Women’s History Month spans throughout March and gives recognition to the women who helped shape and build today’s America and its surrounding countries. From Susan B. Anthony, a pioneer for women’s voting rights, to Ella Baker, a backbone of the Civil Rights Movement, women have been and continue to be changemakers for a better society.
At Rollins, it is no different. Rollins’ women showcase charisma, passion, and fight, all while being scholars in unique ways. The Sandspur chose nine inspirational women across all offices and majors on campus. However, while these faces are spotlighted as important parts of campus, they are just a fraction of the women making a difference on our campus every day.
Dr. Margaret A. McLaren teaches Philosophy and Sexuality, Women’s and Gender Studies (SWAG) as the George D. and Harriet W. Cornell Chair of Philosophy at Rollins. She has served as SWAG (formerly Women’s Studies) coordinator for much of her time at Rollins.
She began her tenure track position at Rollins in 1992 and was awarded her chair position in 2004 on the basis of her research. Her areas of specialization include 20th century French philosophy, transnational feminism, and social and political philosophy, among others.
She is the author of Feminism, Foucault and Embodied Subjectivity (SUNY Press, 2002).
I honestly believe that if each of us follow our hearts, and live in the world with intelligence and compassion we can work together to solve issues such as poverty, social marginalization, and conflict
Ms. Mae McNeal
Miss Mae has been working at Rollins for 17 years. According to her, she continues to stay be- cause she loves working with the students and her coworkers. “I just love my job and everybody here,” she said.
Miss Mae reminds all young women and students to
“stay positive and follow your dreams.”
Jen Herr finished her master’s degree and became the Assistant Director of Accessibility Services before she turned 25. In the summer of 2015, she started her internship with Disability Services at Rollins. After, she was a Graduate Assistant, Testing Coordinator, and Office Coordinator before becoming the Assistant Director in what is now called the Office of Accessibility Services.
At Rollins, she is also the Staff Co-Chair of the Diversity Council and the Staff Advisor of Spectrum. She said she truly wants to transform each part of campus that she is a part of into the best it can be. “I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished and I really can’t wait to see what else is to come!” she said.
Don’t get caught up in who you think others want you to be. Be you. Make friends that make you laugh uncontrollably. Make friends that you feel like you can talk to all day about anything. Find opportunities on campus to get involved and have fun outside of all the school work you have so you can have some balance in life- I promise, it’s just as important.
Morgan Laner ‘18 is at the head of the student movement for sustainability at Rollins. She is president of EcoRollins, the student led environmental club on campus, where she has facilitated a plethora of club meetings and events for the campus, as well as working with Dining Services to provide zero-waste reusable tableware sets to the Rollins community. She is the lead student coordinator for the Rollins Sustainability Program, the school’s official office for all things environmental. There, she has led multiple initiatives with the goal of reducing waste in the college’s recycling system. She was also the mind behind the C-Store’s transition from plastic to reusable bags. In 2017, she interned for PLAN, the Post Landfill Action Network, where she conducted extensive research on best practices for zero-waste programs on college campuses. She is currently researching her thesis on environmental attitudes and behaviors on the Rollins campus.
Rollins really does have tons of opportunities to be a leader; the trick is, you just have to look for them and reach out to staff and faculty across campus. My first two years at Rollins I did not think I would be a leader, I just thought I would serve in a minor position of some executive board and that was it. But there are so many supportive upperclassmen and staff who WANT you to push out of your comfort zone and try for more. I came back from studying abroad and decided I was going to just go for it. Rollins wants to support and develop leaders, so just find your zone and go for it! You can do it!
Ashley Reed ‘18 is studying social entrepreneurship with a minor in Spanish. She is a Residential Assistant, as well as a work study in the Admissions Office. She said Res. Life is one of her favorite departments because, “I love being a source of help for my residents and making sure their first year of college starts off well!”
She said her favorite thing about Rollins is their push for community engagement and service; she loves that Rollins offers classes that get students out into the community and volunteering.
As of right now, she does not have any plans set in stone for after post-grad. There are many passions that she would like to pursue, with one being joining the Peace Corps within the next five years.
It is easy for women to feel inferior in this society so it’s important to stay confident and know your self worth. I would also tell young women to continue to support and advocate for women and their successes.
SJ Renfroe ‘18 is a Rollins community leader and Alfond scholar studying anthropology. At Rollins and beyond, SJ has worked tirelessly to help migrant communities through her research and community service.
She is currently researching her thesis on gender and migration in the US. In 2017, she conducted a cross-cultural study on women and migration in Florida and Barcelona with Dr. Rachel Newcomb. They have since presented their findings at academic conferences. She is working to produce a documentary entitled “Faces of Florida DREAMers,” interviewing local DACA recipients. When complete, she will show this documentary at surrounding colleges and facilitate a series of empathy-building conversations. She is also an intern for Mi Familia Vota, where she directs an environmental awareness and advocacy program for local high school students. In her volunteer work, she has assisted the Farmworker Association of Florida and the Hope CommUnity Center in Apopka; both organizations focus primarily on social justice for migrant communities. Last year, she led the student body in a push to keep Olin library as a primarily student-oriented space.
Women at Rollins: connect with each other! My greatest strength at Rollins has been connecting with other women and building a network of powerful, inspirational people to keep me going in the right direction. It is difficult to work with these topics ~ compassion fatigue is a thing ~ but this world is full of joy and strength. Find it in the women around you, and recycle love and power.
Micki Meyer serves as the Lord family assistant vice president for student affairs & community at Rollins. Meyer oversees areas of campus that work directly with leadership education, social innovation, civic and community engagement, service-learning, diversity and inclusion, student involvement, and college access.
Over the past 17 years, Meyer has worked closely with faculty, staff, students, and community partners to make purposeful connections between the campus and community.
Over the years, Micki has been the recipient of honors and recognition for her work. In 2017, Micki was honored with the Thomas E. Gamble Service Legacy Award, and in 2008 she was awarded the Community Engagement Educator Award for Independent Colleges and Universities (both by Florida Campus Compact).
Also in 2017, Micki was identified as a Winter Park Influential by Winter Park Magazine and named one of Orlando’s 40 Under 40 by the Orlando Business Journal. During her career, Micki has been engaged throughout Winter Park and Orlando and currently serves as a board member for the Downtown Orlando YMCA Healthy Central Florida Winter Park Board.
Accomplishments aside, Micki said that her greatest work in life is the role of mother (to 6 yr old James) and wife (to David).
Women are courageous and fierce! Live authentically, passionately, and lead with love. Hold equal space for intellect and intuition. This is your power.
Caroline Chomanics, Holt student, is an Environmental Studies and Sustainable Urbanism major. She is the manager of the Orlando branch of Fleet Farming, a bike-powered urban agriculture produce which seeks to transform environmentally detrimental lawns into sustainable farmlettes. There, she is at the forefront of Orlando’s local food movement. Through her work with Fleet Farming, she has helped provide the community with fresh, hyper-local produce while reducing the carbon footprint of our meals. This past year, she oversaw the opening of a Fleet Farming branch in Parramore, providing fresh produce to one of Orlando’s underprivileged communities for the first time. In addition to this, she and Fleet Farming worked with Orlando City Soccer and the City of Orlando to open the Parramore Farmers Market.
In addition to her work with Fleet Farming, she works at Nehrling Gardens in Gotha as a caretaker, tour guide, Plant I.D. Database Supervisor, Social Media Manager, and Horticulture Specialist. She also teaches gardening and ecology at The Living School Orlando.
Planet Earth cannot wait for change. Whether it is campaigning for no straws, starting a compost pile, volunteering at the Rollins College Urban Farm, or mobilizing friends for a beach clean-up, we need to act now. Community service can be a therapeutic way for you to gain confidence, become a leader, and make a noticeable change in the world.
Gabbie Buendia is an advocate for social justice and sustainability in the Rollins community. She is a Work Study employee for the Lucy Cross Center for Women and Their Allies. She is also a Sustainability Coordinator for Rollins Sustainability where she facilitates the office’s “EcoRep” peer-to-peer recycling education program.
Additionally, she is Co-President of Meetings for Voices for Women. Through her work with Rollins’ EMBARK program, she has helped students from underrepresented populations find their place in our community. Off campus, she is an active member of the Orange county Audubon Society, where she represents a new generation of conservation leaders.
As Twitter user @chickpeapatty once said, “I am the amalgamation of every single girl I’ve ever thought was cool.” If you’re looking for inspiration, look to your friends and support network here at Rollins! Community is so important and no one ever really makes an impact on their own.