“Behind every great man is a great woman.” Or so the saying goes. But what is behind every great woman? In my experience, more great women.
March is Women’s History Month, where we celebrate all the wonderful women who came before us. We celebrate the ones who helped pave the way for us, the ones we should admire and look up to including Eleanor Roosevelt, Harriet Tubman, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Amelia Earhart, Rosie the Riveter, Sally Ride, Maya Angelou, Rosa Parks, Marie Curie, and Joan of Arc – the list is endless.
This got me thinking about all the wonderful women I have in my life, the ones who helped shape and guide me into the woman I am today – my mom, grandma, aunts, countless cousins, friends, and even my daughters. Those are, without question, the ones who have impacted me most in my life. But which women do I attribute to being the most influential when it comes to my career? Two women are first and foremost in my mind when this question is asked of me.
First, my predecessor, Pat Holder. I started at a law firm as a nervous and excited 16-year-old kid still in high school as a file clerk, and she was the lead paralegal for the firm. When I first met Pat, I was in awe. I wanted to be her when I grew up. She seemed to know everything, be able to answer all of the questions, and was the “go to” when something went wrong and needed fixing. She was the one you went to for advice – on legal or personal matters, it did not matter. She was there. And much to my surprise, she was willing to teach me everything she knew. She believed I would one day take over for her and be that person for others. I soaked up any information I could get from her, anything she was willing to part with. She was a plethora of rules, procedures, forms, and experiences. There was nothing I could come to her with that she had not already seen, done, and taken care of. I believe wholeheartedly that there was or will never be someone better to learn from. I even attribute her to my eventual love for cooking and baking for others. I absolutely would not be the person I am today if not for her all those years ago.
Second, Kenna Seiler, aka “Boss Lady.” She is the best attorney anyone could ever work with. I have been with her from the beginning as well. All those years ago, she was the one who gave secretarial work to a 16-year-old file clerk who had zero experience and said, “You can absolutely do this! I’ll help you.” She reviewed everything I did and gave constructive criticism and extensive notes or corrections. She was always, and still is, willing to answer any questions – even if, to some, they might seem obvious or redundant and at times maybe even annoying. She did this so I could learn, so I could be better. She is nothing but encouraging to furthering myself and reaching my goals. She is one of the reasons why I have educationally advanced my paralegal career. She has never once doubted that I can do anything I put my mind to and is always one of the first to still tell me, “You can absolutely do this! I’ll help you.”
These two phenomenal women are the reason I am what I am in the legal field today. They will, without a doubt, be a guiding hand in any future endeavors I might have. And I hope that one day I will be to others what they have always been to me.
So, my advice is this: Find great women. They are everywhere. Be willing to learn from them and soak up any knowledge or advice they want to part with. Emulate their greatest qualities.
Then, be willing to teach and help other girls and young women in whatever capacity that you can. Perpetuate the cycle of being a great woman behind other great women.