FORT SILL, Okla. -- For women to empower themselves they must first take personal responsibility for their lives and commit themselves to self-development. Women who have not found their passion or purpose in life need to sit down and reflect to develop their dreams. They need to set goals, get fired-up and pursue those goals, like the women of the U.S. Olympic team who won gold.

"You must really, really believe what you are going for. Not just because those are words, but you have to internalize and truly believe that you can accomplish your dream."

That was the message of Lawton native Debra Jordan, who was the guest speaker at the Fort Sill Women's Equality Day observance Aug. 16 at the Patriot Club. Jordan, a MacArthur High School and Cameron University graduate, is the Department of Defense and Department of the Army Liaison, and the Senior Continuous Process Improvement specialist for Army Business Transformation at Installation Management Command headquarters at Fort Sam Houston, Texas.

The Fires Center of Excellence and Fort Sill Equal Employment Opportunity Office, and Installation Equal Opportunity Office co-sponsored the annual 90-minute commemorative luncheon. This year's theme is "Celebrating Women's Right to Vote."

In his invocation, Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Steven Maglio, deputy installation chaplain, said: "Almighty God ... we give you thanks for every woman past and present as well as all who have contributed to make our country the greatest nation in the world."

Sgt. 1st Class Calixto Montes, Inspector General office, performed the "Star-Spangled Banner" on a saxophone, and entertainment was performed by children from the Southstar Dance Academy.

Jordan spoke about the women and men in her life who empowered her through education and mentorship, many of whom are household names in the Lawton-Fort Sill community.

Jordan said her mother, Bobbie Duckett, told her not to worry about what other people may say or think about her. It was also forbidden to say "I can't," at home. There was a tin can that sat on the kitchen counter that her mother had labeled "I Can."

"Every time one of us would slip and say, 'I can't do this or do that,' we'd have to write three times on a piece of paper, 'Yes, I can' and place it into the 'I Can,' jar," Jordan said.

Jordan recalled how her junior high school counselor and later assistant principal, Ann Coody, now an Oklahoma State representive, always ended their talks with: "If you ever need me to do anything, just let me know."

"I appreciated that because that is very empowering," Jordan said.

As a freshman at Cameron, Jordan said she met Eloise Love, a non-traditional student who provided her with "the first real example of what it meant to sacrifice and work hard to obtain a bachelor's degree.

"She was a great example for us young students at Cameron," Jordan said.

While working at the university, Jordan met retired Maj. Gen. Charles Brown, the first native Oklahoman commanding general at Fort Sill. Brown, an administrator at Cameron, convinced her to get a job at Fort Sill.

"The IQ of Fort Sill would go up if young ladies like you would go to work out there," Brown would tell her whenever he ran into her at the snack bar, Jordan said.

At the fort, Jordan met Dorothy Gray, whom she called the "First Lady of Army Comptrollership and Resource Management."

Gray was the first woman budget officer at Fort Sill, and one of first women to attend an Army finance school, Jordan said.

"Because of her boldness and willingness to be first, we now have several auditors, several accountants, and several women who have been empowered to work in those positions," Jordan said.

Jordan worked with Nita Russell, former resource management program director.

"She first taught me how to think strategically about installation services and programs for Soldiers and families long before there was a family covenant," Jordan said. "(Russell) was very passionate about accepting nothing less than excellence for programs and services."

Jordan also spoke about community leader Albert Johnson, former Lawton Public Schools deputy superintendent.

"Mr. Johnson secured many, many scholarships behind the scenes and educational opportunities for young ladies in the Lawton community," Jordan said. He was adamant about young women going to college.

Johnson instilled a strong work ethic in her and his mantra was: "If at first a task is begun, never quit until it's done. Be it little, be it small do it right or not at all," Jordan said.