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 grew up in an environment watching my mother in abusive situations that also placed me in danger. My clarity of mind helped me to know that things were not my fault, and that no one deserved to be treated this way. In my teens I tried to convince her she was worth more than the life she was living, that no person deserves to be abused. But she could not hear my words, and I was unable to save her. Growing up many of my friends had been assaulted by family members, and we created a strong bond in the knowledge that friends are the family one chooses.
    When I went to college I attended Take Back the Night. On my campus after we took to the streets in protest, but when we came back to our rallying point one by one women and men took the stage to tell their stories. As I sat there baring the cold in a thin coat and the heat of one tinny candle keeping me warm, my heart began to thaw a bit, and my Minerva Moment began. Minerva the Goddess of water and re-birth was providing a moment of healing.
    The next year I started to work with Take Back the Night, and plan the next year’s event. I wanted to help empower women and men to know that they are not alone, and they do not deserve to be abused. That year I was the first person to brave the stage. I sang “Me and a Gun,” Tori Amos’ story of rape, then told my own story of abuse. It is a time of vulnerability and strength. I could not save my mother, but if I can help to prevent a child from being abused by empowering them, and a woman to know that it was not her fault, I will have done my job on this planet. I have been working as an activist and counselor in the rape crisis movement for about 10 years. I hope to open my own rape crisis center in the next few years. Until the violence stops, neither will I. Blessings Be

    Posted by StephanieMolen, 4 May 2010.

  • My Minerva moment...moments...When i was 16 i'd volunteered to work with Migrant farm workers with the California Migrant Ministry, to set up a health clinic and I taught English in the hot Central Valley evenings to these workers who had slaved all day in the sun yet wanted to learn English...when I was 17 living in Watts and took a girl to LAC/USC Medical Center for a broken arm, waiting over 8 hours with her...when I was about 25 and learned that my client, a woman with mental retardation had been a victim of incest for many years and that there were no resources to help her...THAT's when i set out to change that reality. Now, 35 years later, there are national training programs, conferences and some services around the nation...not near what is needed. Sexual assault, rape, prostitution, sexual slavery, physical labor slavery, torture and murder of children and adults with developmental disabilities is a dirty little secret in our country that i am working to make pubic knowledge...and to free these folks with disabilities from exploitation and bring their lives in to the light of living daily lives as regular And, when my patients feel better, or police/law enforcement, social services receive the training offered thru programs i've developed and they have a better case outcome..they are empowered and make this world better.

    Posted by DrNora, 4 May 2010.

  • My Minerva Moment began the moment my son was diagnosed with a brain tumor at 9 years of age. That was 1995 and it continues to this very moment in time. When my son asked "Why me?" it broke my heart, but my answer was to tell him that God had purpose for him - that he would use this illness to help other children get through hard times. When he died a year later, I knew that somehow I would carry on his mission to help children. It took a few years, but in 2000 I went back to school to earn a teaching credential (and a Masters in 2007). During this time I was fortunate to find a job teaching high school, full time, while I returned to college

    Every day, in my classroom, I know my son is watching over me. I tell my students (and their parents) about my journey and how grateful I am to be able to use this wisdom and knowledge in my classroom. As a teacher of English literature, I am very fortunate to have many literary works that I can use as my vehicle for teaching about world values and truths.

    I often speak about my son when I am trying to show them how to look outside their own comfort zone (aka bubble) and make a difference ...just a smile to a stranger.

    On a recent visit to my son's grave I spotted an unknown man saying a prayer at his grave. When he was finished, I inquired why he was there. He told me that when he first learned of my son's plight, he was touched and so he comes once a year to say thank you.

    I looked to the heavens and said my own thank you to Matthew. He is still making a difference in people's lives, even after his death.

    The Minerva Award is being give on June 2, 2010. June 2nd is my son's birthat and he will be 24 and I know he will be watching over everyone. It is too much of a coincidence to not be true.

    Posted by Patti Harris, 4 May 2010.

  • Walking down the street in Carmel, CA, with my friend Barbara. We saw a woman stumble, and fall...a bag lady. She was dirty and clearly a homeless and in ill health.

    My instinct was to turn and run. Barbara, on the other hand, kneeled down to see if she was discover how she could help.

    In those few moments I gained an insight into myself and vowed to be the one who could help.

    Since that time I have been a caregiver to a disabiled spouse, and have acquired helping skills. Now I am the one who looks for opportunities to take a moment, stop, and see how I can help.
    Something as simple and small as holding a door, moving out of the way of a wheelchair, lifting a burden has a huge impact - tiny Minerva moments make a difference.

    Posted by Lauren Klein, 4 May 2010.

  • I was riding my horse about sunset on the beach in Half Moon Bay, CA when all of a sudden she snorted and jumped to the right so fast I fell off... and landed on what was moving in the sand. Turns out it was a woman who had tried to kill herself, but the ocean kept throwing her back to shore, so she dug in and was prepared to lie there till she died. I sent my riding companion back to the stables with the horses and asked him to bring my car back to the beach. I spoke gently to her for about 15 minutes and convinced her to come home with me, soak in a hot tub and just "chill" in my extra bedroom for as long as she wanted. After 3 days in that room, spent reading New Woman magazine, Organic Gardening and Prevention, she pronounced herself fit to go home, where she once again took charge of her life, complete AAA sessions, even ended up getting married within a year! For many years after that she took me out to dinner on the "anniversary" of her rebirth.

    Posted by vizual, 4 May 2010.

  • When I remarried in 2003, I realized there weren't a lot of resources for remarrying couples and stepfamilies. I dreamed of creating a magazine as a hobby in my retirement years to enable successful remarriages. There are over 100 million remarried people in the U.S., and this number grows by 1 million annually. The divorce rate for remarriages is a dismal 70+%. When my son was diagnosed with type 1 (juvenile) diabetes, I had to end my 19-year career because it did not find afford me the flexibility to meet my son's needs. I had to do something else, and this was my chance to help remarrying people and stepfamilies. With my husband's unending support, I launched Remarriage LLC and created reMarriage Magazine at . I also created a support group in our county to assist children with type 1 and their families, and am now on the Board of Directors for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation in MD. As a former intelligence analyst who was on a life-long career path, I never thought I'd be doing what I am doing today. And, I'm LOVING it!

    Posted by, 4 May 2010.

  • Teaching at a Southern California community college during my first year of full-time teaching, I noticed with trepidation a particular student who sat in the back of class with a wife-beater t-shirt and a gangster bandanna tied around his head. As a new instructor, I was bit nervous, but in the interest of promoting equality, I called on him to answer a class discussion question. He answered politely and intelligently, and I had to hold back my smile of pleasure. In the essays he wrote for class, he confessed his involvement in a local gang, as well as his desire to break away from that life. That was the moment I knew that teaching could help me improve people's lives, and I couldn't have been more thrilled as I watched him slowly shed the gang uniform and begin to dress like a typical college student. He later transferred to the local CSU. Ever since, I have worked to cheer students on, particularly when they have no one else at home who thinks college is a valuable undertaking.

    Posted by Velvet, 4 May 2010.

  • Being a former police officer, I have always felt I had a lot of knowledge and experience to share with others, particularly women in my community. I decided a year and half ago to start my own company that focused on educating women and girls about safety awareness, prevention of violence against women, and physical and mental self defense. I started a company called H.E.A.T., which stands for Health, Empowerment, Awareness, and Tactical Defense. I feel these are all very important aspects of women's self defense. In light of the recent tragic deaths of Chelsea King and Amber DuBois in San Diego, my own community, I feel more than ever that my company and what I teach to yourg girls and women is making the biggest impact of all. I am so thankful to be making a difference in the lives of others and empowering women and girls with confidence and knowledge on how to better protect themselves.

    Posted by heatselfdefense, 4 May 2010.

  • I personally think that wanting to help and give is always within you either on the surface for some or deep beneath in the subconscious for others. But the real Minerva moment happens when you are firefight through burning issues of your life or of others closest to you. I have always been very intuitive (Maybe an indigo child) and have been observant of all happenings around me growing up in India. Devastating Arranged Marriages, Poverty, Superstitions, Apathetic Neighbors, government corruption... Frustration that you cannot do a thing about it but rebel and vent out. And then I went through this phase of taking care of myself, my career, my family. And then you hook up with like minded people and you are empowered with more resources to go out what you always wanted to do help. I saw the recession coming and started a blog and email thread to the Indian Women in our community, organizing various seminars and classes on "how to deal with tough situations in life", Domestic violence, Raising children in Bicultural societies. raising awareness on Mother-in-law/Daughter-in-law issues via a Staged Play etc. I have taken a break this year to do my MBA, but will get started again organizing events for the community. My Minerva Moment came when I realized that if I was facing a problem in life then its not just me but its happening to tons others, that revelation led me to reach out, educate, inspire and bring people together to solve problems together collectively.

    Posted by umalakshman, 4 May 2010.

  • When my husband and I married, we immediately and excitedly started trying for a baby. The first few months were playful and hopeful, but months kept coming and going and every pregnancy test was negative. Last year we celebrated our five year anniversary, and fourth year of infertility treatments. In that time, I have seen many doctors, injected myself many times, tried every diet, protocol and alternative therapy available in addition to multiple in vitro fertilization attempts and researching adoption options. In order to attemot to create meaning from our ordeal and meet others facing the same challenge, I became a member and eventually a leader of a support group assisting other couples dealing with infertility, and over the years watched most of the members go on to have a baby of their own.

    The information I learned from my failed attempts to have a baby, I shared, and it has helped many couples achieve their dream, but no matter how much research I have done, or therapies and treatments we have tried, we are still far away from having a child of our own. It has been so hard to understand why our journey to have a family has been so difficult.

    Losing hope of having a family of my own left a dark cloud over our home. And then, last month, we discovered that my Mother was suddenly diagnosed with Stage IV Cancer.

    The day we found out, my husband stood behind me as we booked a flight that same day for me to visit Mom and her husband. They had both lost hope, but I arrived and put both my desire for her to live and all the knowledge I had gained in my own infertility ordeal to work on my Mother's behalf. I met with the doctors at the clinic who had given up and did not know what to do, got her discharged, made an appointment at the Mayo Clinic, got all her records together, and got her admitted to Mayo in less than a week by booking a hotel adjacent to Mayo and wheeling Mom straight into Admissions. Within twenty four hours of seeing Dr. Jamie Bakkum at Mayo, my mother was in surgery, and the surgery saved her life. Later, in recovery at the ICU, I was able to help the nurse identify the exact optimal spot for where to give my poor thin mother an intramuscular injection, from my own long experience of daily self-injections. She is now alive and preparing for chemotherapy, and fighting for her life.

    I never thought that there could be an upside to the pain and loss of infertility, but what I learned through my infertility journey literally saved my Mother's life.

    That's my Minerva moment. To you, Theresa Jane Manion.

    Life is a funny journey.

    Today, I pray for two lives -- a child for us, and continued life for my Mother.

    Posted by etesolin, 4 May 2010.