Carol Transou graduated with a history degree in 1958. She’d gone to college with 13 other girls from her hometown high school outside of Nashville, Tenn.
“I guess everyone thought we’d get married, have kids,” Transou said of herself and her classmates.
Transou, like many women of her generation, became a teacher after earning her degree. Her teaching career and volunteer work after retiring from teaching was and is so exceptional that she was inducted into the Tennessee Women’s Hall of Fame on Oct. 26.
The honor was presented by the Tennessee Economic Council on Women. Katie Baker, an assistant professor at East Tennessee State University, nominated Transou for the Hall of Fame because, “Carol is on a mission here in East Tennessee to improve the lives of women and girls.”
Transou taught high school history for 25 years, earning the distinction of Tennessee Teacher of the Year in 1987. She retired early in 1992 because she wanted to explore life beyond teaching.
“The teaching part of me was so intense,” she said, citing the extra academic work she did outside of the classroom as part of why she left to do volunteer work.
Since her retirement, Transou has been an active member of organizations including the East Tennessee Foundation and the Sunshine Lady Foundation. In 2011, Transou founded the Women’s Fund of East Tennessee with four East Tennessee Foundation members. The fund is devoted to awarding grants to regional organizations that aim to improve the lives of women and girls. Transou and her fellow founders raised $2 million for the fund in its first two years, Transou did some of her fundraising via Skype while living in Paris.
“I can outdo most anybody in energy,” she says, laughing. Transou said her championing of and advocacy for women was cultivated at Lindenwood.
When she was growing up, she said, “Girls weren’t rewarded for being smart.”
Transou said the expectation at Lindenwood that she and her classmates would be leaders of their communities was inspiring to her.
After her induction to this year’s Hall of Fame Class, Transou said she received many touching messages from former students. One told her that as a 16-year-old girl in Transou’s history class, she was proud to call herself a feminist; another said Transou influenced her to have respect for strong women. Transou said the female professors she observed at Lindenwood taught her that same respect. It is clear from Transou’s accomplishments she took that lesson to heart.