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2018 Women of Distinction Awards: Honoring women advancing women, gender equity

Apr 16, 2018

For the 17th year, University of the Pacific honored women-identified Pacific students, faculty, staff and Stockton community members who have made significant contributions to the advancement of women and gender equity and demonstrated outstanding leadership.

Host Shannon Schipper, director of the Women's Resource Center at Pacific, kicked off the March 30 luncheon by reflecting on progress made and opportunities remaining for achieving gender equity. Schipper recognized the importance of the #MeToo social media movement against sexual misconduct, but added that, "Our problems won't be solved with a hashtag (alone)."

Keynote speaker Mahrukh "Maya" Hasan '07 amplified Schipper's message as she guided attendees through challenges that girls and women still face throughout the world - women comprise two-thirds of minimum-wage workers, 130 million girls are not in school, and at age 6 girls begin to believe they are less talented than boys. Hasan is principal and founder of Azura Labs, an international development consulting firm.

"Culture doesn't make people. People make culture," she said.

Through the lens of self-empowerment and social change, Hasan highlighted the strides society has made toward achieving gender equity. Together, attendees applauded when hearing that the global gender education gap has nearly closed, Girl Scouts announced 23 new STEM badges, and a record number of women are running for political office. Hasan concluded by urging men to be part of the solution and by encouraging women to ask for what they want; amplify voices and be an ally; and act by being a champion for change.

As if answering Hasan's call, the 2018 Women of Distinction Award honorees are exemplary models of moving beyond words to action:

Kelly Masterson (left) and Betsy Keithcart
Kelly Masterson (left) and Betsy Keithcart (right)

Undergraduate Woman of Distinction Kelly Masterson '18, Media X

Presenter Dr. Betsy Keithcart: Kelly made a film about the unique peer pressures that girls face, volunteers in low-income schools and helps people with mental disorders.

"Almost every person I have met at Pacific is working in the most creative and the [hardest] ways to make a difference," Masterson said.



Qiana Amiad Moore (right) and Essie Gilchrist
Qiana Amiad Moore (right) and Essie Gilchrist (left)

Graduate Woman of Distinction Qiana Amiad Moore '18, Communication

Presenter Essie Gilchrist:  Qiana made time to attend numerous community events, volunteered at a children's hospital and mentored young people.

"As a woman of color, I often find myself where I am the only one," Moore said. "But I have come to realize that it only takes one."



Aseel Baluom (right) and Annamarie Richardson
Aseel Baluom (right) and Annamarie Richardson (left)

Sorority Woman of Distinction Aseel Baluom '19, Speech-language Pathology and Audiology, minor in Business Management

Annamarie Richardson: She has seen people tell Aseel that she couldn't do something and saw Aseel respond with, 'Yes, I can' and 'Yes, I will.'"

"My sorority has taught me what it means to be an individual and still work well with others," Baluom said.



Erin Rausch (right) and Colin McInnis
Erin Rausch (right) and Colin McInnis (left)

Staff Woman of Distinction Erin Rausch, director of the Center for Community Involvement

Presenter Colin McInnis: Erin creates an environment where every student can grow in their confidence and abilities.

"Thank you for supporting me as I learn to be a social justice advocate," Rausch said. "Stockton and Pacific together have nurtured me and allowed me to make the impact that I've made up until this point."



Cathy Peterson (right) and Preeti Oza
Cathy Peterson (right) and Preeti Oza  (left)

Faculty Woman of Distinction Dr. Cathy Peterson, professor and chair of Physical Therapy in the Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences

Presenter Dr. Preeti Oza: Cathy fosters an inclusive environment focusing on each individual's talents and empowers her team to evolve.

"Thank you to colleagues, students and university administration for creating this environment," Peterson said. "I'm inspired."



Janie B Reddish (right) and Shirley Washington
Janie B Reddish (right) and Shirley Washington (left)

Community Woman of DistinctionJanie B. Reddish, retired school administrator and educator

Presenter Shirley Washington: Janie is generous, genuine, gracious, grateful, good hearted, good natured and good looking.

"I just feel that once you have made a determination to make a difference, you don't stop," Reddish said.




To learn more about women's leadership at Pacific, visit the Women's Resource Center website.

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