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Dr. Lisa McBride

Posted on January 22, 2010

A woman with a heart for educating others, one with a passion for organizing social-awareness events, and a third who is pursuing a lifelong dream to be a teacher have each been recognized as an Outstanding Woman of the Year for Fall 2009.

The awards are given each semester by the President’s Commission on the Status of Women (PCSW), established in 1990 with the support of President Angelo Armenti, Jr.

“The commission focuses on women’s issues and concerns, advocates on their behalf and recommends to the President specific actions that should be taken to improve the status of women at California University,” said Dr. Lisa M. McBride, special assistant to the president for equality employment and education opportunity (EEEO), University ombudsperson and interim president of the PCSW in the Office of Social Equity.

The honorees are Melissa Nelson in the graduate category, Katie Mercadante in the undergraduate category and Julie Miller in the non-traditional undergraduate category.

— Nelson graduated in December with a master’s of education degree. She tutors students to help them prepare for the PRAXIS II elementary teaching certification, is active with Science Olympiad and developed the American Sign Language curriculum for the Pittsburgh Public Schools.

Nelson currently is working on the development of a charter school to aid English-as-a-Second-Language students to improve their English and learn two major world languages.

“We are looking for outstanding women, and Melissa certainly stands out,” said Dr. Connie Armitage, who joined Jane Bonari in nominating Nelson for the award.

“She stands out in a crowd for her professionalism and work ethic. She’s involved in so many things. She’s a real go-getter.”

— Mercadante is pursuing bachelor of science degrees in earth science and secondary education with a minor in GIS/emergency management. She has organized campus events such as Walk a Mile in Her Shoes and Take Back the Night to raise awareness of women’s issues. As a community assistant, she hosted programming to discuss the issue of date rape and served as a resource for female residents. She also has been a leader in several sororities on campus.

“Katie is a high achiever in her male-dominated field of earth science and meteorology,” wrote nominator Karen Posa, director of University-wide mentoring. “Periodically throughout my career, I have had a few opportunities to meet an exceptional student who stands out among the rest. Katie Mercadante is one of those students.”

— Miller, who is pursuing a bachelor of science in education, came back to school to achieve her dream of becoming a teacher. She is active in her community with the Perryopolis Heritage Society, developing and running a one-room schoolhouse demonstration during the town’s Pioneer Days.

She also works full-time at Linden Hall Corp., helping to prepare young women to be the leaders of their generation. She is the proud mother of two daughters, both in college themselves.

Noted Bonari in her nomination letter, “Julie’s dedication to hard work and her desire to help people will enable her to become an outstanding teacher.”

The awards were presented at a luncheon in December. Guest speaker was Lynda Jones, president of the California, Pa., chapter of the AAUW, formerly known as the American Association of University Women.

For more information about the President’s Commission on the Status of Women, contact McBride at 724-938-4014 or