Women's History Month: Honoring USD’s Women of Impact

Women's History Month: Honoring USD’s Women of Impact

In honor of Women’s History Month, the USD News Center will highlight the Women of Impact recipients in a month-long series that shares their stories with the campus community.

Twenty-three years and counting, the University of San Diego Women of Impact program has celebrated the work of women across the campus who have impacted the lives of their friends, colleagues, students, and the community. Hosted by the USD Women’s Commons, the Women of Impact program enables the campus to come together in acknowledgement of colleagues’ hard work and dedication to USD’s Changemaker mission.

For Erin Lovette-Colyer, director for gender identity resources with the Women’s Commons, this year’s Feb. 5 virtual ceremony enabled participants to find joy and to celebrate in the midst of an uncertain time.

“2020 was a year for transformation and invited us to throw tradition to the wind and celebrate our 59 nominees in new and creative ways,” says Lovette-Colyer. “As our staff reflected upon a theme for this year's program, the image of a butterfly surfaced quickly, which was followed by a staff member reciting the powerful words of poet Maya Angelou, ‘We delight in the beauty of the butterfly but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.’ Our world and our USD community are calling for profound change. This year's Women of Impact nominees are heeding that call in innumerable ways.”

Of the women nominated from around campus, five were chosen as the recipients of the 2020 Women of Impact award. 

The award winners were Jillian Tullis, PhD, associate professor of communication studies (faculty), Elisa Lurkis, director of development and alumni relations in the Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering (administrator), Gabriella Rangrej, learning communities coordinator (staff), Maddie Orcutt (law student), and Courtney Cureton (undergraduate).

For Lovette-Colyer, a common theme among the recipients’ work was their desire to “seek out and provide a voice” for communities. Also evident was their dedication to others, without pursuit of personal gain or recognition.

— Allyson Meyer ’16 (BA), ’21 (MBA)