Women Who Have Finished Strong

History is filled with inspiring women who have overcome obstacles and challenges to finish strong. They demonstrate what’s possible when you work hard, believe in your abilities, and never give up. They make a choice to keep going even when it’s hard to see a positive outcome on the other side of the challenge they face.

Here are a few examples of women who have finished strong. Let their stories inspire you to believe that anything is possible.

Elizabeth Blackwell – Be a Pioneer

Elizabeth Blackwell was the first woman in America to receive a medical degree, but it wasn’t a comfortable journey. In the 1840s, the few medical colleges that existed did not accept women. She was turned away time and time again. When she was finally accepted, it was actually meant to be a practical joke. While in school, she was seen to noncompliant with cultural gender roles and therefore faced discrimination, including exclusion from learning because she was a woman.

Despite being faced with what would seem like insurmountable odds and challenges, Elizabeth Blackwell kept going. She brought awareness to preventative care and encouraged medical professionals to wash their hands between patients. Through continued hard work and dedication, she graduated at the top of her class in 1849 and even went on to open a medical college for women. Her finish strong attitude made her a pioneer for women desiring to be in the medical field.

“It’s not easy to be a pioneer — but oh, is it fascinating!” – Elizabeth Blackwell

women finish strong - elizabeth blackwell

Photo credit: History News Network

Mae Jemison – Reach for the Stars

Mae Jemison is the first Africa-American female astronaut and the first African-American woman in space. She grew up with a love of science but was frustrated with the lack of female astronauts on her space programming. After seeing an African American actress on Star Trek, her dream of being an astronaut took off.

Jemison was a force in her education and early training. This non-stop attitude allowed her to graduate high school at 16, earn double Bachelor degrees from Stanford, graduate medical school from Cornell, and then join the Peace Corps. Her childhood dream came real she later applied to the training program at NASA and was one of the 15 candidates chosen out of 2,000.

She accomplished her goal but didn’t stop there. She went on to serve NASA for six years and then opened a consulting firm that works to ensure individuals can participate and contribute to society. She even landed her own spot on Star Trek. Mae Jemison looked at the stars and found a way to get there. 

“Don’t let anyone rob you of your imagination, your creativity, or your curiosity. It’s your place in the world; it’s your life. Go on and do all you can with it, and make it the life you want to live.”  – Mae Jemison

women finish strong - mae jemison

Photo credit: HuffPost

Brene Brown – Inspire Others

Brene Brown is a licensed social worker, best known for her studies and books on courage, vulnerability, and shame. She spent years asking hard questions, facilitating focus groups, and hearing individual’s stories. Brown started strong with interest in understanding people, but she didn’t stop there.

Brown’s strong finish comes from years of giving speeches, writing books, and being an advocate for imperfection. Through her research, storytelling, and hard work, she is inspiring people all over the world. Be sure to check out her popular TED talk and her new Netflix show, The Call to Courage.

“Vulnerability is not knowing victory or defeat, it’s understanding the necessity of both; it’s engaging. It’s being all in.” – Brene Brown

women finish strong - brene brown

Photo credit: Inc.com

Wilma Rudolph – Believe You Can

After surviving bouts of polio and scarlet fever as a child, doctors told Wilma Rudolph she would never walk again. At six years old, she started to hop on one leg, and by eleven, her mom found her playing basketball outside. She earned a bronze medal in the 4×100 relay at the Olympics while she was still in high school.

In 1960, she competed in the Olympics again and won three gold medals, broke at least three world records, and earned her the title of ‘fastest woman in the world.’ Her determination and belief that she could do anything make her one of the greatest examples of what it means to finish strong.

“My doctor told me I would never walk again. My mother told me I would. I believed my mother.” – Wilma Rudolph 

“I ran and ran and ran every day, and I acquired this sense of determination, this sense of spirit that I would never, never give up, no matter what else happened.” – Wilma Rudolph

women finish strong - wilma rudolph

Photo credit: Outside Magazine

U.S. Women’s Soccer Team – Fight Until the End

Fresh off the heels of winning back-to-back World Cups, the U.S. women’s soccer team demonstrates and inspires others to finish strong. The team has broken multiple records and become a global phenomenon. The teams hard work, relentless commitment, and unity show what’s possible when you never give up. They are now working to spotlight issues with income inequality and discrimination. 

“Always work hard, never give up, and fight until the end because it’s never really over until the whistle blows.” – Alex Morgan, Team Forward

women finish strong - alex morgan

Photo credit: Orlando City Soccer Club

Let these women inspire you to stretch beyond your usual limits and finish strong in areas you never thought were possible. There’s no limit to what you can achieve when you have a positive attitude, push past challenges, and believe in yourself.

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