Influential Women on MCC’s Campus
By Sarah Chavez
MCC Social Media and Communications Specialist
In March we celebrated Women’s History Month and reflected on the contributions women have made throughout history to our society and Waco community. While the month-long celebration is over, we will continue to celebrate their contributions and wanted to highlight some of the stories of influential women on the MCC campus who have changed the lives of many.
Growing up in a small town like Palestine, Texas inspired MCC professor and NAACP president of Waco Chapter, Dr. Peaches Henry to value community and equality which led her to create programs dedicated to young women in STEM and social justice programs.
During Henry’s elementary school days, her friends would run past and whisper to her that her dad was on campus. Her father prioritized her school’s community and showed up to the PTA meetings. Henry’s favorite memory is when her dad guaranteed her segregated elementary school was the first school in town to get air conditioning.
“My parents were involved in the NAACP. They instilled in me a desire to make sure that everyone had their rights. It came naturally to me because of my upbringing. I wanted to advocate on behalf of people. The NAACP is an organization that has been fighting for that for over a hundred years. I was inspired to become a part of that fight going forward,” Henry said.
Henry’s “Hidden Figures” STEM project based on the inspiring book and film motivates and empowers middle school girls to learn engineering, technology, science, and math. Henry recently saw one of the students who took this class and the student told Henry about how the program made her realize she could go to college and major in science.
“What we need to remember is that I may have impacted 50 or so girls, but each of those 50 girls will impact even more,” Henry said.
MCC’s Director of Visual & Performing Arts, Lise Uhl’s life has been influenced and changed by music from listening to Ella Fitzgerald records in her childhood home, to transferring to a university in Ohio for a music program, to meeting her husband at the Waco Civic Theatre in the production of “Brigadoon”.
This summer, Uhl will celebrate 43 years of working at MCC. She says the program’s growth is more than she could have expected. After establishing a real budget, the program turned around because they finally had the budget for productions and costumes.
“I mean, I just did what I had to do to make it go, to deliver the program. It went from little, tiny productions with pianos to full scale operas,” Uhl said.
Extra time and effort from the theatre faculty is how the program thrived. Faculty helped with costumes and production sets with no credit or payment. She was thrilled and grateful for their willingness to put in extra time for the program.
“At the time, these were the very best people in the world. They were not receiving any payment for it. They were doing it out of the goodness of their hearts. I’m grateful to Danny Vamos for seeing that vision with me,” Uhl said.
Uhl hopes in the future the program will have a stronger relationship with four-year universities and create a music degree for students to continue their education at MCC.
“We have a lot of students who come here for a music degree. They get their start here. They’re here for two years and that goes fast for them. Many of them are hesitant to move on because they’re so comfortable here. They like the way they are taught,” Uhl said.
These are just a few of the stories out of the many strong, influential women who have changed the lives of many at MCC and in the greater Waco community.