When I was 13 years old, the government gave cheese to low income families. Once a month my mother and I would traipse down to a large auditorium-sized room and pick up a huge brick of American cheese. Well-dressed women from the other side of town would produce a sympathetic smile, hand us our cheese and then pat themselves on the back. These women were graciously giving up their valuable time to help "those" people. I knew some of these good Samaritans. I cleaned their homes on the weekends to make extra money. They were kind women who genuinely wanted to help. For this reason they were truly baffled as people became surly and rude when presented with cheese. Their puzzled faces revealed confusion: Why are these people upset? Why are these people unappreciative? Why are they mad at me? These ladies had very little understanding of how those of us on the other side of the cheese table felt. Even then I wanted to say, "Don't you understand? We don't want your cheese; we don't want your sympathy; we don't want to clean your houses. What we want is to be like you. We want to live in a nice house. We want to wear nice clothes. We want to be in a position to help others. We don't want cheese. We want the opportunity to be like you!"
This book is about women who decided many years ago that they did not want free cheese; they wanted instead to make comfortable lives for themselves. My gift to successful women who have faced stress is not a brick of American cheddar, but instead some hope, some advice and some validation. The story in this book is the result of a two-year study to explore the experiences of women who achieved highly in academics and who were also disadvantaged as children. The women were considered high achievers since they had earned advanced
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Publication information: Book title: From Disadvantaged Girls to Successful Women:Education and Women's Resiliency. Contributors: Pamela LePage-Lees - Author. Publisher: Praeger. Place of publication: Westport, CT. Publication year: 1997. Page number: 1.
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