Female mentors celebrated at event in Monroe


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MONROE – Forty years ago, David Rothman graduated with two female classmates, earning a master’s degree in business administration (MBA) from Seton Hall University.

“Now more than half the class [getting their MBAs from Seton Hall] are females … we’re getting there,” he said of gender equality.

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Rothman, who chairs the Monroe Township Planning Board and is a former councilman, was one of the guest speakers at the Women’s History Month event presented by India-US Forum of Monroe Township (IFM) at the Monroe Township Recreation Center on March 9.

March is Women’s History Month, commemorating and encouraging the study, observance and celebration of the vital role of women in American history, according to the Library of Congress.

The IFM’s mission is to unite all Indo-US residents together under one umbrella as a team to partner in social and cultural, economic, education and civic engagement activities in the township and beyond.

“In the Declaration of Independence, [President] Thomas Jefferson [quotes] ‘all men are created equal’ meaning all mankind,” he said, noting the quote was revolutionary for the time.

Rothman said it took time – 144 years – to amend the Constitution for the women’s suffrage movement allowing the women the right to vote in 1920.

Anand “Andy” Paluri, a member of the Monroe Township Board of Education, served as the master of ceremonies and Vinisha Patel, a sophomore at Monroe Township High School, introduced the number of students, who worked as mentor and mentees, to present inspiring women past and present.

The mentor and mentees are part of the Tri-M Mentoring program, who participated in celebrating Women’s History Month.

The inspirational women were Sybil Ludington and Nancy Wake, war heroes; Hedy Lamarr and Stephanie Kwolek, military engineers; Luisa Harris and Denise Long, basketball players; Esther Conwell and Olive Dennis, engineers; Nellie Bly and Harriet Beecher Stone, writers; Hypatia and Caroline Herschel, scientists; Shawn Johnson and Nastia Liukin, gymnasts; Marta Vieira da Silva and Mia Hamm, soccer players; Emma Watson and Jane Goodall, environmental activists; Josephine Baker and Michaela DePrince, dancers; Mae C. Jemison and Shannon Lucid, astronauts; Ella Fitzgerald and Lesley Gore, singers, Rebecca Latimer Felton and Hattie Caraway, U.S. senators, and Simone DeBeauvoir and Alice Paul, women’s rights activists.

Lisa Robinson, a lieutenant in the Monroe Township Police Department, said she was honored and privileged to attend the event.

Board of Education member Patricia Lang said she was proud of all the students.

“Of all the famous women, there are two special people [in your lives], parents and teachers,” she said, adding parents and teachers are there to offer a push and guidance.

Councilwoman Miriam Cohen said she and her siblings grew up with a role model in their well educated mother, who earned her master’s degree from New York University.

“My father was very proud of my mother,” she said, noting her father was a physician.

Cohen said as a nursing teacher at The College of New Jersey, she instills in her students the importance for women to have confidence, strength and knowledge, and to not be afraid to stand tall and take risks similar to the many inspiring women mentioned at the event.

Freeholder Shanti Narra, of North Brunswick, who is the first South Asian woman to sit on the Middlesex County Board of Chosen Freeholders, said part of being a strong woman is understanding her roots whether it be honoring one’s parents and/or looking up to the role models mentioned at the event, who have contributed to the rich history of women in the United States and around the world.

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