Jackie Gingrich Cushman

This week, I am participating in Camp CEO, a Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta program that pairs women with high-school girls, providing them with the chance to hear from those who have helped blaze new trails for women. The Girl Scouts' mission is to imbue girls with courage, confidence and character.

This week's speakers include women who have broken corporate barriers, entrepreneurs and a fertility doctor who has helped usher more than 6,500 babies into the world.

When a girl asked how she had made it with no female role models, the doctor choked up as she related that her grandmother believed in her and had told her she could do anything.

That kind of self-determination was apparent in the headlines about this week's political primaries.

South Carolina State Rep. Nikki Haley and U.S. Rep. J. Gresham Barrett are in the race for the runoff for the South Carolina Republican governor slot. The winner will face State Sen. Vincent Sheheen in the November general election.

Sen. Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark., defeated Bill Halter in the Democratic primary, upsetting predictions. She will face Rep. John Boozman, R-Ark., in the general election.

In Nevada, former Assemblywoman Sharron Angle won the Republican primary against Sue Lowden, former state senator and Republican Party Chairwoman, and real estate developer Danny Tarkanian. She will face Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., in the general election.

California has two successful businesswomen who have won their primaries. Meg Whitman beat out California Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner for the Republican nomination for governor. She will face former Gov. Jerry Brown in the fall. Carly Fiorina, former CEO of Hewlett-Packard, defeated former Rep. Tom Campbell and Assemblyman Chuck DeVore, winning the Republican nomination for Senate. She will face Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., in the general election.

All these women have faced enormous odds and have, so far, come out ahead. They all share self-determination.

It makes me surmise they had mothers, grandmothers, fathers -- someone who believed they could accomplish anything they worked toward.

Last night, as we chatted about the challenges the high-school girls will meet, we realized that they would be different from the challenges we had faced. But, if history is any guide, one thing will be the same: Those who succeed will have what Linda Clay had and passed along -- self-determination.


Jackie Gingrich Cushman

Jackie Gingrich Cushman is a speaker, syndicated columnist, socialpreneur, and author of "The Essential American: 25 Documents and Speeches Every American Should Own," and co-author of “The 5 Principles for a Successful Life: From Our Family to Yours”.