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Awards Honor Women’s Activism, Scholarship

By Anusha Ravi Posted: 02/27/2012
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Distinguished faculty and alumni from various Emory divisions were recognized at the first-ever Women and Gender Awards Night on Thursday. The event honored women who have shown dedication to women’s issues through writing, scholarship and activism both within and outside the Emory community.

The Center for Women, the President’s Commission on the Status of Women (PCSW) and the Emory Alumni Association sponsored the event.

Three award ceremonies — the Center for Women’s Unsung Heroine Awards and the PCSW’s Student Writing Awards and Awards for Relational Mentoring — took place in the Miller-Ward Alumni House, marking the first time that the awards were presented at the same event. 

The two award ceremonies had coexisted separately for the past 15 years, but the sponsoring organizations combined the two ceremonies in an effort to create a larger celebration of the successes of women at Emory, according to Natasha Smith, assistant director for programs at the Center for Women.

The Unsung Heroines Awards are annually presented to 10 women within the Emory community who have shown extensive commitment and outstanding scholarship within their various fields, Dona Yarbrough, director of the Center for Women, said in an introductory address at the event.

Colleagues, mentors and friends nominate women who they feel are underappreciated but have demonstrated outstanding dedication to their various fields. The Center for Women advisory council, which evaluates the nominations, chooses the Unsung Heroine Award recipients, who demonstrate “extraordinary dedication to women’s issues,” Smith said.

Mary Cahill (’92N), Pam Pomar (’04N), Ana Tesh (’99N), Susan Lomax (’99N), Administrative Professor at the School of Law Jan Pratt, Mariangela Jordan (’12C), Career Masters of Public Health student Doris Mukangu, Manager of Faculty Development and Institutional Support at the Candler School of Theology Brenda Roberts, Nursing School Assistant Professor Ursula Kelly and Associate Professor of General Obstetrics and Gynecology Lisa Flowers all received Unsung Heroine Awards.

“It’s definitely a humbling experience to get this award,” said Mukangu, who assisted Burundi refugees with translation services, health promotion and health education through the DeKalb County Board of Health. “The only way I can say I got here is by absolutely loving what I do and being really passionate.”

The PCSW-sponsored Award for Relational Mentoring and the Student Writing Awards award two mentor-mentee pairs and a student who has addressed issues of importance to women in an essay submitted to the PCSW, respectively. The mentor-mentee pairs can include a student, faculty or staff member and a more senior student, faculty or staff member.

The Award for Relational Mentoring was given to Jeanne Hendrickson, assistant professor of pediatrics at the School of Medicine; Cassandra Josephson, assistant professor of pediatrics at the School of Medicine; Sonia Parra Zuna, finance manager at the School of Medicine; and Louis Burton, associate clinical administrator at the School of Medicine.

To be eligible for the award, at least one member of the pair must be female, according to the PCSW website.

The nomination for the award can come from a member of the pair, the pair as a whole or an outside third party. Submissions must include a description of how the mentor-mentee relationship “contributed to both members’ leadership development and personal growth,” according to the website.

Jeneanne Orlowski (‘3L) received this year’s writing award and $200 for her essay titled “Beyond Gratification: The Benefits of Pornography and the Demedicalization of Female Sexuality.”

For the Student Writing Award contest, a student must submit an essay to the PCSW that discusses subjects of importance to women.

According to the website, the contest is open to students at the undergraduate, graduate and professional school levels who submit exemplary written samples of their work addressing prominent topics in women’s studies.

Orlowski said she came across this particular topic for her paper as an undergraduate student at University of Michigan, where she became interested in the history of “pigeonholing women to use them as scapegoats for social wrongs.”

“I wanted to address how our labeling and stigmatizing of women can really affect their actions, mindsets and health care,” she said.
Both organizations that co-hosted the event hope to continue hosting the awards ceremonies together in the future, Smith said.

— Contact Anusha Ravi.

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