UNO alumna turned teacher plans 19th Amendment celebration

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Maddie Robertson
CONTRIBUTOR

Marian High School logo. Courtesy of Marian

On Aug. 18, 2020, the 19th Amendment, which granted women the right to vote, is turning 100—and Marian High School English teacher Susie Sisson plans to celebrate.

Sisson, who earned her master’s degree in educational administration from the University of Nebraska at Omaha in 2003, said the centennial had been in the back of her head for many years.

“I teach women’s studies, so I’m sort of immersed in women’s history,” Sisson said. “I begin the class with a unit about the suffrage movement.”

She said the school’s day-long celebration of “HERstory” will take place at Creighton Preparatory School on Sept. 25.
Marian will be joined by students from Mercy High School and Duchesne Academy for a total of about 1,400 participants, Sisson said.

“I was very excited to hear the news about the celebration, especially when I heard the other schools were getting involved. I think it will be very empowering, inclusive and unifying between our schools,” said Marian senior Kelly Williams.

The three schools rarely collaborate, Sisson said.

“We have slightly different missions and we’re run by different orders, but we all want the same things for our students,” Sisson said. “Our values are very in sync.”

Sisson said the day will begin with an opening session and a prayer to honor the Catholic identity of the three schools. Several breakout sessions on “a wide variety of topics” will follow a keynote speaker’s address.

“My overall vision is to put as many smart and interesting women in front of our students as we can,” Sisson said. “The speaker should be someone who, in her personal or professional life, is doing things to empower women.”

She said she plans to contact the UNO Women’s and Gender Studies and Black Studies programs and is open to recommendations from other sources.

“I want a diversity of speakers, I want lots of ages, I want different backgrounds,” Sisson said. “Really, someone who has committed to making women’s lives better, someone who has an interesting story to tell.”

Williams said she hopes for “a woman in STEM, computer science, engineering or a female politician” and women working in male-dominated professions.

In the opening session, Sisson said, she plans to be “transparent” with the history of women’s suffrage, recognizing that not all women had the right to vote after the amendment’s ratification.

“I’m really excited,” said Courtney Kilroy, a junior political science major at UNO. “I think it’s a good opportunity for some of the young women of Omaha to learn about a comprehensive, collective history.”

Kilroy, who graduated from Marian in 2018, said “the definitions of being a woman and feminist are changing” and that “it’s important for girls to know where we’ve been and where we can go.”

To end the celebration, Sisson said, she plans to hold a parade as a “historic nod” to the suffrage movement.

“This is a big deal, and I want to make a big deal of it,” Sisson said.

To contact Sisson, email bsisson@omahamarian.org.

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