This week's cover model proves that you can be an incredibly strong woman and serve your country while maintaining your femininity and embracing your sense of style and beauty.
Retired Maj. Gen. Rita Aragon, secretary of military and veterans affairs for Oklahoma, modeled gowns by Stillwater designer Stella Thomas to promote a fashion event that benefits military women and civilian single mothers.
Aragon is part of “A Journey Around the World For Military & Women: An Arts & Fashion Event,” set for 6 p.m. Saturday in the ConocoPhillips Alumni Center at the Oklahoma State University in Stillwater.
The event will include a speech by Aragon; dinner and wine; a runway fashion show of Thomas' new eveningwear line; and performances by Miss Oklahoma 2012 Alicia Clifton, Miss OSU 2013 Michelle Langford, Miss Oklahoma 2011 Betty Thompson and others.
Live and silent auctions will offer dozens of items including a diamond and emerald ring, a Stella Thomas gown, signed sports memorabilia and original art from local and national artists.
The philanthropic event is sponsored by the OSU Chapter of the American Association of University Women (AAUW) to assist two beneficiaries: The Women's Foundation of Oklahoma, which helps single moms continue their college education; and Folds of Honor, an Owasso-based nonprofit that distributes scholarships to families of fallen soldiers.
“I have a soft spot in my heart for people in the military, the sacrifices they make,” said Jeretta Nord, AAUW adviser and a professor of management science and information systems at OSU. “Many are working on undergraduate degrees as well as defending our country.”
Last year's event raised enough money to provide new computers to the 25 female OSU military students who were enrolled and taking distance learning classes while on tours of duty and to donate $8,000 to the Women's Foundation of Oklahoma, Nord said.
Aragon said something she hopes to accomplish by participating in the fashion event is to show that being a woman in the military doesn't mean you can't enjoy fashion and beauty.
“A lot of people think if you're going in the military, you have to be macho and all that. It's just not true. In the military today, you can have any career you want and still be a lady,” Aragon said.
For women, today's military is a great leveling field in terms of professions, Aragon said.
“You're rated on your ability, your talents, the time you've been in. It's one of the few places where women earn the same as men when they have the same job, the same requirements. It's really a great opportunity,” she said.
How to help
To buy tickets for “A Journey Around the World For Military & Women,” sponsor a table or donate items for the auction, email Nord at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (405) 747-0320.