VANCOUVER, Wash. – Washington State University Vancouver closed out Women’s History Month, observed each year in March, by celebrating women who inspire, mentor and empower others. The fifth annual Women of Distinction event, held March 28, recognized McKenna Smith, a senior at Camas High School, as the high school student Woman of Distinction; Stephanie Holt, a human development major, as the WSU Vancouver student Woman of Distinction; and Deanna Green, program manager for the “I Have a Dream” Foundation of Southwest Washington, as the non-student Woman of Distinction.
High School Woman of Distinction
McKenna Smith (pictured right, top) is a senior at Camas High School. She has been on the yearbook staff since her sophomore year and is editor-in-chief this year. McKenna has been a teen volunteer and mentor at the Humane Society for Southwest Washington for two years and regularly babysits for four families. She plans to study nursing at WSU and become a neonatal intensive care unit nurse.
WSU Vancouver student Woman of Distinction
Stephanie Holt (pictured right, center) has dedicated her life to advocating for and protecting children. She is finishing a degree in human development at WSU Vancouver and plans to get a master’s degree in social work. She runs an organization that has sent more than 200 bears to children in crisis and currently volunteers her time at Court Appointed Special Advocate for Children.
Non-student Woman of Distinction
Deanna Green (pictured right, bottom) has committed her life to achieving social change by inspiring, mentoring and empowering youth to reach their full potential. This commitment is exemplified by her work as a program manager of the “I Have a Dream” Foundation of Southwest Washington. For 15 years she has worked with students from elementary school up and has helped them navigate both educational and personal difficulties. In this role she has helped hundreds of youth be the first in their family to graduate from high school and pursue higher education.
All of the Women of Distinction nominees where recognized at the celebration. Other women nominated in the high school category included: Zoe Hall. The WSU Vancouver student category included: Ashley Ann Day, Leslie Dolence, Christina Jensen, Cyndie Meyer, Catherine "Cassie" Peckels, Jayme Shoun and Janae Teal. The non-student category included: Bobbi Bellomy, Constance “Connie” Brown, Galina Burley, Jody Campbell, Kari Duffy, Nancy Funk, Heather Grotte, Kris Henriksen, Abolade “Bola” Majekobaje, Jacky L. McCarthy, Sherri McMillan, Sue Peabody, Diana Perez, Charlene Shea, Rekah Strong, Susan M.G. Tissot, Alishia Topper and Julie Williams.
Lara Hoffmans, managing editor of MarketMinder.com and vice president of content at Fisher Investments, delivered the keynote. She encouraged women to do something that scares them—not just for a moment or for a day—but for months, years or the rest of their lives. She also permitted making mistakes.
“If you don’t make mistakes, you’re probably not doing enough,” said Hoffmans. “If you never fall down, you’ll never learn how to get back up.”
Women of Distinction is held annually in March with the purpose of recognizing women in Southwest Washington who have made a difference in the lives of others. Held in conjunction with Women’s History Month, the event honors women who have inspired, mentored and empowered others. Nominations are accepted for women in three categories: high school students, WSU Vancouver students and community members. Nominations typically open in February. Distinguished Woman of the Year award recipients are determined by a committee comprised of WSU Vancouver staff, faculty, students and community members.
Women of Distinction is sponsored by The Office of Student Involvement at WSU Vancouver and Unitus Community Credit Union.
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Nikki Hinshaw, Office of Student Involvement, 360-546-9465, firstname.lastname@example.org
Brenda Alling, Office of Marketing and Communications, 360-546-9601, email@example.com