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(Enlarge) Jan Fox, a former television reporter and anchor, speaks during the Women's Equality Day Observance on Aug. 23 at McGill Training Center. Using her own life as an example, Fox explained how women can live full lives. (Photo by Jen Rynda)

Former television reporter and anchor Jan Fox began her presentation at Fort Meade's Women's Equality Day Observance with a question.

"How many of you women feel like you're living to the fullest potential of your equality?" she asked. "Isn't it a heavy question to ask?"

Referencing her own life, from a poor childhood to winning four Emmy Awards, Fox explained how women can live fully thanks to the efforts of the women who came before them.

Fox's presentation was part of the annual observance held Aug. 23 at McGill Training Center and hosted by Fort Meade Dental Activity.

Women's Equality Day was designated in 1971 to commemorate the passage in 1920 of the 19th Amendment, which granted women the right to vote through a "massive peaceful, civil rights movement," DENTAC Sgt. Carla Ford narrated during the event.

Now a speakers coach who gives presentations to law groups, public relations firms, women's groups, chambers of commerce and conferences, Fox was the guest speaker for the free, 40-minute event.

Fox's background and achievements were a draw for Marine Maj. Beatriz Yarrish, commanding officer of the Marine Detachment.

"When I saw who the guest speaker was and her biography that was provided, I definitely wanted to come to attend to see her achievements and what advice she could provide to all the service members who were here today," she said.

At the start of her presentation, Fox displayed images of women who represent the women's equality movement. They included Marie Byrum, who was the first woman to vote, and a portrait monument of Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, pioneers of the women's suffrage movement.

To live to the fullest potential of equality, Fox said, individuals must empower themselves.

"When you think about empowerment, getting ourselves to our fullest potential, then we can fully stand freely in that equality that they gave us because of all the women that came before us," she said.

There are three "R's" to women's empowerment, Fox said. The first is resilience to overcome hardships and challenges. The second, represented by Rosie the Riviter, is resourcefulness.

"She had a positive attitude and she knew how to get it done," Fox said of the cultural icon of women factory workers during World War II. "How many of you women have had to walk through obstacles to get it done? We all have, but you know why we get through it? Because we see a path."

The final R, resolve, was demonstrated by Mae Jamison, the first African American woman astronaut.

"What do you think she had to do to wind her way through NASA to get that position?" Fox asked. "She had dedication, but she also had huge resolve."

Fox referred to her own experiences to explain how she used the three R's to empower herself after growing up in a poor household in Shelbyville, Ind., where she repaired shoes and delivered newspapers, and was abused by her mother.

"We don't get our resilience when something's handed to us on a silver platter," Fox said. "We get our resilience when we have to walk through the difficulties. It makes us tougher. When it looks tough, just find a little spot and let your resilience push you."

Fox also explained how her current position as a speech coach is an example of resourcefulness. After retiring from television, Fox saw the opportunity to help people speak and established her Fox Talks company. She said people need to have their eyes and ears open around them to see the opportunities and use resourcefulness to move forward.

Resolve also was evident in her television career when Fox was told she had a sibilant S and yelled while she reported. Through speech therapy, Fox overcame her problem and continued a successful television career.

"Keep your eye on the big prize," she said. "If you want to reach that full equality, if we want to stand in it freely, that's our job."

Having used her three R's throughout her life, Fox said she believes she lives to the fullest potential.

"I believe I can stand here free and equal," she said.

After the event, several audience members said they enjoyed Fox's presentation.

"I think she's a very gifted and talented individual," said Lt. Michelle Arthur of the 310th Military Intelligence Battalion. "She's done a lot with her life so far."

Yarrish agreed.

"I really enjoyed listening to how she overcame adversity and how she turned her personal struggles into her own personal powers to achieve what she's achieved in her life," Yarrish said.

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