MARY E. WALKER
By: Rebecca Tippie
Dr. Robyn M. King
March 2, 2013
I chose Mary Edwards Walker as my leader for this final project. I have always enjoyed reading a little bit of military history and I always look for stories about people who have gone above and beyond the call of duty or went against the grain. In my opinion, she really set the bar high for other women to follow, and I find her to be an exemplary leader and role model for other women in the business world. Mary Walker was born on November 26, 1832 in Oswego, New York (Unknown, Women in History ). She can accredit her leadership style and personality to her father, Alvah. Her father was a farmer, abolitionist, and a self-taught doctor. During this time, most women did not attend school or work outside the home, but because Mary’s father believed that women should be well educated, he built the first schoolhouse in Oswego on their land known as the Bunker Hill Farm (Unknown, Women in History ). In addition, this farm served as a “station” in the Underground Railroad system that assisted southern slaves to freedom—mainly from western New York into Canada (D. L. Walker 29-30) . Alvah also believed that women’s clothing was too tight and because his daughters had to help on the farm, he prohibited them from wearing the traditional clothing and corsets (Unknown, Women in History ). When Mary turned 18, she spent two years at the Falley Seminary where she was taught Mathematics, Philosophy, Grammar, and Hygiene (D. L. Walker 30). She graduated and became a teacher; however, Mary really wanted to follow in her father’s footsteps and become a doctor. With the money she saved while teaching, Mary enrolled into the Syracuse Medical College in 1853 (Unknown, Women in History ). This was the first medical school in the United States and one of the few that accepted both men and women. Mary graduated in June of 1855 at the age of 21 after attending three 13-week semesters of medical training. She was the only woman in her graduating class, and only the second female doctor in the nation (Unknown, Women in History ). Shortly after graduation she went to her aunt’s hometown of Columbus, Ohio to open her own private medical practice. She was forced to close her practice and moved back to New York because women were not respected or trusted as doctors, and in 1856 she married one of her fellow college classmates, Albert Miller (Unknown, Mary Edwards Walker 2010). Their ceremony did not include the phrase “promise to obey,” she did not take his name, and her wedding attire was trousers and a dress-coat. They moved to Rome, New York to set up a joint medical practice but again society was not able to handle a female doctor so they were forced to close; in the end their marriage only lasted thirteen years (Unknown, Mary Edwards Walker Civil War Doctor). When the news of the losses from the Battle of Bull Run in July of 1861 reached Mary, she knew that she had finally found her calling and went to Washington, D.C. to offer her services (Unkown 2006). Mary finally arrived in October and found the Capital overflowing with sick and wounded soldiers in the makeshift hospitals that were set up wherever there was room . Ironically enough, Mary was denied to work as a medical officer for the Army. However, her strong will and determination to help and use her valuable skills she acquired from her medical degree led her to volunteer as a nurse where she eventually became the assistant surgeon to the hospital that was set up in the U.S. Patent Office. Due to her volunteer status Mary was able to move about freely and decided to organize the Women’s Relief Association, which provided lodging for the wives, mothers, and children of the soldiers. Dr. Mary Walker’s vision was simple, be true to yourself and never give up on your dreams. Mary lived by the creed, “whatever is right and true” (Harris 5). She maintained this vision...
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