March is Women’s History Month, and 9 On Your Side is highlighting the impact women are having here in the East.
WNCT is encouraging women to celebrate one another.
We spoke to several successful women in different fields of work, acknowledging both their accomplishments and obstacles.
“Sometimes as women, I feel like we have to work a little harder and push a little further to just go above and beyond to make sure we get the recognition and respect that we deserve,” Dr. Kristin S. Braswell said.
Braswell said as an African-American woman, she feels like she must work twice as hard to be on the same playing field as her peers.
“That’s one reason I have a dual masters and a dual doctorate, and it’s because I feel like I have to give myself options,” Braswell said.
She is the first African-American woman to serve as the Dean of Continuing Education and Workforce Development at Pitt Community College.
“My mother, she is a single parent, and I saw her go to work every day and she worked very hard,” Braswell said. “She went to work on days she should have just stayed home, but she knew she had to take care of us. I knew then that I didn’t want to work as hard as she did, and I wanted to do something where I have a career that I can give back to her eventually.”
Following her graduation from Johnston Community College and receiving her degrees, she became a high school counselor, working her way up the ladder, and giving back to her mother in the process.
“She always talked about going back to school, but since she had me, I was first, and so when I was like ‘mama, I am okay now, you need to focus on you,’ so she is finishing up her Master’s degree in speech and language pathology, and she tells me now, ‘I am almost finished and I would have never done this if it wasn’t for you pushing me.'”
Braswell pushes Pitt Community College students the same way she pushes her mother.
Despite her accolades, she said being a woman in the workplace has its challenges.
“I would say gaining the respect of all the people you supervise, and most of the time being younger than the people that report to you,” Braswell said. “I think it’s changing. I see more opportunities for women now.”
“Over 23 years, the presence of women in the profession has grown, and that is a wonderful thing to see that there are more female lawyers,” family law attorney Carolyn Peacock added.
Peacock is another woman in the East making strides in her field.
She is the first and only female partner at Chesnutt, Clemmons & Peacock in New Bern.
“It makes me very happy to see my name out there and doing my part to help preserve families in North Carolina,” Peacock said.
She is a board-certified specialist, focusing on issues including adoption, child support, and divorce.
“My parents divorced when I was rather young, so I am the product of a divorced family so I feel like that I have a lot I can relate to clients who are going through that same situation,” Peacock said. “The voice is the female perspective whether or not my client is a female or male client, and I think that it is really important to see that a woman can be successful and can still be compassionate at the same time. These are peoples’ lives you are dealing with. It keeps you on track, and it keeps you focused and working hard.”
Lisa Kirby is another hard-working woman.
She is the senior engineer for the City of Greenville, overseeing projects like Town Creek Culvert, the creation of city hall and the emergency operations center.
“We are involved in all aspects of public infrastructure,” Kirby said. “When you look at all the roads, city buildings and facilities, we are involved in all of those capital projects.”
She worked with FEMA and the U.S. Department of Energy before moving to Greenville to become the first woman head of her department.
She is also seeing an increase in women in her field of work, due in part to more exposure in math and science thanks to programs like STEM.
“It is no longer boys or girls in this environment, and they are equally interested,” Kirby said. “I get just as many good questions from all of the kids that are there and I think that is a good thing. It is a positive because it means people or kids are free to explore what they are interested in as opposed to being told what they need to explore.”
Kirby, Peacock, and Braswell said it is important that women encourage each other and acknowledge their accomplishments.
“We have to celebrate and recognize each other, even if no one else does and I think it is key for different people to share their stories,” Braswell said.
“Sometimes women can be harder on other women, and I think that it is important for the next generation to see females in leadership roles,” Kirby added.
“It is so important for a young female to see older females being successful when they have the obstacles,” Peacock said. “There is another person out there who is successful and they have had obstacles and if they can make it, so can I.”
Join 9 On Your Side Sunday, April 24 for our 30-minute special, Celebrating Women.
It will air at 11:30 a.m. on WNCT.