After graduation, my “would-be” honorary founders and I scattered to pursue dreams and hopes to improve the lives of the people we loved. Several women married shortly after college, some later. Many of us ended up in places different than planned in our 20s but all achieved success, either professionally or personally or both.
Not long after I spoke to the Women’s Leadership Institute at Auburn, an invitation arrived to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Cater Society. The group didn’t ring a bell but after visiting the website, I was impressed by the caliber of women chosen.
Then one day an email arrived from my friend Laura – Laura had been the president of our initial group back in 1982 when we jokingly called ourselves Hearts. To our delight and surprise, the current Cater Society at Auburn initiated our original charter 10 years after our first attempt. The same Cater Society that sent the earlier invitation had successfully mentored outstanding senior women (and men!) for 20 years – we were stunned! Best of all, the current group wanted to meet the “founders.”
During the first weekend of February, 6 of the original 9 founders met at Lake Martin along with 14 of the 15 present Cater Society class. These young women are smart, incredibly giving and committed to mentoring future members. We were blown away by both their generous spirits and obvious talents. Prior to our meeting, not one of the founders had any idea that this group had grown from the seeds planted so long ago…
Before graduating, the founders tapped another group of women to carry on the mission of establishing the Cater Society. They, too, failed to gain approval from the university and the story thread was lost. Somehow, in 1992, our original charter was submitted and approved – and a new generation of developing and honoring leadership began.
The present Cater Society is very low key – the young women are not seeking recognition as a group. They often help sponsor campus events but prefer to work behind the scenes. The group meets regularly to share, support and mentor each other. Their hopes are to create an alumni network that graduating members may tap into as they move into full-time careers.
After meeting these amazing young women, my soul was truly moved. It was a little like an early “judgment day” in that I was granted a sneak peek at how our early efforts are now having a positive impact for 300+ women since 1992. To be credited as a founder is humbling, and an honor none of us ever dreamed would come to fruition. There is a part of my heart that is healed, and although the early scars still remain, the ache is gone, replaced by pride and a little bit of awe for these strong, captivating Cater women.
Those early seeds, cast upon stones, found a way to grow into beautiful blooms through perseverance and persistence. Somewhere, Dean Katherine Cater must be smiling…