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AAUW honors women leaders of the past
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Groundbreaking female leaders of the past will be brought to life in a program aimed at celebrating Women’s History Month.

The Turlock/Modesto branch of the American Association of University Women is presenting a living history portrayal of six influential women at a free event set for 6:30 p.m. March 29 at Berg Hall, Covenant Village, 2125 N. Olive Ave., Turlock.

The local chapter of AAUW has always honored women during Women’s History Month in March, said event co-chair Pat Portwood, selecting women from the community and organizations. This year the group decided to instead honor women in history.

“AAUW has a series of booklets they’ve produced of famous women, and we went through selected (the women leaders)… we picked a variety of women for their leadership, being role models and risk takers — all what AAUW believes in,” said Portwood.

Sheila Younkin has been a member of AAUW for 10 years and she’s excited about the new program.

“I think it’s a lot of fun and educational and really honor women who’ve made an impact on our nation,” she said.

Younkin will be portraying Sandra Day O’Connor, the first woman appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“I taught American government at Turlock High School for 28 years and a large part of the course was dealing with the court system and cases. Sandra Day O’Connor is someone I’d always admired. I’m proud of the fact that she was the first woman on the court. She was there for 24 years so she made quite an impact,” said Younkin.

AAUW member Wanda Bonnell said that she’s been a longtime fan of the woman of history she will be portraying — Maya Angelou.

Angelou was a poet, award-winning author known for her memoir “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” and civil rights activist.

“I have always admired Maya Angelou, I grew up reading her work. She is an important part of history and specifically black women of history,” said Bonnell.

Other women of history who will be portrayed are: Elzabeth Stanton, an early leader of the woman’s rights movement; Elizabeth Blackwell, the first woman to graduate from medical school in the United States; Juliette Low, founder of the Girls Scouts of America; and Eleanor Roosevelt, who changed the role of the first lady through active participation in politics while wife of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Recent Modesto Poet Laureate, Gillian Wegener, will recite her poem, “Ghazal for my Sisters,” to conclude the program.