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Commission on Status of Women issues awards

July 28, 2008

A graduate student, a counselor, a poet and a professor. The director of a federal grant program, and a student group that helps safeguard women in Mexico from violence.

All are winners of 2008 Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) Outstanding Achievement and Contribution Awards.

ASU’s CSW was founded in 1991 following a report issued by the Arizona Board of Regents, “Reaching the Vision: Women in Arizona’s Universities in the Year 2000,” to monitor the advancement of ABOR’s recommendations.

Each year, CSW presents awards to individuals or groups “whose efforts most exemplify and further the mission of the CSW.”
That mission is “to identify and advocate for needed change in the university environment to enhance opportunities for women and other under-represented groups.”

This year’s award winners are:

• Sydella Blatch, graduate student, School of Life Sciences.

• Cynthia Hogue, professor, Department of English.

• Sharon Smith, director, TRiO Services at the West campus.

• Jennifer Fewell, associate professor, School of Life Sciences.

• Louise Welter, counselor, Student Counseling Services, Polytechnic campus.

• Las Otras Hermanas, part of Women Beyond Borders, a student-based organization.

Blatch was honored for helping minority and female students find the resources to help them succeed at ASU. She founded SHADES, a peer-mentoring program run through the Graduate College designed to foster a support network for minority and female students.

Hogue was cited for being “a strong and compassionate advocate for women scholars and writers.”

Her nominator wrote: “Throughout her scholarly career, Cynthia has devoted much of her efforts to raising the awareness of highly inventive, but often unacknowledged, writers such as May Swenson, Jorie Graham and Adrienne Rich.”

Smith, director of the federal grant program TRiO Services, advocates daily for students in under-represented minority, financial and disabled groups.

“This past year, however, Sharon went above her normal job duties and advocated for women in crisis situations,” her nominator said. “For women who have never had the opportunity to believe in themselves, or have gone through emotional difficulties, Sharon has provided tools for independence, advocacy of administration for funding, and awareness.”

Fewell was honored for her role as a mentor. Her nominator wrote: “In addition to being an outstanding scholar in her field, Prof. Fewell has devoted countless hours to mentoring women in the sciences at all different levels, ranging from undergraduate students to colleagues. Under her direction alone, more than have of the students who have gone through the Minority Access to Research Careers Program are currently in graduate or medical schools.”

Welter was honored for being “a tireless advocate for social justice and equity issues.” Welter’s nominator cited her work on SafeZone, the Campus Environment Team and CSW.

Welter brought SafeZone training to the Polytechnic campus. She conducts the trainings and coordinates nearly all aspects of the program.

She also was instrumental in developing a series of workshops for the Campus Environment Team “that helped develop a safe and welcoming environment for all faculty, staff, students and visitors,” the nominator wrote.

Las Otras Hermanas (The Other Sisters) is part of Women Beyond Borders, a student-organized women’s human rights group that works with women’s organizations worldwide to end violence against women and promote women’s equity in all sectors.

Las Otras Hermanas works with organizations in Juarez, Mexico, to improve women’s economic conditions while safeguarding their overall well being. According to the nominator, “The work undertaken by Las Otras Hermanas embodies the message that advocacy for women should never be limited to our immediate environment, and the boundaries of the ASU campus, but rather that it should extend beyond our borders.”

Hogue says of her award: “As a poet, a humanist, a feminist teacher, I was most moved and impressed to hear what so many other women have been achieving on campus and in the community, how hard others have been working to contribute to women’s advancement. I was honored to be among this year’s recipients of a CSW award.”

Adds Welter: “I believe that the Commission on the Status of Women’s awards play an important role at ASU in acknowledging work toward gender equity, as well as raising awareness of the continued need for change to enhance the opportunities for women.

“I am very honored to have been selected as one of this year’s CSW Outstanding Achievement and Contribution Award winners. Since coming to ASU at the Polytechnic campus in 2004, I have worked tirelessly to create and sustain programs and events intended to support and enhance an equitable, just and safe environment for all.

“It has been a great privilege to be involved in creating the Women’s History Month Committee at the Polytechnic campus and bringing important events such as the ‘Vagina Monologues’ and ‘Take Back the Night’ to the Polytechnic campus. Clearly, I didn’t do any of this alone; it has been a great privilege to be involved with amazing groups of folks dedicated to making the world a better place for everyone in the creating, organizing and implementing of these programs.”

Adds Karen Engler, academic associate for the CSW: “This year’s program boasts an impressive group of award recipients who represent contributions at all levels of the university, from outstanding faculty to caring staff, to talented graduate and undergraduate students. They exemplify the fact that all contributions are significant – and that everyone can make a difference.”