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Marshall University's Student Newspaper

The Parthenon

Marshall University's Student Newspaper

The Parthenon

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Kat Williams Wishes Women’s History Farewell

Williams+gave+her+final+lecture+in+the+Shawkey+Dining+Room+on+Monday%2C+March+25.
Baylee Parsons
Williams gave her final lecture in the Shawkey Dining Room on Monday, March 25.

Putting in effort to make a change as a woman can inspire the women of future generations, a 23-year Marshall history professor said in her last lecture for the university on Monday, March 25.

“It is often the pursuit itself that makes history,” Kat Williams said in her lecture titled “Why Women’s History?” “Taking the risk to pick up that shovel, to speak up, to call out injustice, to walk onto a baseball diamond, to be different, apply for medical school or run for office is inspiring to those of us who watch you try.” 

Former students, fellow faculty members and Williams’ family and friends filled the Shawkey Dining Room of the Memorial Student Center to show their support for her past and future endeavors.

A former baseball player and now the CEO of the International Women’s Baseball Center, Williams pointed to the women in the movie “A League of Their Own” as a personal inspiration.

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“That was life altering,” she said in her lecture. “For the first time in my life, I realized I was part of a history.”

“I wasn’t just weird. I wasn’t just this stupid kid. I belonged to something,” she added.

Williams carried this sense of belonging over into her teaching, her former student Amanda Shaver said. 

“That’s the feeling she gives to her students: what you want to study, what you believe and who you are is important,” Shaver said. 

She went on to say, “Kat definitely taught me that women absolutely have a place in history—that I should do the type of history I want and not be hindered by anyone else’s perceptions of what history is, and that I belong in academic history.”

Williams also said she was equally inspired by her students, often gaining new perspectives because of them.

“My students helped me to understand that it’s not just me imparting knowledge to them, but it’s also about me learning from them,” Williams said. 

“I wanted them to understand that all perspectives matter, including theirs,” she said.

A women’s historian, Williams also discussed the importance of studying the topic in her lecture—despite women’s history receiving budget cuts and backhanded comments. 

“From openly challenging the need for such classes to quietly cutting the budgets that sustain them, from paying the faculty that teach those classes less than those who focus on more significant endeavors, to standing by while students are openly ridiculed for taking that class or that professor,” Williams said, “women’s history has been challenged, and the challenge is the why.”

History professor Montserrat Miller, who sat on the board responsible for hiring Williams, said it has been essential having Williams’ voice on campus. 

 “I hope this university will pursue the employment of another women’s historian,” Miller said. 

“Why women’s history? Kat has made that case today.”

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