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Alfred University's Women in Society class posts message of hope on Route 21 billboard
3/17/17

AU's Women in Society billboard message can be seen on Route 21 outside of Hornell.

AU's Women in Society billboard message can be seen on Route 21 outside of Hornell.

The billboard on the outskirts of Hornell on state Route 21 bears a quote from former Brazilian President Dilma Rouseff: “I hope the fathers and mothers of little girls will look at them and say, ‘Yes, women can.’”

It’s a message of hope that anyone driving from Alfred into Hornell can read, thanks to the efforts of Alfred University’s Women in Society class, offered through the University’s Women and Gender Studies program.

Alfred University Professor Sandra Singer, who is teaching the class in the current spring semester, says the billboard design is the work of Miranda Sakala, a second-year student in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and a resident of Olean.

Sakala’s design was one of 16 developed by students in the class, in a competition for best billboard design Singer organized when she first taught the class in 2014. It received the largest number of positive votes in a balloting Singer conducted once the students had finished and submitted their projects.

“The idea was to develop a sign that had a positive message about women and feminism,” Singer says, noting the designs had to be finished in time for the beginning of March – Women’s History Month in the U.S.

In 2014, Singer’s Women in Society class designed a poster that eventually adorned a billboard on state Route 36 north of Hornell. “I hoped people going in and out of Hornell would see it,” she says, “but I chose Route 21 this time, because fewer of our students got to see the sign in 2014 -- they don’t go in that direction.”

She adds the logistics of securing the billboard were a little easier this year. Three years ago, she had no idea how to contact a billboard company. She eventually tracked down the company that owned the billboard north of Hornell and used the same business for the current billboard site on Route 21.

“I’d never contacted a billboard company before,” she says. “I had to figure that one out.”