Celebrating the women of Towson University
In honor of Women’s History Month, meet seven TU students who are paving their own way
By Cody Boteler '17, Lauren Castellana ’13 & Kyle Hobstetter on March 27, 2022
There is a strong legacy of women’s leadership at Towson University.
Earlier this month, TU launched the Tall-Wiedefeld Society, which was named after two former leaders of Towson University—Lida Lee Tall (1920–37) and Dr. Mary Theresa Wiedefeld (1938–47). These two women together led Towson University for more than a quarter century and thrived because of their efforts.
Along with honoring the past, current TU female leaders are being recognized for their work. Provost Melanie Perreault and women’s basketball coach Diane Richardson were honored by the Maryland Daily Record as two of its top 100 women in Maryland.
President Kim Schatzel has appeared on the list three times and has been added to the Circle of Excellence, the publication’s highest honor.
The strong history of women leaders at TU laid the groundwork for the next generation. Meet seven Towson University students who are becoming leaders in their own right.
Taryn Painter ‘22
Willow grove, Pa. | History and Political Science
Taryn Painter has had a lot of female inspiration. Most important is her mom, who immigrated to the United States from Vietnam in 1994. In fact, her mom is the inspiration for Painter’s research project about displacement and identity studies.
“All my mentors have been mostly female, and [they show] me that women can do anything together,” she says. “Dr. McCartney has pushed me to pursue every opportunity, and, without her encouragement, I wouldn’t have been doing what I’m doing.
“Dr. Katz has been amazing too. She took me on as her research assistant when developing the history and human rights minor.”
Lakeshia Ferebee ‘22
Baltimore | Theatre Arts
Lakeshia Ferebee is finishing her master’s degree in theatre arts and is working on her thesis. But instead of a paper, she is writing and performing a one-act play, “The Matriarch in Me.”
Through this play, she honors and celebrates the African American women in her life and the community, like Harriet Tubman, Maya Angelou and Michelle Obama as well as Ferebee’s mother, great-grandmother and great-great-grandmother.
“Through conducting interviews with my family, I learned more about them and found out they were strong women,” Ferebee says. “I know that I come from a strong lineage of Black women. And I’m glad I have the opportunity to celebrate the literal matriarchs of my family.”
Kristen Gittings ‘22
Salisbury, Md. | Psychology and Family Science
Kristen Gittings always had a passion for psychology, so when she came to Towson University, she already knew where she was headed. But thanks to the Honors College, she found another passion and a second major: family science.
While at TU, Gittings has started to do research. And while a lot of the textbooks and theory she reads have come from men, the research she’s doing has shown her that women can have an impact on how research is done.
“To be a woman in sociology, psychology and research is to be visible and carve a path,” Gittings says. “I’m very lucky there are a lot of role models I can look up to in these fields because there's a lot of women doing great research.”
Fay Bakodimou ‘21
Athens, Greece | Business Administration, Marketing
During her time at Towson University, Fay Bakodimou has already accomplished a lot. She has earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a concentration in marketing and is working on a master’s degree in marketing intelligence.
She has also been a part of a Towson University volleyball program that won three-straight Colonial Athletic Association championships. Succeeding in so much is something she credits to her mom, who also played professional volleyball in their home country of Greece.
“I just remember my mom doing the most, whether that’s having two jobs, running errands or just being there for me,” Bakodimou says. “She did so many things at once, that sometimes I would wonder how she kept it together with so many things on her plate. And she always had such a positive attitude.”
Sophia Posada ‘21
Frederick, Md. | Elementary and Special Education
Sophia Posada always wanted to be a teacher. When she was younger, she would play school with her toys as students. Now she is in a real classroom, helping to inspire the next generation as a first grade teacher.
Posada was inspired by her older brother’s special education teacher, who not only believed him but helped him thrive. She is hoping to have that same effect on her future students.
“You are everyone’s first learning experience,” Posada says. “It’s nice to be part of that initial impact. Sometimes people don’t take women seriously in the professional field, and it’s important to be that first role model for kids.”
Meghan Ely ‘22
Chonshohocken, Pa. | Biology
Meghan Ely is a member of the first cohort of Hill-Lopes Scholars and has big goals for when she graduates later this spring. She plans on going to medical school and helping women, not only with medical issues but with trust issues.
“There are constant disparities in health care in so many areas; women’s issues stood out to me,” Ely says. “A lot of health issues that are specific to women are reproductive, and society has a lot of expectations about that and whether you’re going to have kids.
“To be a physician that patients feel comfortable speaking to about these really personal issues…I think of it as a responsibility to be someone they can trust.”
Vertania Kemp ‘22
Seaboard, N.C. | early childhood education
Vertania Kemp knows it’s important to have representation in the classroom. She also understands being a Black woman in education is just as vital.
She wants to show her students they can do anything, no matter what they look like, who they are or where they come from. She credits this attitude to the women in her life who inspired her.
“[They] showed me all the different dimensions of what it means to be a woman,” Kemp says. “They set the standard for how I should be as a woman, but they also push me to exceed those expectations.”