UI Honors Women at Celebration

Thursday, April 2, 2009

By Rachel Gallegos
Iowa City Press-Citizen

Female undergraduate students, graduate students, faculty and staff members were honored Wednesday during "A Celebration of Excellence and Achievement Among Women."
Keri Hornbuckle joined the University of Iowa College of Engineering faculty in 1998, she was one of only three female professors.

"I wanted to be a scholar my whole life," Hornbuckle said Wednesday as she accepted the Distinguished Achievement Award.

Hornbuckle thanked her mother, who always told her that she could do whatever she wanted in life.

"And I feel like I can," said Hornbuckle, who is serving as the first chairwoman of a College of Engineering department -- civil and environmental engineering.

Sarah Anderson, chairwoman of the Women's Resource and Action Center Advisory Board, said she was blown away by the applications from the two students who received the Margaret P. Benson Memorial Scholarship -- Alexandra Keenan, who will graduate in 2010 with degrees in biomedical engineering, biochemistry and international studies, and Virginia Wangui Gathua, a doctoral student in counselor education.

Keenan's trip to India brought her face-to-face with the lack of priority for women's health issues, specifically cervical cancer. She said she met with a group of Indian women, who ended up being the ones to come up with solutions.

"They are truly the ones who will change Indian society," Keenan said. "They changed my life."

Gathua said her goal is to help another girl like a teacher in Kenya helped her -- preventing her from self-destructing.

"I just do," she said. "I didn't even think somebody has been noticing."

Miranda Welch, who is studying women's studies and English, received the Adele Kimm Scholarship, designated for a women's studies student.

"It means the world to me, and it could not have come at a better time, really," Welch said.

She said the opportunities available to her through the Women's Resource and Action Center helped shape her into the person she's become.

"They have really helped me to make my own impossibles possible," she said.

The other award winners were Brianna Byrd as the Wynonna G. Hubbard Scholarship recipient; Elithet Silva-Martinez as the recipient of the Jane A. Weiss Memorial Scholarship; professor Rachel Williams as the recipient of the Jean Y. Jew Women's Rights Award; and Donna Pearcy, the university's chief risk officer, receiving the Distinguished Leadership Award.