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College’s ‘Awesome Women’ Honored During Penn’s Inn Ceremony


Guest speaker Rachel Muir, founder of Girlstart, shares her inspiring story.Twenty-seven outstanding Penn College women students, faculty and staff were honored at Monday night’s inaugural “Celebration of Women” in Penn’s Inn.

Special guest Rachel Muir, who, in 1999 ,founded the nonprofit organization Girlstart, gave a keynote address on the mixture of naivete and gumption that prompted her to help young girls succeed in the fields of math, science and technology.

“I didn’t let myself think that I couldn’t do it. I didn’t let that doubt enter my mind” she said. ” Even if you take one small step a day, you’re still that one step closer to realizing your dream.”

Girlstart works with elementary- and middle-school pupils in the Austin, Texas, area, offering fun and educational programs to dispel long-held myths about girls’ ability to embrace the sciences.

“Growing up, I got the message that girls didn’t do math. I got the message that, somehow, I was born without this math gene,” Muir recalled.”So I missed out on A’s in math class, A’s in science class. I missed out on a lot of opportunities.”

Muir’s program, similar to the “SMART Girls” initiative at Penn College, takes aim at shattering gender stereotypes,using hands-on activities to “lure them into those fields and to show them, ‘Hey, this isn’t so far from my future.’ ”

She applauded all of this year’s “Awesome Women Exemplars” for the obvious effect that each has had, rippling beyond their immediate circle to the broader world outside campus.

“When you impact a girl, you impact the type of person she is, the type of parent she’ll become,” Muir said. “When you impact someone’s life, you impact an entire community. And we’re just grazing the tip of the iceberg of possibility.”

Against a PowerPoint backdrop of historic women ranging from late civil-rights pioneer Rosa Parks and anthropologist Margaret Mead to Maya Angelou and Oprah Winfrey, Penn College’s director of student life said nominations came from leadership positions at every level of the institution.

“These were friendly, patient, strong, compassion and driven women,” Carolyn Strickland said, noting traits that surfaced again and again in comments from nominators.

An alphabetical list of the 2006 honorees, nominated by members of the college family when asked, ‘Who are you in awe of?” follows:

  • Twenty of this year's honorees gather for a group photo in Penn's Inn. Front row, from left%3A Catherine V. McCall, Genelle Gatsos, Jennifer L. Hammond, Jessica D. Quinn, Wendy A. Cunningham and Carolyn Strickland. Back row, from left%3A Sara D. Rust, Julie M. Reppert, Davie Jane Gilmour, Erin A. Karpich, Angela D. Rymer, Kimberly R. Henry, Nancy A. Grausam, Linda A. Sweely, Molly J. Steele-Schrimp, Elaine J. Lambert, Kay E. Dunkleberger, Jennifer J. Bowers, Patty L. Schrader and Sharon Waters.Stefanie A. Beskovoyne, legal assistant/paralegal student from Lake Ariel
  • Jennifer J. Bowers, Penn College Police officer
  • Marilyn E. Caldwell, physician assistant student from Winston-Salem, N.C.
  • Wendy A. Cunningham, technical editor
  • Kay E. Dunkleberger, coordinator of disability services
  • Genelle Gatsos, student support services specialist
  • Davie Jane Gilmour, college president
  • Nancy A. Grausam, assistant professor, early childhood education
  • Jennifer L. Hammond, coordinator of tutoring
  • Kimberly R. Henry, assistant director for student development
  • Erin A. Karpich, accounting student from Springville and Penn College Library employee
  • Elaine J. Lambert, director of college information and community relations
  • Amanda G. LeClair, a dental hygiene-health policy and administration student from Reading
  • Tara L. Martin, dental hygiene student from Bressler
  • Catherine V. McCall, applied human services student from Media
  • Elizabeth L. Meyer, associate professor, human services/social sciences
  • Veronica M. Muzic, provost/vice president for academic affairs
  • Jessica D. Quinn, physical fitness specialist student from Shawville
  • Julie M. Reppert, mass media communication student from Myerstown
  • Sara D. Rust, electrical power generation student from Jamestown
  • Angela D. Rymer, business administration-marketing student from Jersey Shore
  • Patty L. Schrader, coordinator of New Choices/New Options
  • Molly J. Steele-Schrimp, secretary to the vice president for student affairs
  • Carolyn Strickland, director of student life
  • Linda A. Sweely, director of food services
  • Josephine S. Taylor, advertising/media relations assistant
  • Sharon Waters, director of counseling, career and disability services

The event was sponsored by the Student Activities Office in honor of Women’s History Month.

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