Women on campus take WOW awards

(Photo by Kaitlyn Johnson) Adrienne Andrews stands with Tara Paris, a winner of the WOW awards Thursday afternoon.
(Photo by Kaitlyn Johnson) Adrienne Andrews stands with Tara Paris, a winner of the WOW awards Thursday afternoon.

Award winners, nominators and guests filled the Shepherd Union Ballrooms on Thursday for the fourth annual Women of Weber, or WOW, awards.

Carol E. Merrill, WSU Women’s Center director, started the WOW awards after she realized numerous hardworking women at Weber State University deserved recognition for their efforts.

“There are a tremendous amount of women who were inspiring and outstanding examples to other women and maybe didn’t know that they were,” Merrill said. “In the process of looking at women and thinking, ‘Wow, this woman is achieving great things’ and ‘Wow, this women is really doing a lot,’ I realized that we needed to set up a WOW award.”

The staff of the Women’s Center worked together to decide the different categories. Merrill said she it is overwhelming to see how much the award ceremony has grown over the years.

The 2014 winners for the Woman of Weber category were foreign language professor Alicia Giralt; Tara Peris, assistant director for Student Involvement & Leadership; and Aulola Moli, diversity and unity vice president. 

Adrienne Andrews, assistant to the president for diversity, nominated Peris. Andrews said Peris was an incredible advocate of service both on campus and in the community, hosting service activities for student leaders.

“It’s an honor and humbling, or a reminder of the power of humility,” Peris said. “I was surprised and shocked, because I didn’t even know about it. It raised awareness of moving forward, and now I know to acknowledge the other women I am surrounded with, because I am in an office of men right now.”

The winners of the Woman of Wonder award were geography professor Julie Rich, business manager Rebecca Madison, and student senate secretary Jaime Heiner.

The Woman of Wisdom winners were psychology professor Lauren Fowler; Jessica Oyler, Student Affairs assessment coordinator; and India Nielsen, senator for the College of Arts & Humanities.

Fowler has been involved in the WSU Council of Undergraduate Research for more than 10 years, and she co-created the neuroscience minor. Trevor Hicks-Collins, an assistant in the psychology department, nominated her. He said he succeeded at the level he did because she gave up her time and energy to help him and many others reach heights they never knew they were capable of.

(Photo by Kaitlyn Johnson)
(Photo by Kaitlyn Johnson) Marilee Rohan embraces Carol Merrill as she receives the Women of Wellness award Thursday afternoon.

“When I was doing all my senior projects, she made sure that whenever there was any type of opportunity where I could further my eduction, further my research or whatever else I was doing, that I knew about it and could engage myself further,” Hicks-Collins said. “Because she knew what was going on in my life as a student, she was able to match me up with all the nice things that would assist me in my success.”

The Woman of the World winners were foreign language assistant professor Electra Fielding and international senator Anka Ivanova.

The Woman of Wellness winners were Student Health Center mid-level provider Marilee Rohan and student Lauralee Kohl.

Kohl’s nominator said Kohl has been a huge influence, encouraging friends and family to make healthy choices and by branching out to help others lose weight and live healthy lives.

The Woman of Wit winners were communication professor Ann Bialowas; Teri “Woodie” Wood-Slaughter, conference services and outside area scheduling liaison; and residence halls senator Kami May.

The Woman of Warmth winners were associate dance professor Amanda Sowerby; Mara Sikkink, coordinator of academic advisement for business and economics; and Natalie Laramie, single mothers mentor for the Women’s Center.

WSU women’s advocate Dorothy Hill nominated Laramie because of her service to the Women’s Center throughout the year.

“She is very compassionate and warm with single moms,” Hill said. “She facilitated the single mom support group . . . she implemented a variety of important topics to create an environment of warmth and support.”

The Warrior of Women winners were administrative specialist Faye Medd and student Diana Hurford. The Warrior of Women award is not given out every year; Merrill said it is a special occasion to honor women dedicated to their military careers.

The Woman of Worth winners were Claire Hughes, coordinator for the Writing Center and Developmental English Tutoring Center; human resources major Abby Campbell; and business major Jessica Keomalu.

Guests of the women's center WOW awards gather in the Shepherd Union building ballrooms for the awards ceremony Thursday afternoon.
Guests of the women’s center WOW awards gather in the Shepherd Union building ballrooms for the awards ceremony Thursday afternoon.

The Outstanding Advocate for Women winner was Vickie Van Der Have, CEO of Weber State Credit Union. Merrill nominated Van Der Have for her community involvement and dedication to volunteer service.

Merrill also praised her staff for working tirelessly to make the Women’s Center a comfortable and engaging place for women on campus.

“The best thing about this event is the caliber of women that have come up here,” Merrill said. “Every year we identify new women on campus, and every year I am continually impressed by what they give and what they do, and this is a great way to have them represented.”