‘Portraits of Resiliency’ celebrates strong women

Lauryn Bolz

International Women’s Day is dedicated to showcasing the powerful stories of women who found strength in the face of adversity.

woman speaks at podium
Colorado State University graduate student Carolina Gutierrez, one of the subjects of an International Women’s Day portrait photography series by alumna Cassie Rosch, speaks at the North Ballroom in the Lory Student Center March 5. “It [motherhood] even showed me that females and males who become parents are not subject to the same standards,” Gutierrez said.
(Anna von Pechmann | Collegian)

On March 6, The Office of International Programs and other offices across campus partnered to celebrate the stories and accomplishments of Colorado State University women from all walks of life. “Portraits of Resiliency: Reflections of CSU Women” showcased artful photographs taken by Fort Collins photographer and CSU alumna Cassie Rosch and allowed some of the women to speak about their unique experiences.

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The event celebrated International Women’s Day, which takes place March 8.

“Storytelling is powerful and profound,” said Shauna DeLuca, an assistant director at The Office of International Programs and organizer of the event. “It allows us to connect with people on an emotional level, build community, offer support and (have) a way to relate to each other.”

DeLuca said she wanted to put together an International Women’s Day celebration for five years, and with the help of other on-campus programs, “Portraits of Resiliency” finally came together.

“We have an amazing community of women that support each other tirelessly and are really willing to come together as a community,” DeLuca said. “We really felt that it was important to share the stories and highlight the women and the struggles that they overcame.”

“Storytelling is powerful and profound. It allows us to connect with people on an emotional level: build community, offer support, and a way to relate to each other.” – Shauna DeLuca, Assistant Director of Global Co-Curricular Initiatives in the Office of International Programs

Among the 23 women who came forward to share their story was Camila Ozores Silva, a graduate student who found out she was an undocumented citizen while she was getting her undergraduate degree.

“It’s harder to show emotion as women, because when we do, it’s often labeled as crazy or irrational or unwelcome,” Ozores Silva said. “I think sometimes we hold on to our stories of vulnerability because we’re scared, but then you realize how empowering it can be to understand that you’re not alone.”

people look at portrait photos of women
Colorado State University students view the International Women’s Day portrait photography series of 2009 alumna Cassie Rosch before hearing three of the subjects speak in the North Ballroom at the Lory Student Center March 5. This series consisted of 23 CSU students, faculty, staff and alumni who were nominated by their peers for embodying resilience when faced with adversity.
(Anna von Pechmann | Collegian)

Colette Sterling, a senior majoring in communication studies, shared her story as a transgender woman at the event. Sterling has participated avidly in programs across campus with the mission of inspiring other students to share their own experiences.

“I think it’s important for the incoming students to see that as CSU Rams … we value how people exist and how they identify,” Sterling said. “I think for me that it was really important for LGBTQ students to see that they have something familiar coming in and that they have someone that they can identify with and someone who understands their specific struggle that not many other folks would be able to.”

“Portraits of Resiliency” not only showed the strength of the women at CSU but the importance of celebrating International Women’s Day as a whole.

“It (International Women’s Day) means owning your power and your magic as a woman,” Ozores Silva said. “Understanding what it means to move through the world that wasn’t often created for you to take up space in and exist in.”

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Lauryn Bolz can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com or @laurynbolz.