My Minerva Moment



Since 2004, The Women’s Conference has honored extraordinary women with the annual Minerva Awards. These Remarkable Women & Remarkable Legacies have recognized a problem, identified the solution, and pursued it with strength, courage, perseverance and compassion.

Each one of us has experienced that moment when we first realized that we have the ability to make a difference and transform the life of someone we love, someone less fortunate or someone in need. That's your Minerva Moment!

So tell us –

When did you realize for the first time that you could make a difference? What was your Minerva Moment?  

Share your story in 200 words or less in the comments section below.


My Minerva Moment
  • I survived a brutal sexual assault on a cruise ship in February 2006. The rapist was hired and trained to do janitorial work but then was told to perform the duties of a security guard. I discovered that there were no laws governing crimes that occur in international waters. This awareness came as a result of incurring further trauma's when exposed to the ineptitude of cruise ship officials and law enforcement personnel as I sought help to deal with my injuries. This led me to seek help from a legal specialist in Maritime law, James Walker and Congressional help from my Congresswoman Doris Matsui. I was determined that my healing would involve a 3 pronged effort. The first was to seek help for my emotional injuries by working with a psychotherapist who used a technique called "EMDR", a technique which helped my brain to process and integrate the event so that I could function without trauma symptoms. The second was to protect others by sharing my story in the hope that people could make better and more informed choices when they travel. The third was to work to create laws to protect cruise ship travelors when they are in international waters. Before this happened I was not involved in politics and Congresswoman Matsui has been a huge supporter and advocate for me. I am now the Senior Vice President of International Cruise Victims and have been to Washington DC 19 times , testified before Congress and this past November our bill in the House passed 416-4. My Miinerva Moment started 4 years ago taking a difficult experience and making change for others.

    Posted by Laurie Dishman, 7 May 2010.

  • A few years ago at Thanksgiving I was given the opportunity to go to Chile to distribute wheelchairs with the Free Wheelchair Mission. My parents and I spent a week down there giving mobility to people who otherwise had no way of getting around. There was one family in particular that really changed me. We took a wheelchair to a young boy, about 15, who had never been able to walk. His mother was there and I was talking with her about how she carried him to every doctor's appointment, which wasn't close, they lived in the middle of nowhere. She had another son, younger, who was fully capable of walking. And when we put her son in the wheelchair I have never seen so much happiness in my life. The younger son started pushing him around and the mom turned to me and said, "their first walk together." It is incredible to see that something so small (a PVC chair with mountain bike tires) could drastically change someone's life. I will never forget that conversation with the mother, because it was her life changing too. The whole week was filled with joy; it was like nothing I have ever seen or experienced before and I hope that I can do it again. Since then, for my birthday every year my grandmother donates a wheelchair instead of getting me a gift. It's the best present ever; knowing that someone's life is changing for the better and seeing it happen in an instant first hand is amazing.

    Posted by CarlysCloset, 7 May 2010.

  • My Minerva moment came when I was an unwed teenage Mother. I was seventeen and having a baby before graduation. I knew I could not take care of myself and my baby if I did not finish school and continue with my college plans. During this period, pregnant girls could not attend school, and typically lost a year or several years of schooling, or even worst, quit school altogether. There were no schools available for alternative education.

    Being an honor student, my teachers and I agreed to home study/testing to ensure I retained my status with the senior class. This was in 1969 before "help" programs were in place for such situations. Needless to say, I continued my studies, on through graduation from a prestigous four year college (Baylor University). I am proud of my achievements during and after my teenage crisis. My personal achievements helped society by changing the general statistics associated with teenage pregnancy. Counselling unwed mothers on taking control of their circumstances and being a positive role model to others is also a personal achievement that gives me pleasure and a sense of value.

    Posted by Donna Adams, 7 May 2010.

  • When my Mom was diagnosed with stage 111c Ovarian Cancer almost ten years ago, I decided that for my Master's thesis I would create a marketing and operations plan for a 5k run/walk to raise money and much needed awareness for ovarian cancer (there is no reliable test to detect the disease). From that thesis, the run for her 5k Run & Friendship Walk was created. I pitched the concept to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and they decided to partner up with me to produce the event. In just 5 years, run for her has raised almost $3 million for the Cedars-Sinai Women's Cancer Research Institute. While my Mom passed away 2 years ago from the disease, she was the spokesperson and such an integeral part of the event for the first 3 years and it was such a special time we had together. I have met so many incredible and courageous women, men, and children who are living a Minerva Moment every day. run for her is a huge team has shown me that each one of us can make a difference.

    Posted by runforher, 7 May 2010.

  • I was born in 1913 on Kangaroo Point, Brisbane, Australia. My Minerva moment came to me when my fiance, Bill, a pilot for the Australian Air Force was killed over Africa. This was in 1939. I threw myself into the war movement -- practicing bandaging and splinting, rolling bandages to be sent to our troops, and the like. I even worked in a munitions factory, albeit as a secretary. Then I met my Yank. From that moment on I felt the need to give of myself, my time, and anything left over to helping out our war effort. Over the next four years of our courtship, I continued to particpate in the Australian relief prgorams. And in 1944 marry the most handsome Staff Sergeant the Air Corps had. Never once, during our 50 year marriage or since he passed away in 2001, have I stopped trying to eregize both myself and my associates to be all that they can be, do all they can do, and always stay active in causes you believe in. For my own, my daughters, and the world's sake.

    Posted by Thelma, 7 May 2010.

  • My special Minerva minute came at the barrel of a sawed off shotgun pointed at me while my three friends wereb being mugged. After they'd fled with our money, we were off to the ER where the rest of them were treated for a broken collar bone, broken wrist, and lacerations around the face and arms. Only my psyche had been sttacked. After feeling powerless for several days, I watched an episode of "Kung Fu" with David Carridine. So moved by this way to rechannel your enemies direct attacks such that you redirect their own energy against them, I signed up for Kung Fu classes the next day. After telling them (all men) what I wanted to learn, they designed a special program for me. I learned to redirect an attacker's fist or verbal jab. This return a sense of strength to me. I had found that my core was still strong. Only my defenses had been weakened. I went on to teach free lessons in Women's Self Defense at the DC Women's Center for a number of years. I got to give back, too.

    Posted by AdrienneParks, 7 May 2010.

  • I miss my mom. She died on Christmas Day 2007 few months after my father died of lung cancer. I believed she died of a broken heart. She was a brave women who married an American solider in 1954 and raise 5 kids in a country that was thousands of miles from her home, Japan. She learned to survive through the rough times, by teaching me to the values of being a women no matter how hard it gets by never letting your guard down. She was funny, talented, loving and shared many stories of her childhood. She survived the war, a massive earthquake in Fujii few years after the war, and raised us kids with honor and dignity. She never earned an award for her accomplishments, so today I would like to honor my mother with the highiest award and that is being the most bravest mom of all.
    I love you mom and I will meet up with you one day......with green tea in one hand and your favorite donut in the other.
    your loving daughter,

    Posted by Puppetrina, 7 May 2010.

  • I've had several Minerva moments over my life. I was given the opportunity to develop a program for women in recovery years ago. I first became interested in the plight of the women in recovery years ago when I read the book “Women, Who Run With The Wolves." This book awakened the spirit of the wild woman, the wolf women in me. I found that the wolf was a kindred spirit. In the book, Ms. Estes explained there is a place in the desert where the spirit of a woman and the spirit of a wolf meet across time. In her book, she states "wildlife and wild women are an endangered species", I began to fear I would not hear my howl, and I knew that my wild nature and feminine nature had been tamed and silenced. The story “La Loba”, bone woman, is a story about finding that voice, enabling other women to be a part of our restorative process, and then taking what we have been given to those who still suffer. My life's passion and work have been supporting women with addictions put words to their story. I have used whatever venue possible, be it, by way of the written word, singing, art, and poetry, any creative or not so creative mediums possible. The objective being, women needed to tell their stories and in doing so, could restore their soul. I found that until a woman started addressing the heart of their issues, recovering from substance use disorders was strenuous, if not unobtainable. My Minerva moments are being a part of the healing process with these wonderful women. In the group process, women are invited into the tribe, into the circle of healing and within the fellowship, we sing over those bones. We do healing together.

    Posted by Los Lobos, 6 May 2010.

  • My Minerva Moment came when I was sentenced to life in prison for a crime that I did not commit. I was assigned to work in the Law Library, and quickly realized that the women I was seeing in this prison were the most broken human beings that I had ever met. These women not only had no voice, they didn't even know that they were supposed to have a voice. At the time, I couldn't help myself but I knew that I could help my fellow inmates. I could be their voice until I could teach them to have their own voices. They learned and we helped to change laws in California.

    Posted by gkillianfree, 6 May 2010.

  • Empowering women has to start with young girls. I was always shy and an easy victim of bullying. I wanted everything to be different for my daughter so I encouraged her to be strong, competitive, and to live life big. At the age of 4 she started calling herself a tomboy. A tomboy? I looked it up in the dictionary and it means a girl who is boy-like. Oops! Maybe I took things a bit too far. Labels are limiting. She cut her hair (not well) and wore only overalls. Since then we created a new word,Tomgirlz, which means be yourself, respect yourself, and respect others. It worked!This resulted in a chapter book series that demonstrates leadership, self esteem, caring for others, and more. The newest book, Abbey's Turn, demonstrates how bullying can be prevented. I was one of the millions of broken spirits bullying leaves behind. Today bullying has escalated to criminal offenses like the burning of Mike Brewer and suicide of Phoebe Prince. My Minerva moment happened while I was encouraging girls to find their voice and express themselves and from them I found my own voice and started speaking for children's groups.

    Posted by tomgirlz, 6 May 2010.