How do Round-up, Mentoring, and Women’s History all get roped up together? It starts with the inspiring message shared by Kam Phillips at TedexCoMo in 2013 during her talk, Mentorship Will Change the World. She offers her own experiences as living proof of the value of the inputs of a mentor.
“I believe that there are all of these things we can do. We can create cures for cancer, we can create all of these things, but how did the little girl who was raised in a barn riding bareback and barefoot get to this? Get to shaking hands with the President and talking with him about Mizzou basketball? It’s mentorship.”
The picture that she paints about mentoring is as custom made for Pendleton, Oregon, as the 2019 official round-up poster by Donna Howell-Sickles is for women’s history month. Both are rosy and full of exuberance, but similar to women’s history, these representations are built on plenty of time, sweat, and had their ups and downs.
In Kam’s case, she describes the lessons learned as a blue ribbon rodeo cowgirl. When she was flying too high, her father insisted, “ It’s nice to be important, but more important to be nice.” In the case of Bonnie Mc Carroll’s career, her downs proved fatal in a terrible bronc riding accident at the 1929 Pendleton Round-up. The repercussions kept women down for many years. In a brief article on the Round-up in Pendleton, author William F Willingham explains that, “Until 1929, tough-as-nails cowgirls competed in horse racing, bronc busting, and trick roping events. The accidental death of bronc rider Bonnie McCarroll led to the banning of women contestants at the Round-Up for over seventy years. Women contestants returned to the Round-Up in 2000 in the barrel-racing event.”
Prior to the accident, Bonnie was on the up-side for many years as an accomplished cowgirl, but it is Kathleen McClintock who earned pride of place in the view of the public with her image cast in bronze and a plaque that situates her as Queen of the 1929 Round-up Court: Yes, that’s the same year that Bonnie was fatally thrown. The plaque that dedicates her likeness (see above images) includes a quote about her from Round-up business manager George Baer, “Miss McClintock was queen of our 1929 Round-up, and I believe by far the most popular young lady to have ever acted in that capacity. She is a charming girl.” Many years later, Kam got advice from her father that privileged the way she presented herself over just winning. Watching her present on mentorship and considering her many successes brings to life the history of these women who came before her and shared their ups and downs in ways that shaped the future of women’s history.
-Suzanne Church, AmeriCorps VISTA Mentor Coordinator
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