Catalyst Magazine
DeRionne Pollard, PhD, MA, Montgomery College president, and Pamela Peeke, MD, MPH, FACP, FACSM, UMSOM adjunct assistant professor, led the lineup of powerhouse women who spoke during the symposium.
DeRionne Pollard, PhD, MA, Montgomery College president, and Pamela Peeke, MD, MPH, FACP, FACSM, adjunct assistant professor at UMSOM, led the impressive lineup of women who spoke during the symposium.

Three Memorable Moments from UMB’s Women’s History Month Symposium

The University of Maryland, Baltimore and the UMBrella Group held a Women’s History Month Symposium, “The Myth of Balance or The Art of Being Unbalanced,” in March. The daylong online event featured keynote speakers and breakout sessions as well as a networking lounge. Here are three memorable moments:

  1. Morning keynote speaker Pamela Peeke, MD, MPH, FACP, FACSM, adjunct assistant professor, University of Maryland School of Medicine, talked about resiliency. When she was in medical training, she did not have a female mentor, but she told herself, “If things aren’t exactly ideal for me right now, I can find the little openings in the gaps and make it work for myself.” She told a story of how she was doing her surgery rotation and saw the doors to the operating room labeled “doctors” and “nurses,” which she figured out was code for men and women. She went into the nurses’ locker room and found that the nurses were wearing dresses instead of scrubs. When she questioned this, she was told the scrubs were worn by men. She waited outside the doctors’ locker room until a medical student she was friends with came by, and she asked him to get her scrubs. She said when she entered the operating room in scrubs, not one person said anything to her. “That was resilience. I was adapting and adjusting quietly. And I worked through the system like that,” she said. “And now I am a mentor. We’ve come full circle.”
  1. Afternoon keynote speaker DeRionne Pollard, PhD, MA, president, Montgomery College, talked about her “reconciliation moment” when she felt self-pressure to choose between leadership and family. The weekend before she was to start her presidency at Montgomery College, she got a call that her father was in critical care in Chicago and not expected to live (he survived). Her mother died when she was young, and she is very close to her father, so she made the choice to tell Montgomery College that she needed to delay starting her job. “I thought about this fear about my father’s health and about a new job, about whether my new colleagues would think I was unreliable,” she said. “People at the college still mention this to me, that they saw me as a woman who made a choice for my family, but I was still able to claim my seat at the leadership table because I defined my narrative. I took my space. I prioritized what was important, but I explained it in a way that they understood, so they knew how I was going to show up in my role as a college president.”
  1. Allison Morgan, MA, OTR, E-RYT, led a mindfulness workshop in which she took participants through breathing and movement exercises, saying that COVID-19 has “shaken up,” or “dysregulated,” our nervous systems. “It’s about finding micro-moments throughout the day to nurture your nervous system and nourish your soul. And we nourish our soul when we are truly compassionate with ourselves, when we love ourselves, when we forgive ourselves, when we honor ourselves, and take the time to know that we’re not perfect,” she said. “And when we take these little moments to give ourselves a little bit of care, it goes a really long way, not only in our nervous system, but helping us to be fueled enough to serve in a way that we want to give to the world and give to others. And as women we naturally want to do that, so why not do that from a place where we’re empowered?”
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Jen Badie

Jen Badie is the assistant director of editorial services in the Office of Communications and Public Affairs at the University of Maryland, Baltimore.

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