Women of Impact

Each year, the Women's Commons celebrates the contributions of women across campus. Members of the campus community attend the annual Women of Impact Luncheon honoring students, faculty, staff and administrators that have positively impacted USD.

Who is a Woman of Impact?

A Woman of Impact is one who lives principles of social justice.  Through her work, activities, and relationships she supports others in finding voice, developing skills for transformation and understanding who they are called to be. Her community is not merely a place in which she exists; it is a place she actively improves. Check out the list of Past Recipients!

Congratulations to all of the 2019 recipients of the Woman of Impact Award!

Jelitsa Fonseca
Staff, Student Affairs and Strategic Initiatives & Programs 
She uses her creativity and talent to improve projects not only for us, but for the division of Student Affairs. Jelitsa also serves as an incredible support to the USD Food Pantry and Torero Closet. She helped establish our partnership with the San Diego Food Bank, attended their training, completes our monthly reports and makes visits to the pantry when I am unable to do so. In addition, she created the enrollment form and works with the Campus Card Office, to ensure student records are maintained confidentially. Furthermore, she helps me to unload groceries, stock shelves, and has trained our student assistants to help as well. Jelitsa recognizes that students cannot perform at their best if their basic needs are not met. She treats all students who register for access to the pantry with dignity and respect.
Dr. Shannon Franklin
Administrator, Counseling Center 
Dr. Franklin lives the principles of social justice in every interaction. She continuously elevates any space she is with her presence, laughter, and authenticity. She meets students where they are at and works to both challenge and support in order to support their wellness needs and beyond. Thank you, Shannon for being you.Shannon is an exemplary therapist and leader that has really made an impact on campus. So many students know her and seek her out as she embodies empowerment for all students. I see her standing in solidarity with her students and helping them find their courage to advocate for themselves as well.
Leslie Martinez
Undergraduate, Class of 2021
Leslie Martinez has worked tirelessly at USD to create a welcoming, and empowering environment for womxn of color. Understanding that womxn of color face internal and external challenges with navigating a PWI, such as USD, she has worked with Movimiento Estudiantil Chicanx de Aztlán (MEChA) as a programmer to plan and put forth events such as Fiesta Night, Virgen de Guadalupe Mass, and Chicanx/ Latinx Grad (just to name a few), all requiring a high level of dedication, and creativity. It is crucial for these events to take place because it fosters a sense of home away from home for Latinx/Chicanx people at USD. Leslie has also worked as a programmer in the Womxn's Common where she has taken on leadership roles in facilitating events such as Nothing Bundt Feminism and USD Womxn of Color Summit. Leslie has demonstrated through previously listed commitments that she lives by empowering others through collaborations, standing in solidarity, and advocating for those not in positions of power.
Meredith Mendez
Graduate, Class of 2020
Meredith Mendez is a woman of impact who lives each of the principles of social justice. As a graduate student in the higher education leadership program, she is actively honing her knowledge and values based approach to impacting the community of USD. As her supervisor of the graduate assistantship in the Military and Veterans Program, it is a sincerely rewarding opportunity to work with Meredith’s caliber of awareness and practice of social justice.
Dr. Necla Tschirgi
Professor, Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies 
Necla Tschirgi is a professional Peacebuilder and Changemaker. Since she joined the Kroc School 9 years ago, Necla immediately connected with all Schools at the university. In her first year, she agreed to be a judge for the first Social Innovation Challenge (Spring 2011). She also joined university committees such as IRB, contributing for several years. Last year the entire Academic Programs team at the School left within the space of two months. Necla led all three graduate programs ensuring students had a top level learning experience. She taught her courses and led the programs, often staying late at night. What's more, she did this with incredible dedication and enthusiasm that is fueled by her belief in student centricity at all times. Needless to say, Necla is a most dedicated professor. She is always willing to innovate in her courses and demonstrates flexibility to teach different courses as needed. Frequently we receive emails from students who have graduated from our programs expressing gratitude for everything Necla has done for them. Necla is bringing the "Building Peace" conference to the USD campus this year Nov 14-16th. This is one of the pre-eminent peace building conferences globally and having it at USD exposes these 300 thought leaders to our University and she has also secured 20 free passes for our students to participate. Her contributions to grow and develop the Kroc school programs have been fundamental to the success of the school.

USD News Center Story - Women of Impact at USD Succeed by "Growing Through It"