Exceptional women celebrated at GVSU

By Kate Branum | 3/30/16 11:10pm

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GVL / Kasey Garvelink - Guests of the Women’s Commission Awards got to hear a student read her own poetry during the event on Mar. 29, 2016 in Allendale.

by Kasey Garvelink / Grand Valley Lanthorn

Each year, Grand Valley State University recognizes those who have made an impact on the lives of women are recognized and celebrated through an award ceremony called "Celebrating Women."

On March 29, the event was hosted by the Women’s Commission in conjunction with the Women’s Center, women, gender and sexuality department and Positive Black Women. The Women’s Commission advocates for all women by acting on their issues and promoting equity and social justice.

“This has been a year of tremendous growth and development for the commission,” said Kristen Evans, chair of the Women’s Commission. “We went from a year ago, a core membership of about five dedicated souls, to now, a group of 20 faculty and staff from across campus who have really committed their time and energy into this advocacy work.”

Each organization presented awards and scholarships to individuals who have promoted positive change across campus and within their communities.

The Women’s Commission offered several awards, including: the Unsung Hero Award, the Maxine Swanson Award, the Women’s Community Impact Award and the Emerging Professional Award, a new award for 2016.

Here are the highlights for the 2016 ceremony:

Doris Penn, project coordinator in the Registrar’s Office at GVSU, was awarded the Unsung Hero Award. Penn is an active member of the Latin faculty and staff association and the Laker Familia orientation committee. She mentors for the GVSU Niara program.

The Unsung Hero Award was developed from a need to recognize the contributions of those who conquer the limits to improve the lives of oppressed and marginalized faculty, staff and students of the GVSU community.

Stephanie Schaertel, associate professor in the chemistry department at GVSU, was awarded the Maxine Swanson Award. This recognition is for a person who has contributed to an environment that supports the rights of all women on campus.

Cara Ocobock, assistant professor of biomedical sciences, received the Women’s Community Impact award recognizing an individual who promotes the well-being of women in their community.

Allison Montaie, assistant director of the Women’s Center, was awarded the Emerging Professional Award, which is awarded to a person who supports women's rights and seeks to create opportunities for interaction among women.

Positive Black Women honored four scholars at the ceremony, which included: Odell McFarland IV, an international business and marketing major, DeAndreah Hollowell, a women, gender and sexuality major, Shaniyah Stevenson, a social work major and Emnet Woldemicael, a women, gender and sexuality studies major.

“Since we began this journey of giving out scholarships, we have given out $42,300 in scholarship money and assisted 90 students,” said Takeelia Garrett, assistant director of Housing and Resident Life. “All of these recipients have unique stories to share and have had to overcome some incredible obstacles to be at Grand Valley.”

On March 31, the Women’s Commission will hold the annual "Equalitea" event at 3 p.m. located at the Grand River Room in the Kirkhof Center. The event involves the tradition of tea paired with discussions of literature, politics and gender reform.

There will be entertainment, food and an opportunity to mingle with new people while honoring the past.

For more information, visit www.gvsu.edu/women_cen.

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