Robin Torres, Assistant Dean of Student Engagement & Leadership

"Phenomenal Woman"
by Maya Angelou

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I'm not cute or built to suit a fashion model's size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I'm telling lies.
I say,
It's in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I'm a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

Read hear the full poem

This poem was given to me by my High School English teacher. She was also the Dean of Students, and a central figure in my life growing up on the Lower East Side in New York City. I was a six-foot-tall, plus-sized, student government leader learning to walk in her own shoes. While I was an undergrad, I had the opportunity to hear Maya Angelou recite this in person, and this gave an introduction to "Still I Rise," which has also inspired me during a boxed in moment or two in my 20s, but this poem continues to give and that teacher, Mrs. Hannah Hess, is still a powerhouse and a presence in my life. Her first novel, "Honest Deceptions," was published, in her 80th year.

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