Black Women Share Career Experiences (Originally Published in the Charlatan Newspaper)

In Culture, Writing (all kinds) on November 22, 2016 at 3:00 AM

Nov. 6 presented a rare opportunity for five black women professionals to share their personal experiences, success strategies and encouragement with Carleton’s black community.

“It’s good to see someone there in the image of yourself succeeding,” said Kathy Wilkinson, a member of Perspectives.

Perspectives, an African women’s interest group at Carleton, host the career night, where a panel of five black women professionals talked about their experience. Four of the women are Carleton alumni and one is the only black female faculty member on the tenure track at Carleton.

Each woman had a different message to give the audience of more than 30 people in the Senate lounge.

Bernice Moreau is a lecturer in social work at Carleton. Moreau said black woman are strong and they were feminists long before the word was known. Moreau said she knows about strength from her own personal experience, which she shared with the audience.

“As a student (at Dalhousie University) I had to fight sexual harassment from professors because I was seen as exotic,” Moreau said.

It has been a constant struggle in Moreau’s life to let people know that she can be right. She said being the only black female faculty member does not give her any support system for her ideas.

“From 1946 to 1992 I’ve had to prove myself,” said Moreau.

Dawn Armstrong is a graduate of political science at Carleton. Armstrong works at the Canadian International Development Agency.

Armstrong said she keeps herself in tune with future career trends and updates skills she needs for her job, such as learning French. She says achieving your potential takes strategy.

“I became really empowered because I had a lot of things that my colleagues didn’t have. I had knowledge,” said Armstrong.

Armstrong said she has been passed up for jobs that have gone to white people.

“I’ve never let myself get defeated,” said Armstrong.

Jackie Lawrence, Marva Major-Cosper and Sylmadel Coke were the other panelists. Lawrence works with New Democratic MP Howard McCurdy and with Beyond Black Magazine.

Major-Cosper is a high school teacher. Coke started an immigrant abuse shelter in Toronto and works with Interval House, an abuse shelter in Ottawa.

The Women’s Centre, the Funds Allocation Board and the International Students’ Centre co-sponsored the event.

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