By Noel Hincha – Like every other first-year student at Marquette, I felt a little culture shock in the transition from high school to college. I sat in lecture halls of 100 peers, roamed around campus on my own schedule without the help of bells and hallways to find my way, had to make even better decisions of time management and association; however, the greatest culture shock was the other gender: men. I came from an all-girl’s Catholic high school. Now I attend a co-ed Jesuit University.
A little background: I cannot say I lived inside a “woman-cave” for four years without the presence of men, nor can I say my high school was particularly special. Our hallways, although, highly decorated and vibrant with light wafts of unbaked cookies and putrid, bathroom odors, were normal. Our classrooms, although, filled with the screens of iPhones, smell of taco dip, and an amusing but respectful atmosphere, were normal. Our school, although, a winner of awards in sports, academics, arts, and theatre, was normal. It was the girls and faculty who made my high school special, if anything; it was them who made me become confident and capable, to see the world through a feminist’s perspective. Allow me to share.
- What is makeup? The first thing I tried to ease the transition into college was to wear makeup. It lasted a week, and I was through with petty eyeliner, stabbing myself with mascara wands, and frantically trying to find brushes. Back in the day of an all-girl’s school, I and everyone else were relatively comfortable being bare-faced and beautiful without artificial compounds. I suppose the confidence carried over to college; I can impress someone with a little wittiness better than with a little Cover Girl.
- Pride and a lot of prejudice. Walking around O-Fest, I noticed the diverse array of student organizations ranging from Fencing to Gender Sexuality Alliance to Latin-American Student Organization and everything in-between. A few days later, I mentioned GSA to a friend of mine. A relatively meaningful conversation about the gay community within our society ensued, but ended abruptly when I was confused about something to which he replied: “Shouldn’t you know about that stuff? You know, coming from an all-girl’s school.” I proceeded with a rant about women and sexuality. It was one of the first wakeup calls I encountered about prejudice toward an all-girl’s school.
- Choosing wisely. At the end of the day, an all-girl’s school personally taught me to love my friends because boys come and go. I see girls – whether they went to a co-ed high school or not – fawn over boys and ditch their friends only to end up lost and heartbroken within a few weeks, but “been there, done that.” A school where the best support comes from girls who encourage and love each other changes one’s social perspective. The world no longer revolves around boys and begging for their affection. One facet of feminism I learned taught me to be confident and capable, independent and strong. I find it cliché, but I can follow my own ambitions efficiently with or without someone by my side.
An all-girl’s school is an educational choice, and perhaps, this is merely a platform for me to express gratitude; a thanks to my high school education for instilling in me a sense of confidence to love myself, a capability to find pride in my identity.