The Top: Inspirational Women According to UCR Staff

UCR employees talk up the women who lit up their lives

Happy Women’s History Month from UCR Strategic Communications! Photo courtesy of Lisa Bird

Welcome to The Top!

Each issue, we present a list of UCR staff and faculty favorites — from walking spots to gardens to events. This week, in honor of March being Women’s History Month, we asked a few UCR staffers to answer the question, “Who is a woman that has inspired you and why?” Here are their responses!

If you have something you’d like featured in The Top or an activity you’d like to share, email kris.lovekin@ucr.edu!

1. Tamica Smith Jones, director of athletics

Tamica Smith Jones

Tamica Smith Jones

“The woman that most inspires me is indisputably my mother, Ruth Smith Holmes, the pastor, co-founder and leading lady of Light of the World Ministries and International Association headquartered in Stockbridge, Georgia.

“She has been the stabilizing factor in my life that has always pushed me towards my greatest potential. Growing up, I saw her balance work and family as a corporate executive at then Bell South phone company. Although not a sports fanatic, she had a significant impact on my professional journey. Raising a daughter who had ‘a ball and a dream‘ to earn a full scholarship to college, she insisted that I stick with sports and remain scholarly – and that I did.

“My mother taught me to be authentic, trustworthy, disciplined in all my ways and to persevere towards my goals without making excuses. She taught me teamwork when she remarried as I had to quickly transition from the oldest to the middle child of a blessed, blended family.

“Years later, she is still my most admired as a model mother, endearing grandmother to my two children, mentor, spiritual counselor and voice of reason on days I am challenged. She is also my best friend so we plan quality time together and our most fun is spent traveling. (Our next trip is to Kenya, Africa for missions in April!) Even as an established adult I keep her on speed dial and call her every few days just to let her know I love and appreciate her very much. I hope to always be there when she needs me because I owe her my life.”

Tamica (left) with her mother, Ruth Smith Holmes, who she describes as a "global leader with a common touch."

Tamica (left) with her mother, Ruth Smith Holmes (right), whom she describes as a “global leader with a common touch.”

2. Mark Manalang, communications specialist, School of Public Policy

Mark Manalang

Mark Manalang

“Professor Susan Straight was the reason I came to UCR’s creative writing program back when I was still a student. Being a Riversider myself, her stories about Rio Seco (her fictional stand-in for Riverside) really resonated with me and she inspired me to write about my hometown, as well as to write, period. Not only does she serve on the Academy of Distinguished Teachers at UCR, but she is also the Director of the Master of Fine Arts Program at UC Riverside; how inspiring is that?

Sheryl Sandberg is a constant font of inspiration for me. She is the Chief Operating Officer of Facebook, an author, a former Google executive, a Harvard graduate and the founder of the nonprofit Lean In. Sandberg is a strong and tactful businesswoman and a benevolent philanthropist. She was the first woman to join Facebook’s board and continues to pursue breaking barriers for women in the workforce. She continues to encourage women to pursue education and careers through her charity Lean In. Nothing is more inspiring than someone who uses her success to help others and last year she donated a whopping $31 million to a plethora of charities close to her heart.

Mari Smith, also known as ‘the Queen of Facebook,’ is a great source of inspiration. Smith is an expert on Facebook marketing and has been named one of the Top Ten Social Media Power Influencers by Forbes four years in a row. She is an incredibly intelligent businesswoman with untouchable talents in all things social media. I am inspired by Mari because her business acumen and internet marketing savvy have allowed her to shine in the cut-throat social media industry. Smith will always inspire me and all those who also have passion for social media marketing.”

Mark Manalang lists Susan Straight, UCR professor of creative writing, as one of the three women that he is most inspired by.

Susan Straight is a professor of creative writing at UCR.

3. Ross French, digital communications coordinator, School of Medicine

Ross French

Ross French

“I owe a great deal of my life and career to the actions of a woman named Melissa Lalum, who in 1990 was the sports editor of the UC Santa Barbara Daily Nexus student newspaper and who hired me as a sportswriter despite my not having a huge amount of journalistic experience. She gave me a great opportunity and taught me some of the writing and editorial skills that I still use today. She also taught me a lot about strength of character and leadership as I watched her deal with a very testosterone-heavy work environment.

“Working at the Nexus gave me the chance to work with an amazing number of talented individuals – writers, photographers, artists, who I am proud to still count among my friends. Most significantly, if Melissa hadn’t hired me or been willing to work with me, I probably would not have met my wife, Christine.

“After she left UCSB, Melissa went into a career in journalism and was an editor at the Los Angeles Daily News for a time. She later went on to oversee the journalism program at Cal State Northridge. We remain friends to this day and I often tell her how grateful I am that she took a chance on me way back then.”

Ross French and Melissa Lalum

Ross French (left) said that Melissa Lalum (right) is a woman that inspires him most.

4. Nancy Jean Tubbs, director of the LGBT Resource Center

Nancy Jean Tubbs

Nancy Jean Tubbs

“During this election year, I keep hearing the voice of the late Molly Ivins in my head. Oh I wish she were around to shine her smart, penetrating, and just plain funny political commentary on these candidates for office.

“Molly Ivins was born in California but spent most of her life as a columnist, author and humorist in Texas, a fertile ground for political shenanigans. As a college student, I often felt isolated for my beliefs regarding social justice and for my unwillingness to be the ‘polite Texas woman.’ You must hold on to a sense of humor when you are a liberal growing up in Texas and Molly was a tremendous role model for me and so many others.

“She taught me to be engaged, to ask questions, to be loud and for heaven’s sake, VOTE. Listen to Molly when she says, ‘So keep fightin’ for freedom and justice, beloveds, but don’t you forget to have fun doin’ it. Lord, let your laughter ring forth. Be outrageous, ridicule the fraidy-cats, rejoice in all the oddities that freedom can produce.'”

Molly Ivins Photo courtesy of Time

Molly Ivins was a columnist, author and humorist. Photo courtesy of TIME

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