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
  • After arriving home from my first high school presentation on teen dating violence, I sat on the couch and opened up the folder where I had tucked the 40 plus feedback forms that the students had filled out-and what I read was without question my Minerva moment...
    Page after page...words from young women who I did not know...their words; all in one way or another thanking me for helping them understand the signs of abuse in a relationship, what to do if they, or someone they know, is in an abusive relationship, and where to get help. Many thanked me for sharing my own personal story and applauded me for having the courage to change my life and now share that to help others.
    Many of the young women told me in their words that I had inspired them to examine their own relationship and they knew they deserved to be treated respectfully.
    Sitting on my couch I thought about all that I had experienced to get where I am today-what an incredible privilege to actually help young people. And really even if it makes a difference for one person-then every step of my journey has been worth it.

    Posted by ElinStebbinsWaldal, 31 May 2010.

  • In the early 1990s, I encountered an opportunity to actively and directly assist families who were victims of the Bosnian war. In my naivety, I persistently and doggedly pushed to achieve the donation and successful shipment of tons of medical supplies and equipment into the war zone, and the rescue and resettlement of numerous refugee families into the U.S. who desperately needed medical treatment. I had never been exposed to anything like this, having lived a sheltered life that did not include service to others. From the moment the families stepped off the plane, the gravity of their situation and the magnitude of the help we were providing became a turning point for me. Today, these families are thriving, and I have gone on to assist others in building a better life. One person can make a difference in the lives of others. All it takes is persistence and commitment. Each of us have the power to change lives and to have an impact on our world.

    Posted by, 31 May 2010.

  • I was a homeless drug addict for 30 years... No education, no hope, barely living. I believed that everyone owed me and that I was a victim. I believed that I was of no value and no worth. And then... I like to think that it was God's will...I was sent to a long term residential treatment center. There, I was literally housebroken, educated, held accountable for everything, and forced to face what I had become and make the decision to change it. I remained in the program for 8 years. They put me in position to be responsible for others and to make decisions that would effect other residents. And then I graduated from the program. I got a job as a drug counselor and worked my way up the company ladder. And then a dream came true. I was able to return to the State Prisons and tell my story. I was full of myself. The residents there were not looking for an ego driven self consumed ex-convict. They were looking for someone to listen and their response to my speech told me that. I then apologized to them and started over. I just told the truth. I began to cry and so did they. Many of them came up after and asked about aftercare. I now go to the prisons monthly and share my story. And I have watched women go from inmate to responsible mother. This is my Minerva Moment.

    Posted by Eastladeb, 31 May 2010.

  • The tsunami-earthquake disaster that devastated American Samoa, 29 September 2009, was the catalyst to my return after being gone for over 40 years. A month later, I left my comfortable and rewarding IT career to return home not knowing that in January 2010, I would be appointed to serve as American Samoa’s first CIO/IT Director.

    Total immersion into the Samoan culture was necessary to quickly acclimate to my new surroundings. The island was devastated by a natural disaster but worsened a day later when the largest employer on the island laid off over 2000 employees.

    There is a wonderful opportunity to use technology as a powerful tool to improve the efficiency of our government and greatly improve public services for our citizens to include our education system for the youth of American Samoa.

    Furthermore, the technological solutions we integrate must strategically include a strong and robust economic development component to strengthen and empower the work force but also spur innovative entrepreneurial initiatives.

    I am determined to make a difference as I partner with passionate and intelligent women leaders on and off the island to make positive changes. My Minerva Moment occurred when I was discouraged from making any changes.

    Posted by Easter Bruce, 31 May 2010.

  • My Minerva moment was when I decided I would choose a career that I wanted and not what my abusive father had wanted for me. He wanted me to be a nurse. I wanted to become a teacher. My amazing husband supported me and encouraged me and kept me going. The best moment was when I helped a student realize her full potential and she went from failure to success in 2 years. Being a teacher was so rewarding and incredible, I couldn't imagine doing anything else!

    Posted by LK, 30 May 2010.

  • My Minerva Moment occurred while driving to a weekly tantric dance class in 2008. I mused, “What good medicine this dancing community is for all these disparate women.” As a poet, I sensed the “medicine cabinet” idea would one day emerge as a poem. A seed was sown.

    The next step occurred while traveling with my “sister-out-law, in-law, ex-law.” We’re both enthusiastically retired — pursuing different creative paths (I write, she photographs). We returned thinking we should memorialize the trip creatively. We had words, we had images, we had a memory to share. And so we combined, we collaborated, we applauded, we witnessed a new expression, and in the end we discovered remarkable aggregate potential. An idea sprouted into a beautiful book.

    At that point, it was clear that we could evolve the original concept of a poem celebrating a compassionate, nurturing sisterhood into a collection of lyrical essays elucidated by corroborative images. The resulting publication, “The Medicine Cabinet: Words of Wisdom & Wellbeing for Women” was created to encourage women to recognize their inner beauty, perpetual courage, and inherent strength. A new alliance blossomed.

    Supporting projects and complementary products continue to emerge and now a full garden grows. What’s next?

    Posted by lunaerianancy, 30 May 2010.

  • “Diana” was living in a drug- infested neighborhood studying Physics II under her bed with a flashlight, and “Aljendro” , a former gang banger, finally realized he liked trigonometry because his teacher refused to let him leave. Here I sat interviewing high school seniors for internships. What was I doing here and why so nervous? I had somehow insulated myself for years from ever having to feel what I was feeling for these young hopeful Angelinos. Being a single, childless professional I had justified my own life’s path for years. Focusing on each youngins’ story, I thought of the popular saying LUCK IS OPPORTUNITY MEETING PREPAREDNESS, as I had my first Minerva moment. On this day, representing corporations who were looking for bright future scientists & engineers, our converging destinies had lined up. If I hadn't taken the path I had taken I would not be there for those young, first generation Americans striving to make their own way in a world so different than their parents could know. They had come prepared & together we would make opportunities, ” luck” was in the air. Minerva lives on in me being a mentor for 20+ years.

    Posted by ROSE, 30 May 2010.

  • My Minerva moment took place the first time I read R.W. Emerson’s poem:

    To laugh often and much, To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children, To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends, To appreciate beauty, To find the best in others, To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition, To know that even one life has breathed easier because you have lived, This is to have succeeded.

    The poem was framed and hanging on a boardroom wall where an organizational meeting for a United Way fundraiser was taking place. It was at this moment that I realized that every thing we do, big or small, has an impact. I was 13 years old.

    My mother exposed me to the importance of community involvement and volunteer work. Even though she suffers from severe arthritis and is in constant chronic pain, she always makes time to help others. I have been volunteering with many different organizations from a very young age along her side. When I was old enough I began volunteering with organizations that I felt strongly about. That United Way meeting was the first time I was volunteering on my own.

    From that day on, I have embraced the power of one. Today, I volunteer with various organizations including providing legal advice and counselling at various Legal Aid Centers across the county. I am rewarded knowing that every little bit helps (from keeping a family together to helping someone achieve their lifelong goal and start a business). Every one of us has the power to make a difference.

    Posted by Selina K, 30 May 2010.

  • my moment was after my second heart surgery. I grew up with chest pains and my doctors always thinking I was faking it. I was tired of the pain and I tried to commit suicide a few times. Tho I'm glad I never succeded ! Now I'm 19 going to school to become a nurse and I want to help kids that have illnesses and let them know their not alone and people are there to help!

    Posted by amorevietato, 30 May 2010.

  • It was a two-year journey to obtain a diagnosis for our son. High functioning autism. I had to educate myself on the disorder, and advocate for him to get access to the services he needs to overcome his deficits. Part of that process was attending support group meetings with speaker presentations relating HFA. There were none at the time nearby, so I traveled an hour away to attend a group that met on the opposite end of the county. Over time, other families were referred to me for advice regarding new diagnoses or trouble accessing services. Then I realized I could help families in my community by providing a similar support group (my “Minerva Moment”). I was able to find a location, got the word out through local providers and publications, and arranged for a line up of informative presentations. For the past year and a half our group has been going strong. New folks coming and receiving information they need. Regulars coming and getting the support they need. I’m so happy that with the support of my husband, we are able to help empower other families with knowledge and support so that they may effectively advocate for their children.

    Posted by nandsmommy, 29 May 2010.