To Dr. Gallo:
First let me start by saying congratulations. Like Taylor Swift, Virginia Woolf, and other strong willed females, you have broken a glass ceiling. Being the first female in any position is an accomplishment, but being the first female president of a university that has such deep male roots, combined with its agricultural background, an industry largely seen as a man’s world, you have taken the bull by both horns. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that though. You said yourself that this will be the highlight of your career, as it should be.
From a students perspective here are the things I would like to share with you:
We have many women who, like Reshma Saujani says, “Climb to the top of the monkey bars and jump off.” Our women here are risk takers. We have women who head departments, who are student leaders, who do all of the farm work that all of the men do here, who academically and intellectually are at the top of their majors. But I am sure they already told you before you took the position.
The thing is, we also have strong willed men here who also do all of those things. I have sat through countless meetings where the male students often over power the meeting and what is being discussed. At many universities, I think that this would be something that would be expected. Women are more of the do-ers, where men are more of the directors. But not here. It never fails that there are a group of strong willed females who break up the male domination in the meeting. In many cases, they are even the over powering voice.
Delaware Valley University teaches women to be empowered and provides them with a space to practice that empowerment. Senior, Olivia Gardner is the president of A-Day, a state fair here on campus. A-Day is one of the largest student clubs on campus that, more often than not, is headed by men. If there is year where there is not a male president, the other exec positions are most certainly filled with mostly males. Being in charge of a three day state fair that is completely student run is no easy task. Olivia is not crippled with the idea of perfection but instead thrives on her ability to be brave and hone her leadership skills that this University has offered her the opportunity to fine tune.
Students like Olivia and others will go on to be leaders in their own field. But, you see, Dr. Gallo, this is not something that is taught at an early age. This is something that is taught right here on our campus.
Equestrian team coach and Equine Science and Management chair Cory Kieschnick always says everything trickles down from the top. Attitudes, skill sets, manner, and yes, even bravery. During my time here she has been an influence in my ability to be the leader I am today. She constantly pushes her students and team members to be better people in and out of the classroom. She teaches us to work hard, then work a little harder. She teaches us to push the envelope. She teaches us to be brave.
These leadership skills that flow from women to women all over this campus translate into another set of “life currency” if you will. It’s something called hard work. These glass ceilings you talk about breaking do not break without a little elbow grease. In the books, or in the barns. You see, Dr. Gallo, here at DelVal, everyday women climb to the top of the monkey bars, break glass ceilings, and practice bravery. It’s just a way of life here. It’s Our DelVal. It’s your DelVal.