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Miami University holds first Women of Excellence Awards

<p>This year, Miami held its first Women of Excellence Awards and honored exceptional students and faculty alike.</p>

This year, Miami held its first Women of Excellence Awards and honored exceptional students and faculty alike.

Seven women received recognition at Miami University’s Women of Excellence Virtual Celebration on Wednesday, March 31 for their leadership and dedication to the Miami community. The recipients, including three faculty members and four undergraduate students, were nominated for recognition by their classmates and colleagues.

The recipients included sophomores Nav Chima and Harper Sutton and seniors Jannie Kamara and Kyndal Fletcher.

One faculty and two staff members, Regional Director of New Student Programs and Engagement Bethany Carr, associate professor of history and global and intercultural studies Kimberly Hamlin, and Dean of Students Kimberly Moore, were also recognized. 

The celebration, co-hosted by the Center for Student Diversity and Inclusion, the Panhellenic Association and the National Pan-Hellenic Council, hoped to conclude Women’s History Month with a nod towards some of Miami’s female leaders.

Emily Sanford, a junior strategic communications and English literature co-major, assisted in hosting the event and recognizing the recipients.

“Our vision was to recognize the women trailblazers for their contributions to our campus community,” Sanford said. “We’re so excited to have the opportunity to celebrate Women’s History Month with this program.”

The event’s keynote speaker Yvette Simpson, a Miami alumna and chief executive director of Democracy for America, spoke about the importance of recognizing women for their accomplishments.

“I want people to understand that women need to be recognized for their achievements not just during the month of March, but every single day,” Simpson said. “Women need to be recognized for the amazing things they are doing every single day.”

The first recipient, Bethany Carr, echoed Simpson’s sentiments on the everyday accomplishments of women.

“I don’t think any one of us gets up in the morning and thinks, ‘Today’s the day I’m going to do something to get an award,’” Carr said. “But we wake up and say, ‘Today’s the day that I’m going to make a difference.’” 

Chima, a sophomore political science and international studies double major, acknowledged the women who have impacted her personally throughout her life.

“Anybody who has been on this journey with me, and has shaped me and helped me grow into the woman I am today, thank you so much,” Chima said. “I hope I can continue to make you proud.” 

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Fletcher, a public health and premedical studies double major, recited pieces of Simpson’s speech as she accepted her award.

“I really just want to reiterate what Ms. Simpson said, that all women on this call should know that they are enough,” Fletcher said. “And you should continue to be yourself, and to stand your ground and overcome obstacles.”

Hamlin said as a historian, it’s important to note women’s impact on history.

“I believe the stories we tell about our past shape what is possible in the present,” Hamlin said. “I want people to know that women don’t contribute to women’s history, women contribute to history.”

Sutton, a sophomore nutrition major and psychology double major, thanked the women who nominated her for the award.

“I was so surprised to get this award, because I never really think about myself, that’s not something I strive to do,” Sutton said. “I like to help others. That’s my bread and butter.” 

Moore also spoke to the importance of working to help others.

“I’m one of those people who puts my head down and does the work and doesn’t really think about the impact,” Moore said. “So to have the opportunity to recognize that it means something, and that it matters is super significant.”

Kamara, student body president and senior individualized studies and Black world studies double major, was the final recipient of the night. 

Kamara reminded the women in attendance of the power they have to incite change.

“Never forget the power that you hold, and the power you have to drive change and healing in our society,” Kamara said. “I do my research in advocacy because I’ve been taught by the strongest women in my life to never let go of the opportunities I have.”