Following a keynote address by Sister Virginia Rodee ‘57, ‘74, which focused on female leaders including university co-founder Mother Rosalie Hill, the USD Women’s Center-hosted event presented Women of Impact awards to student Hannah Evans, staff member Hilda Garcia, administrator Dee Aker and faculty member Jean Ramirez.
“It’s very humbling being recognized,” Evans ’10 (pictured, left, with Women’s Center director Erin Lovette-Colyer) said. “Women are agents of change and to be surrounded by so many other women here, it’s a beautiful thing to be in their presence.”
Evans, a double major in Sociology and Spanish, a Peace and Justice Studies minor and a fall IPJ intern, is also dedicated to community service projects through the Center for Awareness, Service and Action. She is a leader in Students for Fair Trade and Sustainability and was a student co-director of USD’s recent Social Issues Conference. She’s a campus associate for the international organization Catholic Relief Services and is site coordinator for CASA’s migrant outreach program.
“This is something very big for me; I did not expect it,” said a beaming Garcia, through Spanish translation from USD alumna Claudia Llamas ’08, who nominated her. Garcia (pictured, right, with Llamas), a custodian at USD for 11 years, was nominated for her dedication, positive attitude and willingness to help students. “It is a blessing to know such a hard-working, positive woman with tremendous energy every day,” Llamas said of Garcia.
Dee Aker, deputy director for the Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace & Justice, was recognized for her commitment to “core USD values of community, ethical conduct and compassionate service.” Aker appreciated winning the award, but deflected the credit. Aker’s work focuses locally and internationally, specifically in Nepal, on gender empowerment. She developed the IPJ’s annual Women PeaceMakers Program, which takes place in the fall.
Said Aker’s nominator: “I cannot think of any single person I have met here who has done more to promote the development of this community with regards to peace building and justice.”
Ramirez has been a professor in USD’s School of Law since 1990. She teaches criminal law, criminal clinic, evidence and trial advocacy and her research interest is child witness law and policy. Ramirez’s nominator, among other things, praised the professor’s involvement with PrideLaw, “which is so important because it allows LGBT students to know they’re not alone at the school.”
Friday’s event also featured a video celebration of “60 years of Women at USD,” recognition for all nominees and special Women’s Center staff recognition for center director Erin Lovette-Colyer.
— Ryan T. Blystone