By Gabby Sorrentino, Staff Writer
This Black History Month, the Trinity Hall Tribune is honoring five black women who are currently making history: Lt. General Nadja West, Dr. Hadiyah-Nicole Green, Kathryn Finney, Misty Copeland and Charlaine Vivian Stringer. Each woman has proven herself to be a leader and an innovator in her respective field.
Kathryn Finney was born in Milwaukee, Wisc., and received a bachelor’s degree in Arts and Sciences from Rutgers University and a master’s degree in Arts and Sciences from Yale University. She is best known for her role as the founder and former owner of one of the first lifestyle blogs, The Budget Fashionista, as Editor-at-Large at BlogHer and as co-founder and CEO of Digitalundivided, the first incubator for Black and Latinx women entrepreneurs.
“I attended a lot of business conferences while at BlogHer and I was always asking the question, ‘where are the Black women in the tech startup world?’” she told Trinity Hall Tribune via email.
Since 2013, her enterprise has helped raise more than $25 million in investments and has built over 50 different companies. Finney is a former member of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and in 2013 she received the White House Champion of Change Award. She was also featured on Forbes 2018 list of America’s Top 50 Women in Tech.
Finney had this advice to offer to young girls interested in business: “Don’t be afraid to think BIG. You do the world a disservice by making yourself smaller than you’re meant to be. You don’t need anyone’s permission to shine!”
Born in 1961, Lt. General Nadja West is one of 12 adopted children and was raised in Washington, D.C. in a military family; her father and nine of her siblings also served in the armed forces. She graduated from West Point with a Bachelor of Science degree in Engineering as a member of the school’s third co-ed class in 1982. She then went on to receive a Doctor of Medicine degree from the George Washington University School of Medicine.
In 2015, West was appointed the 44th surgeon General of the U.S. Army—making her the first Black person to hold that position. With her promotion, she became the first African-American female lieutenant general as well as the highest ranking woman to ever graduate from West Point.
Alongside her three stars, West is also a recipient of numerous other decorations and awards including the Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit with three Oak Leaf Clusters and the Army Commendation Medal.
The next woman being honored is Dr. Hadiyah-Nicole Green who was born in St. Louis, Miss., and was raised by her aunt and uncle after being orphaned as a child. She is the first of her family to go to college and received her masters and doctorate in physics from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
Green is one of the first African-American women to earn a doctoral degree in physics in the U.S. and is one of less than one hundred Black female physicists in the nation. She has developed a breakthrough, patent-pending technology that will use laser-activated nanoparticles to treat cancer, a treatment that has been used successfully during preliminary testing on laboratory mice. She was recently awarded $1.1 million by the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs to further her research and is also a recipient of a key to the city of Selma, Alabama and has won the Historic Icon Award.
The fourth woman being honored is ballet dancer Misty Copeland, who was born in Kansas City, Miss., and raised in San Pedro, Calif. She started studying ballet at the late age of 13, but in just a few years she was competing and winning awards for her dancing.
In 2015 Copeland made history when she became the first black woman to ever be promoted to principal dancer for the American Ballet Theatre (ABT). In her time with the company, she has performed in numerous prestigious roles, including “Clara” in ABT’s production of The Nutcracker. She became the first Black woman to perform the role of “Odette/Odile” in 2014 during the ABT’s inaugural tour of Australia.
Copeland has been featured in endorsements for American Express and Coach, and she was one of the faces of Under Armour’s “I Will What I Want” campaign. She was appointed to the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition in 2014, and she has written three books, most notably her New York Times bestselling memoir, Life in Motion.
The final woman making herstory is current New Jersey resident C. Vivian Stringer. Stringer, who was born in 1948 and grew up in Edenborn, Penn., graduated from Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania where she was a four-sport athlete and began her first coaching job at Cheyney University in 1972.
She left Cheyney in 1983 and then coached at the University of Iowa until 1995. After Stringer left University of Iowa, she took a job as head coach of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights, a position which she currently holds.
In 2001 Stringer was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame. She holds the distinction of being the first coach in the history of the NCAA to lead three different women’s programs to the NCAA Final Four and she currently holds one of the best records in the history of women’s basketball. In 2018, Stringer became the first African-American college basketball coach to attain 1,000 wins,making her one of only six Division I coaches to ever achieve such a feat.