A little over one hundred years ago, the Spanish flu, or 1918 flu pandemic, started on its path to infect about one third of the world’s population, making it one of the deadliest pandemics in human history. Today we are battling a new virus, COVID-19, which has made an incredibly negative impact on our health and society. Social distancing has become the new norm and for some, unfortunately, a very depressing way of life.
On Aug. 18, 1920, one hundred years ago, the words “the right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged … on account of sex” were added to the U. S. Constitution. Today, women have the vote, but still face obstacles for equality.
Ten years ago a little girl completed second grade in my classroom at Mosherville School and was ready to start third grade. Today, that little girl has grown into a young woman with goals and dreams that women 100 years ago would not even have imagined.
Alicia Purcell, even as a seven-year-old second grader, had a positive attitude toward learning and the world around her. I still remember her intelligence; her love of science; and especially what a great reader and writer she was at the age of seven. I knew that girl was going to go far!
That positive attitude stayed with her through high school. As a senior faced with the coronavirus pandemic, she didn’t let it stand in her way.
“In the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak, I have found peace with myself and ways to work on things I never knew needed working on until now,” said Purcell.
She added, “It’s odd because everyone says the seniors of 2020 were gypped, but I see this as a blessing in disguise. We are moving on into adulthood and to do so, must work on our maturity and ourselves. This has amplified my doing so. I am thankful for the time I have had with myself to relax and analyze.”
Now that she has graduated from high school, Purcell is off to Lycoming College and the next step in achieving her goal.
“I am ecstatic for more schooling,” said Purcell, adding, “I will be here for four years majoring in astrophysics. I will then move on into a bigger institution to begin another four years of schooling.”
“My Ph.D. will be a key factor in obtaining a high-level job that will challenge me. I always like a challenge, especially when it comes to the brain. NASA is the end goal, as it is for most budding astrophysicists, but I will travel worldwide to see my options.”
As her former teacher, I can’t take all the credit for where Purcell is today. Her parents are very supportive of her and proud of her. They realize she is a very special daughter. According to her mom, Purcell is a beautiful person inside and out, who cares about her friends and is always there when they need her. She is smart, intelligent and funny.
Today, we have come a long way in dealing with the changes that have occurred since 100 years ago. In 1920 the women who marched and fought for their rights did it not only for the vote, but so that women of the future, like Purcell, would be able to use their intelligence and drive to its fullest potential to make a difference in our world, and not be blocked by stereotypes of the past.
“There are great minds everywhere; not just in America,” said Alicia Purcell. “I will meet them and together, we will change the world.”