Inspirational Woman in Your Life? Let Everyone Know!

In 2009, Washington State University Vancouver launched a new event: Women of Distinction.  The event started as one of the ways the Office of Student Involvement celebrated Women’s History Month, and six years later, it has grown with each passing year. Nikki Hinshaw, the OSI’s student activities advisor and the person heading up the event, has put out the call for more nominees. Her goal, she said, was to surpass last year’s number of thirty.

“The unique thing about it,” Hinshaw said, “is that anyone can nominate anyone.”  The nominations are divided up into three categories: high school students, WSU Vancouver students and other members of the community. Just as the nominees need not attend WSU Vancouver, people doing the nominating from outside the campus are likewise welcome.  Hinshaw said this was because the event was not just about the school, but was a reflection of WSU Vancouver as a part of the greater community.

When asked to share a few recent stories, Hinshaw was happy to provide.  Deanna Green was one such person, nominated for her work with the I Have a Dream Foundation of Southwestern Washington, an education advocacy group.  Green’s work in helping children through both educational and personal struggles won her the 2013 non-student award. Another nominee from the same year was Constance Brown, a local dentist who volunteers her time and skills providing free dental care to children, as well as being a mentoring figure to people seeking a career in dentistry. Stephanie Holt was named the WSU Vancouver Woman of Distinction in the same year for her advocacy work with children in crisis. When asked exactly what sort of qualities that they sought in a Woman of Distinction, Hinshaw responded, “what we are really looking at is making a difference, in one life or many lives.”

While only one nominee from each group will leave as a 2014 Woman of Distinction, Hinshaw said “We want to honor our nominees, as well as our award recipients. We do select one winner from each category, but it’s really a celebration of all women.”  The full program for the reception is still in development, but OSI has approached Congresswoman Jamie Herrera Beutler, House representative for Southwestern Washington, to make a video address for the reception. The final decision whether to have a single keynote speaker as they did in previous years or host a panel of speakers for a discussion is still being discussed and plans are not yet finalized. The nominees will be honored as a group at a reception taking place at 6 p.m. on Thursday, March 27. Both the award ceremony and subsequent reception will be held at the Firstenburg Student Center. The event is free and open to the public, but RSVPs are requested.

Nominations for the 2014 Woman of Distinction are open until Feb. 21, 2014. A committee representing both WSU Vancouver and the community as a whole will then select the winner from that pool. To nominate a woman who has made a positive impact, or for more information, visit the Women of Distinction page at studentaffairs.vancouver.wsu.edu/student-involvement/women-distinction.  

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