Carrie Wolverton women's history month

Celebrating women in eye banking

The value of woman mentors

By Carrie Wolverton, Global Development Director 
“On the day my daughter was born, I decided she would never know what it means to be small, soft, and passive. It was a dream that she would live in a world where there were no ‘female leaders’ but just leaders.’”
Sheryl Sandberg

As a girl growing up in a small rural farming community in the ‘80s, the societal expectations pushed onto me were not all negative, but many were unrealistic. From a very young age, girls learn to be kind, gentle, and quiet. All the while young boys were rewarded for their determination and drive, which I admired. In high school, I wasn’t handed a college application but a job application, with the promise of making money working in a factory. The only other option: get married and start a family. 

Fast forward two years later, I worked two jobs and had money, benefits, and a car. I was engaged and had an apartment. I thought I was living the “American dream.” My mentor at the time was a highly educated woman who received her PhD from the University of Michigan. I admired so many things about her; she was everything I wanted to be. Her confidence, humor, and drive were inspiring. 

She was seen unfavorably by the men in her industry, but her success proved otherwise. She could see that I desired more and that I needed to grow. Under her guidance, she set me on a new course that would lead me into the next chapter of my life. I earned a Bachelor of Science in biology from the University of Michigan five years later. However, during those five years of study, I remained small, soft, and passive as I was in a program that was predominantly male at the time. 

Soon after, I began a career at the Michigan Eye Bank, now known as Eversight. This is where my real growth began. I walked in on my first day in 2001 and met our President and CEO, Florence Johnston, someone I came to admire greatly. There is no question in my mind that working at Eversight, in the positions that I have, has empowered me in ways I would have never imagined or expected. My life has been both enhanced and enriched tenfold. My daughter would never know her mother as anything other than determined and driven. This is all thanks to my many mentors, not only at Eversight, but within the entire field of eye banking and beyond.   

Currently, I am the Global Development Director at Eversight, an organization with a high representation of women in senior leadership positions. Diane Hollingsworth, our current President/CEO, is a true inspiration and a beacon of light. 

So, as we recognize Women’s History Month, I am proud to celebrate the progress made toward achieving gender equality and women’s empowerment. I am honored to work for an organization where there is diversity, equity, and inclusion. It’s rewarding to witness a new global dimension for women in developed and developing countries, and it is my hope that someday, I will be someone’s beacon of light and inspire others in a way that my female predecessors have inspired me. 

Editor’s note: This perspective was originally published by the Eye Bank Association of America in celebration of Women’s History Month. 

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