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
  • My moment came when I was 12 years and I wanted to be able to help to my family members that were ill. My grandfather had a stroke and I would help him to read again, and throw a ball to help him with his movements, help him walk.

    My father was a diabetic and I helped in with mesuring is inslin, I was 9 years old.

    I would have to say that those moment were the "moment" but my moment was when I noticed the pattern of breast cancer in my family. Starting with grandmothers, every female on BOTH sides of the family over the years have had a breast cancer diagnosis. Then, I learned that it was my turn and needed a double mastectomy. From that point on, I wanted to make a difference to men, women and children facing a cancer diagnosis, surgery and treatments. I opened a wellness shop to be able to attend to the physical and emotional needs of others with a cancer diagnosis.

    From this point, I branched out to hospice care. I am now in hospice and work with so many wonderful, loving patients , families, and caregivers that assist with the final journey of their loved one. I work very closely with Alzheimer's and Dementia patients.

    My moment is truly a precious moment. I am very thankful to be me!

    Posted by misslolon, 26 May 2010.

  • When I was 17 (which was a LONG time ago!), I moved overseas to Asia with my family. Since I was born and raised in California, I was used to the idea of recycling and did it regularly by collecting soda cans and soda bottles. I'd always thought it was so wasteful to just throw away things that could be reused or turned into something new.

    So when I moved, I was a little disappointed to realize that there was nothing in Hong Kong that resembled a recycling program or a weekly recycling pickup like I know now in my California neighborhood.

    I remember asking around and doing as much research I could to find out where and/or how I could recycle things that could be reused. There was no such thing as using the internet back then, so I asked as many people as I could and even talked to my teachers. Fortunately, there was one who was originally from the States and she suggested I start a club at school to champion my cause.

    Before I knew it, I was organizing a recycling effort for the entire high school and working with my teacher to get them to a facility that would recycle the bottles and cans we'd collected.

    I was only 17, but YEARS later, I still remember how my individual passion at such a young age turned into a mission that I was determined to educate others about.

    Posted by VirgoBlue, 26 May 2010.

  • My moment was when i started working in the school system and realizing that there was a lot of children in our county that didn' have alot. So i got in touch with my childrens principle about donating items to the local school. i didn't realize just how many families in my area that need help and assistance. So me and some family members with friends got together and started donating clothes and other items to the school for the kids and their families. We know that its a small step and little effective, but thats how we start , we have to crawl before we can walk. So the small steps in life can make a difference to someone or to a small community.

    Posted by making a difference, 26 May 2010.

  • My Minerva Moment occurred when I was a senior in high school. My mother was watching the Oprah Winfrey show as she normally did after work. One night she called me into the room and told me to watch something very important.

    As reporter Lisa Ling told the horrific stories of women who had been brutally raped in the Congo I sat there, tears falling from my eyes. I was so moved to do something—anything!

    My heart ached to help so I went before my school administration with the idea of a fundraiser. I was denied at first—told the topic was too racy. I fought for these women because their story needed to be told.

    Eventually I received enough support. I ordered the transcripts from the Oprah Winfrey show, created a slideshow of images and retold the stories of these women in front of my entire community.

    I put faces to stories, which made the topic real for people, who knew nothing of third-world suffering. There wasn’t an empty seat in the house.

    I organized a weeklong bake sale to raise awareness. Donations came pouring in with notes of encouragement. We raised $1,100 and sent it to Women for Women International.

    This was my Minerva Moment and it has become my life’s calling. I now work for a women’s magazine in NYC. There is no greater bond than that of one woman to another. It is a bond that knows no boundaries.

    Posted by weste102, 26 May 2010.

  • I didn't realize until recently my moment came about 23 years ago when I watched my beautiful older sister fight tooth and nail for six years to save her life. Sadly it ended March 26 1988 when she was 35. I will never foget that day, I was 27 at the time and knew that day would impact my life forever. I am now almost 50 and I have been a champion and advocate for living a healthy lifestyle everyday. I became an exercise physiologist and nutrition counselor and have been preaching every chance I get to value of self-care from the inside out. I talk the talk but more importantly I can honestly say I do walk the walk and it feels great. My sister died of Breast Cancer and I'll be damned if it will take a hold of me or any other woman without a fight. Be scared BC be very scared.

    Posted by pilatespecialist, 26 May 2010.

  • Almost six years ago I was diagnosed with breast cancer. While taking chemo, I met a woman who was frequently hospitalized for dehydration as a result of nausea. On one trip to the emergency room, doctors had to manually dig impacted feces from her anus, because of chemo-induced constipation. When I encouraged her to ask her doctor for help, she said, “I couldn’t. He’s so busy.” Shortly after, she died. Her immune system couldn’t handle the cancer, the chemo and preventable treatment-related problems. Her death hit me hard. I knew there were many other women who needed knowledge and empowerment. I now give patients and their husbands/caregivers, the “Gift of Survivorship.”

    When families need one another most, I help them stay intact, survive treatment and find their “new normal.” I’ve launched the, produced over 100 original videos for each member of the breast cancer family, been named a Top 10 Breast Cancer Blog on the Internet, and have written two soon-to-be published books, one for newly diagnosed patients and one for husbands and caregivers. Even after 10 breast cancer surgeries and eight rounds of chemo, I sometimes think cancer was a gift from God. I am humbled and grateful.

    Posted by Ramborella, 26 May 2010.

  • My minerva moment came when my mom was diagnosed with lung cancer. I lived 3000 miles away and we would often talk on my drive to and from work every day, which was an hour. At one point after they thought they had gotten rid of the cancer, the idea just hit me while I was driving, which was to start my own nonprofit to help families and caregivers who were going through the same thing we had gone through find information and services easily to help them navigate the disease. I told my mom about the idea and told her that I was going to name it after her, and she thought that was a great idea, and said “You go girl!” Unfortunately, she didn’t live long enough to see her namesake charity come to life. She passed 5 weeks before my wedding. So 8 months after her death in 2006, my husband, brother and I incorporated and founded the Beverly Fund Lung Cancer Foundation. We focus on awareness, education, patient services and clinical trials.

    Posted by tracypie, 26 May 2010.

  • I think I was raised to make a difference in this world, but it took me a long time to figure out how.

    Compared to other Indians in the world, I have it pretty good. And I always knew that, despite the obstacles I faced growing up on Staten Island, a rather verbally aggressive and unsafe place for a sensitive, clever Indian girl, I had a debt to pay to the millions of people who's lives were more circumscribed and option-less. I try to live my life by Swami Vivekananda's words: "So long as millions live in hunger and ignorance, I hold every person a traitor who, having been educated at their expense, pays not the least heed to them."

    However, for a long time, I was misguided in my mission. I believed I had to get a graduate degree like every other Indian-American, and so I enrolled for a PhD in clinical psychology. While I love thoughtful introspection, the rules and attitudes of clinical psychologists utterly baffled me. To top it off, I absolutely hated being in the hospital and the slow, grinding work of seeing individual patients once a week.

    Fortunately, I was able to get a part-time job at Sesame Street while I was in school. Sesame Street opened my mind to a whole new way of using psychology: to inform media and harness its power to change the world. With my background in journalism, I became fixated with the idea of using psychology to inform news coverage of important worldwide events. Surely, if we can teach children in Africa about malaria prevention and hold their attention, we can do a better job with our news media and stop dumbing everything down to soundbites and celebrity gossip.

    When graduate school started to become an uncomfortable and then abusive environment, I held on to that passion, but flailed about trying to find my way. Then one day, in a moment of despair, a good friend simply said to me: "You have the ability to open doors in people's minds."

    That was my Minerva moment, when I knew that I had the ability to change the way people saw things, just not through the traditional route of psychotherapy. Instead, I can harness the power of my first true loves - journalism and media - to change the world.

    I am now in the process (with 3 other fabulous women) of launching a new, interactive Web site that will combine international news coverage with social action. The idea is to facilitate people's desire to act when they are moved by a story by providing them with tangible, measureable microactions they can do right away. In addition, we are using what we know from social learning theory and educational psychology to make sure our reporters write/create stories that are both informed and engaging.

    With any luck, we should not only be able to open doors in people's minds, but in their hearts as well.

    Posted by mbopaiah, 26 May 2010.

  • My second grade report card read, “Diane would do better if she spent less time taking care of others.” The comment was next to a big block checked “UNSATISFACTORY.” Upset and scared to show my report card to my parents, I shared it first with my grandmother.

    As she wiped away my tears, she told me her first grade story. Her teacher constantly hit her left hand with a ruler so she’d use her right hand to write. “I’m left-handed and no one can change that,” she said. “For you, helping people is the same. It’s in your genetic make-up and no one can change that.”

    In one brief moment, the big black mark on my report card went from unsatisfactory to a bright mark thanks to my grandmother’s wisdom. At that defining point, I knew I would always help people no matter what others thought or said.

    Since second grade, I have been fortunate to be able to do what I wanted to help others. Eventually, my service path led me to a career in medicine. At my medical school graduation, I even received the Award for Outstanding Community Service and have been serving ever since as a physician.

    Posted by drdiane, 26 May 2010.

  • I was five years old when my family moved to a very small village in Northern New Mexico where there were many poor families.
    My dad would always give the same treats he bought for our family to the poor neighborhood children. That taught me to do the same as well as helping the poor mothers with their children. My older sister and I would often help bathe and comb the young children whose mothers had so much work they didn't have much time to devote to their children. The mothers were often alone with their children for long periods when the men would go to California to work in the shipyards - this was during World War II.
    My dad had too many children to be drafted, however he was recruited to work on the Manhattan Project in Los Alamos. We were fortunate to have him home. It was a very interesting period in my life. Our time there made a big impact on my lifel.

    Posted by Chigal, 26 May 2010.