And Still We Rise! How One Student is Empowering Women’s Voices and Moving Humanity Forward.

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DSC00132We believe that every student who enrolls at Sofia University has the ability to be a ripple in the wave of humanity’s evolution. The Moving Humanity Forward scholarship asks students to consider their own personal contributions to this amazing effort and how they envision an education at Sofia University will help them move humanity forward.

The Institute of Transpersonal Psychology at Sofia University was proud to award a Moving Humanity Forward Scholarship award to a new Master’s in Transpersonal Psychology student. The author has asked for anonymity for personal reasons, but has shared the following winning essay with readers.

Moving Humanity Forward

You may shoot me with your words,

You may cut me with your eyes,

You may kill me with your hatefulness,

But still, like air, I’ll rise.

—Maya Angelou, Still I Rise, 1978

My_Heroes_-_Maya_Angelou_connected_with_countless_people_through_her_powerful_poetryUnderstanding the concept of moving humanity forward, Maya Angelou beautifully writes to inspire us all to engage in the betterment of society.   As members of the human race, we are called to use our gifts and abilities to not only rise but to help others rise. 

This belief is foundational to not only my faith community but also to many other faith communities.  I committed myself to the beliefs of my faith community early on and to sharing those ideas with others to make the world a better place.  Here I am many years later knowing that moving humanity forward for me means taking all that I have learned and will learn to free women from misogynistic beliefs imposed by others.

The Journey Begins

“I want to transform, and I want to help others transform.  I want to help other women rise…women who can listen to Maya Angelou’s poem; “Still I Rise,” and know that they are strong, beautiful women and they can rise above the misogynistic beliefs that have held them down.”

My journey began in the sixties growing up in a divorced family with older siblings who were experimenting with everything the sixties and seventies had to offer.  In the midst of this chaotic environment, we did have one family rule—we had to attend church until tenth grade. It didn’t matter which church, as long as it was a church.  This rule would end up creating a journey filled with community, spiritual discovery, trauma, and eventually—freedom.  Freedom to rise and help others to rise!

I began to experience community at a young age when I started attending a small church in our town.  I was in desperate need of connection as my Dad had left our family that year and my mother, a product of the fifties, had no workplace skills nor the ability to handle a large family on her own.  As the youngest, I was left to flounder and navigate life on my own while my older siblings were involved in the culture of the day.  It was at this small church where I found sanctuary for the next ten years.

friendship-1081843_1920Not only did I find refuge in my church, but I also found it at a summer camp a few hours from my home.  During difficult high school years when I was struggling with teenage life, an abusive step-father, and a chaotic family situation; I found mentors, friends, acceptance, meaning, and healing at this camp located on a beautiful lake.  I grew to appreciate spiritual practices, the wonder of nature, and the gift of friends.  These women were a tremendous gift at the time,  and thirty years later they would be the glue that would hold me together when I faced the most difficult decision in my life.

My sense of belonging during my middle and high school years was based on my faith community.  As I began searching for colleges, my mentors during this time highly recommended a  college which was known for rigorous academics as well as a having a spiritual atmosphere.  Here I could receive an excellent education while pursuing my goal of spiritual discovery.  I did grow academically while attending, yet I also battled with depression as I tried to sort through my dysfunctional family life. 

The University Scene – No Place for the Voice of A Woman

In the context of the belief system of the university, I quickly learned that I shouldn’t be struggling with depression nor should I be questioning my professors or the spiritual directives of the institution.  I learned that as a woman, I wasn’t allowed to have a voice.  I needed to accept what I was told and work harder at not being depressed.  Because I was a product of a dysfunctional and abusive home, I adapted well into this environment thus beginning a traumatic spiritual journey that lasted for many years.

family-1784371_1920After college, I met my now ex-husband, who was also was an alumni from the same college I attended.  We married and became active in our local faith-community teaching and leading.  Within a few years, we had three boys.  I was a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom seeking to serve to the best of my ability in our local house of worship as well as in the homeschool community.  By this time, I had been trained well to quiet my voice and follow submissively.

While my husband and I both served in our various ministries and worked hard at raising our boys, we were keeping a dark secret.  My husband was an abusive, angry man.  I sought help from my faith community during the early years of our marriage but was told that I just needed to be a better wife and learn to submit.   I knew I was experiencing abuse.  I knew in my gut it was wrong, but I went along with my faith community’s belief that marriage was a vow that wasn’t to be broken. 

Finding Power and Freedom

divorce-619195_1920I followed this road of powerlessness for many years as my boys grew into young men and went off to college.  However, as I got older, I grew stronger.  Finally, after years of marriage,  I made the most difficult decision of my life and left my husband.  Thus I began the difficult road of divorcing my husband and going against my faith community. Thankfully, I still had my dear camp community of amazing women to walk the most difficult part of my journey with me. 

I am now experiencing a new found freedom.  Freedom to look at ideas differently.  Freedom to have a voice. Freedom to believe in me.   Freedom to find my own spiritual path.  Freedom to live and breathe.

Over the last few years, I have found a new community—a quiet online community.  A community of abused women that quietly stay in abusive marriages because they have been taught that divorce is a sin.  Women that don’t have a voice.  Women that want to reevaluate their long held spiritual beliefs.   Women that have never financially supported themselves.  Women that silently pray while their husbands rage at them. Women that have been taught to quietly and submissively follow their husbands even while slowing dying on the inside.  Women that desperately want to be healthy, but need help.  Women like myself.

I want to transform, and I want to help others transform.  I want to help other women rise…women who can listen to Maya Angelou’s poem; “Still I Rise,” and know that they are strong, beautiful women and they can rise above the misogynistic beliefs that have held them down. 

I believe the next step on my journey is to continue in my growth as a whole person and to equip myself to help others.  I desire to study psychology from a transpersonal perspective.  

buddha-2634565_1920Taking the Next Steps to Empowerment at Sofia University

At Sofia University I plan to work on an MA in Transpersonal Psychology with a specialization in transformative life coaching.  I believe my time at Sofia will challenge my worldview significantly as I gain the skills and knowledge to be able to work with other women that desire to have the freedom that I have experienced.

While my faith community has given many gifts to help the world move forward, there have also been many beliefs that have hurt people over the years.  I personally experienced spiritual and emotional abuse as a byproduct of a belief system taught by my faith community. 

My goals over the next two years while at Sofia are to learn about different belief systems as well as to challenge my own belief system.  I desire to be in a community that leaves room for the spiritual but isn’t dogmatic about spiritual beliefs.

Women in my faith-community need to be taught and cared for.  They need to know that they have a voice, that they can stand up for what they believe.  They don’t need to suffer silently as their husband’s rage at them.  Divorce isn’t a sin. 

They can get jobs and support themselves.  They can get their own bank accounts. They can care for their own soul.  They can question long held faith beliefs. They don’t need to put up with spiritual and emotional abuse.  They can rise!


ITP-logo_smallAbout The Institute of Transpersonal Psychology at Sofia University

Since 1975, the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology at Sofia University has continued to be an international leader and pioneer, moving humanity forward in the areas of transpersonal research and transpersonal education. training clinicians, spiritual guides, wellness caregivers, and consultants who apply transpersonal principles and values in a variety of settings.  The Sofia educational model offers students not only a solid intellectual foundation, but an extraordinary opportunity for deep transformational growth and personal experience of the subject matter. How does Sofia University accomplish this? The university builds upon its strong, whole-person psychological foundation to give students a greater understanding of the human condition.

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