Women’s History Month: An Interview with Ms.Neria

Gina Campos, Photographer

Making its way from Women’s History Day, to Women’s History Week, the celebration of Women’s History now stands internationally recognized through the entirety of March in the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia. Since 1987, Women’s History Month has taken the time to both recognize and honor the notable contributions and achievements that female figures have obtained over the course of American history. 


32-year Downey High Government and Psychology teacher, Dolores Neria, delivers her insight on the significance and virtue behind the celebration of Women’s History movements in both America and surrounding countries who also take the time to honor this occasion. 


“Women’s history month is a time to acknowledge the accomplishments of different women. This is important because women are often overlooked and need to realize how difficult it is to be successful,” Neria adds, “Especially in fields dominated by men.”


Reflecting on the woman she is today, Neria credits the influence her mother served throughout her childhood and developmental years to her current shape of character and personality. Implementing the advice her mother gave her into her own life, Neria gained the resources and proper confidence necessary to prevail. 


“My mother has always been a role model for me. She sacrificed in order for her children to have a better life. She emphasized the need to take care of ourselves in order to be the best person we can be. She gave me many life lessons.” Neria adds, “She wanted her daughters to be independent and not depend on others financially or to fulfill our happiness.” 


As one of the first women to join Downey High’s History department in the 1989-1990 school year, Neria shares her struggles as an uprising minority in the field of education. Redirecting her discrimination as motivation, Neria comments on the spirit she sustained to counteract the many setbacks her place of work presented itself with. Despite the challenges she faced, Neria withstood her oppressions and found solace in being able to serve as a voice for her female students. 


“It was difficult at Downey in the History department because I was the only female. They were all kind to me, but there were many instances where they expected me to do all the work for professional tasks.” Neria says, “I stayed true to who I was even though I was different in many ways. I also would seek out support when I needed it. What kept me going was the young girls in my classes who deserved to hear history from a woman’s perspective.”


Speaking from firsthand experience, Neria acknowledges the stressors that come hand in hand with being not only any human, but a woman in the modern world. Neria urges the population of young girls and women to embrace their flaws and strive for self fulfillment rather than society’s damaging perceptions of “perfection”. 


“We need to stop being so hard on ourselves. I wanted to be the best teacher, wife, daughter and mother but over time realized that I am not perfect and sometimes I made mistakes. I learned to give myself some grace and try not to compare myself to others.” Neria claims,  “Love is the answer. To love those around you and especially love yourself.” 


Representing herself as well as the millions of other women celebrated during Women’s History Month, Neria remembers to stay “Strong, kind, and resourceful” -elements she believes best embody what it means to be a true woman.