Last Wednesday No Woman Left Behind (NWLB) and Bringing Residential Individuals to Discover General Equality (BRIDGE) hosted a discussion with Wendy Gradwohl, professor of business, in Woodlawn’s main lounge.
BRIDGE, a new campus group, focuses on bringing diversity programs into residence halls in order to expose more individuals to the vast diversity on Wittenberg’s Campus.
“I am trying to bring together the diversity-based groups around campus,” said Bethany McMillan, junior and president of BRIDGE. “Each month I chose an area of diversity that I want to focus my fliers and programs around. Especially because March is Women’s History Month, I thought No Woman Left Behind was a perfect choice. All involved were a blast to work with.
“I have noticed over my past three years here that there are many diversity-based groups around campus, but they don’t seem to really interact and their membership is limited due to multiple factors,” continued McMillan. “As a resident advisor, I have noticed that one of the main things we lack in the residence halls is the awareness of diversity. My goal is to bring awareness to and comfortability with all areas of diversity, specifically within the residence halls. I hope to create a more embracing community on Wittenberg’s campus.”
The discussion was based on personal testimony given from Gradwohl about her life, and specifically the role of faith.
Gradwohl, an Akron area native, has been at Wittenberg for 13 years, and spent six of those years as business department chair. She taught at Auburn University for four years prior to joining the Wittenberg faculty.
“This is an opportunity to share my life story,” said Gradwohl. “One of the only kids of Asian descent in a small town suburban neighborhood, I stuck out like a sore thumb.” She was born an only child, and was bullied relentlessly during her childhood, which pushed her to seek solace in her education. However, that came at a price of perfection, shared Gradwohl, who admitted that she was always striving to be perfect in her younger years of study. But soon she discovered that this was taking a toll, because academic work was taking total control of her life, and she had lost the one thing that truly mattered; her faith.
After not receiving tenure at Auburn, she said “it was one of the first times I had ever failed” and that it was really the “Lord closing one door and opening another.”
Gradwohl said the instant she stepped onto Wittenberg’s Campus, she knew she was home. “My love of teaching brought me to Wittenberg,” she said. “I discovered the Lord isn’t looking for perfection in us. I am who I am because I know who I am in Christ.”
Gradwohl sees no conflict with her faith and her gender, but rather the opposite, they embrace each other.
“The Bible is a love story between God and his people,” said Gradwohl. “Sometimes verses from the bible are misunderstood,” she continued in reference to versus written about women being created to serve men. “I sought validation of my worth through the men in my life. But when we seek man’s approval over God’s approval we do ourselves a disservice.”
However, since returning to Ohio, she has joined the Christian Life Center in Dayton and has realized that the great relationships she has developed reveal God’s beauty.
Through tears, Gradwohl spoke about her Wittenberg experience and said, “it is truly a blessing to be here.”