Celebrity helps Cerritos celebrate women's history

by Rosali Castillo of TalonMarks.com March 2006

Textured images, textured life, was the general theme at the first annual Women's History Month Conference.

Students, faculty, and instructors from other schools filled the banner decorated Student Center this past Friday.

There was a lot planed for the entire day. There was a keynote speaker, a fashion show, vendor booths and featured panels as well. And to top it all off, actress Tiffani Thiessen and screenwriter R. Dean Johnson presented their short film, "Just Pray."

Maureen May was introduced to the crowd. May was the person to get Cerritos College to celebrate Women's History Month.

"It was a desire to encourage women to be who they are," she explained.

"This is absolutely amazing, everyone who leaves here will be so enriched," she added.

The event continued with Lydia Ruyle, who is apart of the Visual Arts faculty at the University of Northern Colorado.

However, Ruyle started off her speech in an unconventional way. She performed a ritual in which she called on the goddess of the north, south, east and west.

She then started to talk about her banners that she had created. Her goddess banners signified the divine feminine from the different cultures around the world.

Her banners have traveled to all parts of the world. Each banner has a story behind it. Ruyle also mentioned that she has made a book filled with her entire collection of banners she has created.

She also spoke of her women's pilgrimage that she led. She also confessed that she has lived through seven decades.

She has studied women's studies for various reasons. But she says she continues to do these type of events is to keep the history and the stories of women alive and going.

"Women are capable of doing anything in the world, " Ruyle emphasized.

After she finished talking, the crowd split up because there were two different panels that the guest could sit in on.

There were only five panels throughout the whole day, but there was always something going on.

The first two panels were " Behind Closed Doors: Sex, Drugs and Violence Against Women. The second panel was titled "Who pay? Men, Women, and Money."

There was a Sticker Sister booth at the event. Ariel Fix, the founder of this company explained what her product was and how she started it.

"I started this company when I was 13. I didn't see any stickers that had good messages for girls, so I started it for me," Fix explained.

She sells her merchandise mostly online at the stores website www.stickersisters.com. Some of the sayings on the stickers consisted of "Girls Rock" and "I'm Happy to be a Girl".

A member of the FMLA contacted her to be apart of this event and that's how it found out about it.

Student turn out was apparent but many of them were there because a teacher was giving extra credit.

But some students did find the event rather interesting. " I thought it was going to be boring, but it's pretty good so far," Chantal Ju Marie, nursing major confessed.

Denise Munoz, theater major added, "They should encourage us (students) to go to these things."

Angie Bowers, psychology major, said, " I wouldn't have came to this if the event wasn't announced in my class."

Burrows also mentioned that it was a good idea to have this sort of event and things like this should be done more often.

The fashion show was presented by Genevieve Barrios Southgate who is the director of the Bowers Kidseum (children's museum) of the Bowers Museum of Cultural Art.

She presented the audience with the history of the Mexican dress. The models walked throughout the crowd, so that the audience could get a closer look at the details of each dress. The models that were wearing these exquisite dresses were faculty members.

Following the models, two more panels then took place. One titled "Pushing the Stroller: Gender Roles & Parenting in the 21st Century" and the other, " Divas and Jeffes: Gender Roles in the Media."

The leading speakers of the panels were professor from some of the surrounding universities that teach about the content they presented or do studies on the related topics.

The last panel that closed this conference was "Women in Independent Film Making Today."

Thiessen and Johnson joined the crowd and discussed the process of filmmaking and explained the hardships and the high cost of putting a short file together. She also explained how she got many of her friends from the entertainment business to help her but this movie together.

After the panel was done, Thiessen stood around and interacted with the students and staff that wanted to talk to her.

"I think the (women's conference) is great. I think it's an amazing thing for women. I was very excited to come down and actually speak on women's issues and essentially come down and talk about film and TV and all that," Thiessen said.