2018 Women's History Month Award Winners
This year's Women's History Month theme, Nevertheless She Persisted, reminded participants of the many contributions women have made to our society. At the recent Women's History Month closing ceremony, a number of awards were distributed. To recognize individuals who have contributed to the welcoming environment for women at the University of Memphis, an outstanding student, staff member, faculty member, and community member received awards. Additionally, two outstanding programs were acknowledged.
Ashton Toone (Senior, major) was named as outstanding student of the year. As last year's recipient Abby Huber explained in her remarks, "Ashton Toone is a
revolutionary woman; every project and organization that she has encountered has been
bettered by her unwavering dedication, wisdom and passion. Ashton has spent her entire
collegiate career seeking out opportunities to further improve our campus. Though
many have tried to quiet Ashton, she has always remained confident in her voice and
her mission. Ashton is a remarkable advocate for people of color, women, the LGBTQ+
community and all the intersectionalities that coincide."
Jennifer Williams (Student Leadership and Involvement), was named the outstanding
staff member. As her multiple nominees shared, Jennifer Williams is "...an inspiring member of
the University of Memphis community. As the Assistant Director for Student Engagement
in the Student Leadership & Involvement Office, much of the attention that Jennifer
receives is for when students are frustrated, or something is going wrong. Despite
this negative attention, and all of the associated challenges, you could not find
a bigger advocate and cheerleader for our students than her. Being the advocate for
change, and for needed improvement, can be an exhausting responsibility, but nevertheless
Jennifer persists. She does so with kindness, humor, and dedication, and we are all
better off for it."
Amanda Savage (History) was named the outstanding faculty member. Amanda was described by her nominees as a mentor and friend to many members of the
UofM community who constantly strives to make the campus a welcoming place for all.
In addition to her duties as an instructor and advisor in the Department of History,
she volunteered her own time and money to establish Clio's Closet. After leading those
efforts for two years, Amanda helped to form the Tiger Pantry. Amanda's dedication
to fighting food insecurity has resulted in hundreds of students who are able to obtain
basic food and toiletry necessities which are instrumental to keeping them healthy,
safe, and successful in school.
Stacey White Bailey was awarded the community member of the year posthumously. Her nominator explained that "her true beauty came from her authenticity and genuine care for other people. Even more so, though, Momma Bailey set the bar for what it meant for her to be an exceptional mom. There was never any uncertainty about whether or not you were welcomed by her; Momma Bailey went out of her way to embrace everyone for every part of their being. If you were a friend of Matty or Daniel, you were regarded as one of her children, too."
This year's Outstanding Student Program of the Year goes to Stonewall Tigers Gender and Sexuality Alliance for their partnership with Queen in Me, Student Event Allocation, Student Activities Council, and Office of Institutional Equity to host Laverne Cox, this year's Women's History Month Keynote Speaker. Laverne's message "Ain't I a Woman" used Sojourner Truth's famous, "Ain't I a Woman" speech as inspiration. Cox's message pointed to the historic ways in which black and female bodies in America are devalued. From there she explored how as a trans woman, her life chances are further impacted. Her story and her journey demonstrated to all in attendance the importance of intersectionality, inclusion and justice.
The recipient of this year's outstanding departmental program is Tigers First, Opportunity Scholars and the Office of Institutional Equity for their collaborative work on Immigrant Journeys: America's Story Panel and March. This program empowered immigrant women to share their perspective and experiences of resilience and triumph. The event featured students, staff, and faculty and highlighted immigrant women's contributions to the University and the wider Memphis community.
Other events at Women's History Month 2018 included the Day of Girl, which engaged local high school leaders in a one-day women's leadership experience at the University of Memphis as well as a partnership with Campus School to involve their students in creating projects that showcased the contribution of women. Hundreds of individuals around the campus participated in educational sessions, workshops, and events that helped us to remember the contributions of women.