speak with her about what it was like as a woman in the military during a time when it wasn’t as common for girls to sign up alongside the boys.

Mrs. Mickelsen worked her way up through the ranks and did her duty for her country. Once she was out of the Marines, she went on to get her master’s degree and traveled around the United States as well as lived in Iran before the hostage crises of 1979.

The thing more amazing than Mrs. Mickelsen’s life story was her sense of duty to her country and her feeling that anyone in her place would have done the same thing. Claire Mickelsen is a true role model for not only her hard work ethic and sense of patriotic duty, but her charisma and the strength it must have taken to help keep the country running when America was in the midst of one of the worst wars in history.

Another amazing woman I had the chance to meet was Beulah Ann Bailey,…read more

Mary Ann Merritt
WMA National PRO