My Lola

By Arzie Umali

My family came to America when I was a little girl. Although it wasn’t the plan, we ended up staying and making a life here. As I was growing up, most of my family was in the Philippines, including my grandparents, so I never got to know them very well. The person who I came to know as my “grandmother,” was the woman my father met when he first arrived in Kansas City. She was a widow and didn’t have any children of her own, so she “adopted” our family. She became our Lola. 

She was not like my friends’ grandmothers. She didn’t bake, she didn’t sew, she didn’t garden, she didn’t decorate her house with lace or flowers. My Lola liked to drink beer. She drove a Mustang. She went hunting. She loved to travel. Her house was a mid-century modern ranch that was decorated with a bear-skin rug (from a bear she shot herself) and exotic carpets, furniture, and art that she picked up on her travels.  

My Lola taught me how to be strong and independent. She owned her own company. She was what my parents called a “workaholic.” She left for her office in the morning and came home late at night. I often stayed up to wait for her and when she got home, we would drink tomato juice and eat peanut butter on crackers.   

My Lola was always the boss, and she taught me that there was nothing wrong with being bossy. She would bring my brothers and me to work with her and we could tell right away that she was in charge. We would go to meetings with her and play under the big conference table while she talked about grown-up stuff with the other people in the room — mostly men. She was smart and confident, but also kind and generous — one of the most generous people I’ve ever known. She always made sure everyone was taken care of and treated fairly. 

My Lola died when I was 13. I haven’t really had a grandmother-figure in my life for the 40 years since. But what she left with me was my sense of independence and empowerment. So, when I was in middle school (shortly after she passed away) and a teacher told me that by being disagreeable I wasn’t acting “lady-like” — even though I stood there stiff and in shock at those words I had never heard before — I remembered my Lola and told myself, yes I was. 

This story is part of Her Life as Art: Coming Together Through Grandmother Stories, a unique, multi-dimensional, week-long series of events celebrating the wisdom and legacy of the grandmother figures in our lives, taking place Nov. 6 – 12, 2021 at the Kansas City United Church of Christ, 205 W. 65th St. KCMO, 64113. We invite you to view the art exhibit and attend other related events. For details, please visit


Seeking individuals to participate in

Her Life as Art: Coming Together Through Grandmother Stories

a special community project led by the Kansas City United Church of Christ, the UMKC Women’s Center, and the Mo-Kan Heart Quilt Guild


This art exhibit is central to a unique, multi-dimensional, week-long series of events. This call for artists is open to all individuals, of all skill levels who wish to celebrate the wisdom and legacy of the grandmother figures in their lives.

You may participate by:

  1. creating a 16” x 16” art quilt that tells the story of the importance of this grandmother figure in your own life, or
  2. by submitting an item created by your grandmother figure. This may be a poem, drawing, recipe, quilt, dress, apron, piece of pottery, doll, etc…(Please include a short explanation of your chosen This is an exhibit only. Artwork will not be for sale.)

This exhibit will be open to the public during the week of Saturday, November 6 – Friday, November 12, 2021 at Kansas City United Church of Christ (KCUCC), 205 West 65th St., Kansas City, MO 64113 

To Participate:

Drop off or mail your completed entry form to KCUCC (see address above) or email to: Jean Ayres, before Monday, October 25

  • Bring your entry to the church Tuesday, November 2, 10:00 a.m.-12 noon.
  • Pick up your entry Saturday, November 13, 10 a.m.-12 noon.

Organizing Committee:

Jean Ayres, KCUCC

Judy Long O’Neal, KCUCC

Karen Hartzler, KCUCC

Arzie Umali, UMKC Women’s Center

Sherry Dicus, Mo-Kan Heart Quilt Guild

Yvette Morton – Mo-Kan Heart Quilt Guild

For entry form, contact Jean Ayres,

AAUW Opportunity for Leadership Development

The National Conference for College Women Student Leaders (NCCWSL) is an annual event held over a three-day period at the University of Maryland. This year it will be May 31 – June 3. The Conference brings together students from all over the United States to participate in workshops, hear women in national and global leadership roles speak, and be encouraged to become leaders on campus and beyond. Attendance was nearly 1000 students in 2016. As America’s premier conference for college women, the conference provides a transformative experience for attendees and prepares them to be the next generation of leaders. Each attendee becomes a part of the 30-year legacy of the conference.

  • Choose from more than 50 workshops that prepare them for life after college.
  • Meet incredible role models including Women of Distinction awardees and speakers.
  • Make connections for life.
  • Discover their future from more than eighty graduate schools and employers.
  • Gain the confidence and skills to return to their campuses and communities ready to take action.

Because the Kansas City AAUW branch considers this to be such an outstanding event, it is sponsoring one scholarship for an undergraduate student from one of our local AAUW Partner Member colleges/universities to attend the Conference. The scholarship, not to exceed $1000, will cover registration expenses which includes most meals, room accommodations, and travel.

The student must be recommended by you as the AAUW College/University representative and meet the requirements on the application form. A deadline of March 8 for submission of the application has been set. Selection will be based upon the student’s prior leadership endeavors, with an emphasis on campus involvement. We are encouraging you to nominate your student as soon as possible, or at least let us know if you will be nominating someone.

There are other NCCWSL scholarships (covers registration fee) available and AAUW-KC strongly encourages students to apply for them. The application process for these national scholarships can be found on the website/NCCWSL. The national NCCWSL scholarship deadline is February 28.

It’s rewarding to see students come back from the Conference full of enthusiasm and confidence. She will enhance her campus with what she’s learned.

Applications available at the Women’s Center, 105 Haag Hall. Deadline to apply is 3:00 p.m. March 8. Contact Arzie Umali, or 816-235-5577.

For further conference information, please contact Patti Jachowicz, AAUW-KC Chair, College/University Partnerships, at or 224-558-7757.


AAUW Scholarship Opportunity


Attention Students!

The Reentry Woman Scholarship Award sponsored American Association of University Women (AAUW) is up for grabs now! The award is worth $500 and is available to students who meet the following qualifications:

  1. The student has been out of school for at least five years before returning.
  2. The student is currently enrolled as a full OR part-time student.
  3. The student has not yet completed a bachelor’s degree.
  4. The student has completed at least 30 hours of undergraduate credit, 15 of which have been completed since reentry.
  5. The student has a GPA of 3.0 or higher.

Contact Arzie Umali ( for more information, or to submit an application.


Wonder Women: SHEroes, Freedom Fighters, and Women Who Kick Butt!

By Arzie Umali

untitledCurrently on display at the Leedy-Voulkos Art Center is the exhibit Wonder Women: SHEroes, Freedom Fighters, and Women Who Kick Butt! Despite its title, the exhibit is not about comic books or video games. Nor does it feature provocatively posed damsels wielding weapons. This Wonder Women exhibit is about real life women who are superheroines of our art community doing what they do best: seeking truth and justice through the work that they create, driven by their passions and their creative spirit.

The Superheroines of this exhibit are local artists Michelle Beasley, Nedra Bonds, Nicole Emanuel, Ritchie Kaye, Eugenia Ortiz, and Sonie Ruffin. Each of the artists in this exhibit on her own is a wonder woman. They are activists, advocates, and change makers in the community who create art and imagery that evoke the strength, courage, and resilience of the empowered woman. Michelle Beasley’s works are each autobiographical, revealing her multifaceted life and a reality shared by so many women. Nedra Bonds’ textiles are portraits and portrayals of women past and present who represent the diverse history and struggles of women. Nicole Emanuel’s works take opposing views of wonder women: the superficial, fictionalized women depicted in her comic- book- covered, six-foot “Wonder Bra” versus the more natural, realist rendering of two women posed on opposite end of a large canvas. Ritchie Kaye’s larger than life photo of four properly posed women invites us to wonder about the varied lives of women, where what one see’s on the surface may not always be what rests below the surface.  Eugenia Ortiz’s works in sculpture and on canvas are rich with color and heavy with texture evoking the emotions of conflict, healing, and transformation. And Sonie Ruffin’s textiles tell stories of the African American experience and remind us of the multicultural world we live in and a past we shouldn’t forget.

Together the works in this exhibit create a conversation about women. The viewer is asked to join the conversation and consider the unique and diverse lives of all women, the experiences that they have, and the actions that they take that make them true wonder women.

A reception will be held at the Leedy-Voulkos Art Center on First Friday, March 7, 4:30 – 6:00 p.m. and will include a brief talk by each artists. The reception is free and open to all; however, registration is requested at Wonder Women is sponsored by the UMKC Women’s Center’s Her Art Project. The mission of the project is to support the creative achievements of local women artists and advance gender equity in the arts. To learn more about the Her Art Project please visit or like us on Facebook at

A Women’s Center for Everyone

WC_Logo-2COLOR-FBy Arzie Umali

The Women’s Center has had a home at UMKC for over 40 years; however, every day, someone new walks through our doors, attends one of our events, or discovers us on the internet.  That is what is so great about the Women’s Center. It is available and accessible to everyone.  It is a place to come when you want to meet people or you need some extra support. It is a staff of creative, passionate people who plan programs and events to educate you and raise your awareness about gender issues so that you feel inspired to get involved. And it is a service that helps you find resources for women, learn about the multicultural realities of women, and stay informed about current events that affect women. Our mission is to advocate, educate, and provide support services for the advancement of women’s equity on campus and within the community at large, and as a place, a staff, and a service for our students we strive to make this happen.

The Women’s Center is located in 105 Haag Hall. It is a convenient location for students who need a space to study between classes, finish up homework, or meet up with friends. We are open every weekday from 8 AM to 5 PM and we encourage all students to take advantage of our study lounge with computers and a comfy couch, conference room, and kitchenette. For nursing mothers we offer a private and secure lactation room with refrigerator for storing breast milk. And if it’s a book on women’s and gender topics you are looking for, our friendly staff is always happy to help you find a book in our library. The Women’s Center also houses the Violence Prevention and Response Project, where you can pick up information and resources about gender violence, stalking, and sexual assault, or stop by and speak to our Victim Services Adjudication Advisor if you need extra support. Our center really is about having a safer space to go when you need help, when you need to get away, or even if you need to see a friendly smile.

If activism and getting involved are what you want from your college experience, attending one or all of the Women’s Center’s programs is what you need to do. We offer a number of events that will raise your awareness about gender disparities and inspire you to get involved.  Through our Violence and Prevention Project we offer programs on sexual assault prevention to create a safer campus community.   This semester, our V-Day programs will begin in February with information tables at various locations across campus that will offer information about the international movement to end violence against women and girls. On February 19, we will be partnering with the UMKC Men of Color Initiative to offer a workshop just for men to discuss their own responsibilities in ending violence toward women. And on the evening of Tuesday, March 4, at the Student Union Theater, we will present a benefit performance of The Vagina Monologues, which includes a diverse cast of women from the UMKC student body, staff and faculty, as well as women from the community.  For more details about all our V-Day programs or to purchase tickets to The Vagina Monologues, please visit the V-Day UMKC website at

The Women’s Center also hosts a number of events that recognize the accomplishment of women and focus on gender equity. During the week of February 24,  we will be presenting Every Body is Beautiful Week, a series of programs that addresses eating disorders and negative body image as barriers to women’s achievement.  These programs are offered as a campus-wide effort in partnership with the UMKC Counseling Center, Office of Student Involvement, UMKC Athletics, Swinney Recreation Center, Office of Multicultural Student Affairs, and Student Health and Wellness to create more body positive messaging and ideals for women and girls. In March during Women’s History Month we will offer a trivia contest challenging our campus community’s knowledge of the accomplishments of women in history.  And on April 8, we will host an Equal Pay Day event to raise awareness of the pay disparities that women in America still face. All of these events are meant to engage our students in the unique experiences of all women.

The Women’s Center also addresses the issue of gender discrimination in the arts through the Her Art Project we address the issue of gender discrimination. This semester our programs will celebrate Wonder Women at two exciting events.  First, we are presenting a group art exhibit at the Leedy-Voulkos Art Center in the historic Crossroads Arts District. The exhibit will run February 7 – March 29 and will feature six local women artists who are superheoines of the local arts community and who create works that represent the strength, courage, and resilience of the empowered woman.  On the evening of April 22 at the Kansas City Public Library Plaza Branch, we will be hosting award-winning filmmaker Kristy Guevara-Flanagan for a screening and discussion of her documentary WonderWomen! The Untold Story of American Superheroines. Both of these events focus on creative women as leaders, change-makers, and inspirations to the next generation of Wonder Women. For more information about these, and all of our events this semester, visit our website,

Finally, the Women’s Center is a vital resource for everyone, not just women, and not just student at UMKC or people in our community. We are here for everyone and available to everyone, 24-7, on the worldwide web. Through our website,, you can access resources for women, check out our calendar for events happening on campus as well as in the community for women, and learn about the staff and history of the Women’s Center. Through our Blog,, you can get insight on current topics about women from articles written by our own student staff. And on our Social Media sites (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Flickr) you can find information, photos, and news about what’s happening at the Women’s Center and around the world. As you can see, the Women’s Center is more than just a mission statement. It’s a place, it’s a staff, and it’s a service dedicated to making UMKC and our community a safer, more equitable world for everyone.

For more information about the UMKC Women’s Center, please stop by 105 Haag Hall or visit us at

Girls Can Be More Than Just a Princess

When it comes to toys, the options for little girls have been limited to baby doll, tea set, and tiara. The “pink aisle” at Toys R Us and other retailers have been sending the message to girls for years that they will grow up to be a mommy, a housewife, or a princess.  In a recent article, the new toy company Goldie Blox finally says enough is enough. And after a hugely successful Kickstarter campaign, Debbie Sterling, the female engineer from Stanford University who founded the company, developed toys to ‘prove to the world that engineering for girls is a mainstream concept.’ Check out the oh-so-awesome commercial


Support Women Student Filmmakers at CineWomen

Join us this Thursday, March 14th, at the Screenland Crossroads for CineWomen: A Refreshing Showcase of Women in Film. Our evening begins at 6:00 PM with a panel discussion, followed by a screening of ten short films by area women filmmakers. After the screening, we’ll have a Q&A session and the end the evening with a reception and networking opportunities.


For more information about this and other Her Art Project events, visit us online. Come by the Women’s Center at 105 Haag Hall, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter.

Wine Tasting and Networking is a Success!

By Joseph Salazar

IMG_7472Last week’s Wine Tasting and Networking Event at the Blue Room was a fun and lively event. Over 50 members of the UMKC and Kansas City communities came out for a night of jazz, wine and good times.




IMG_7499Attendees sampled six different types of wine and tested the accuracy of their palates by guessing which sample went with which type. The red wines, including a complex Malbac and smooth Pinot Noir were challenging for even seasoned tasters to distinguish. However, even the amateur wine enthusiasts were able to distinguish between the white wines, which included a Chardonnay and sweet Moscato.


IMG_7484Many of our guests were old friends but the event was also a great opportunity to make new friends and professional contacts under a cloud of smooth jazz sounds. We loved getting to meet a group of sorority sisters from Delta Phi Beta and were thrilled that Dr. Frisch from job the Department of Urban Planning brought a faculty candidate. We were happy that so many people came out and joined us for a night of fun.


Join us on for our next Her Art Project events on Tuesday, March 12 and Thursday, March 14. For more information on these and other events, please visit the Women’s Center on the web, like us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter.


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