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Outstanding women

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Posted on May 3, 2010

Three outstanding female students were honored April 30 for their excellence in the support and advancement of women at California University.

Katie Kingsley, Kim Luccini and Anne Blakeslee accepted their Spring 2010 Outstanding Woman of the Year plaques at a luncheon presented by the President's Commission on the Status of Women (PCSW).

The awards are given each semester by the commission, which was established with the support of President Angelo Armenti, Jr.

"These women are definitely the architects of a better society, wouldn't you agree?" said Dr. Lisa M. McBride, special assistant to the president for equal employment and educational opportunity. McBride also serves as University ombudsperson and interim president of the PCSW in the Office of Social Equity.

Kingsley was honored as a graduate student, Lucchini as a non-traditional undergraduate and Blakeslee as a traditional undergraduate student. All three are scheduled to graduate this spring.

- Kingsley will graduate with a Master's of Education in school counseling. She has been a graduate assistant, working with Fran Fayish, a nurse practitioner and wellness educator in the Office of Student Affairs.

In this role, Kingsley has created programming to educate students on the dangers of alcohol and other drugs. She also is a recipient of the Student Counselor of the Year Award at Cal U.

In her personal time, she has collected items for women and children at the Washington Women's Shelter.

"What sets Katie apart from others is that she is extremely self-motivated and reliable 100 percent of the time," Fayish said. She "completed every assignment delegated to her without fail and does so in a way that always exceeds my expectations."

- Lucchini will graduate with a bachelor's degree in Liberal Studies with minors in Industrial Organization, Psychology and Women's Studies.

She is co-founder and vice president for the new student group Social Justice Activism Now - or So Just Act Now! - which helps to achieve social justice not only for members of the campus community but also for the community at large.

In its first year, So Just Act Now! planned a major event to increase social awareness of the pay gap between men and women in Pittsburgh.

Lucchini helped to coordinate events for the annual Audrey-Beth Fitch Women's Conference and for the "Walk a Mile in Her Shoes" event to raise awareness about violence against women.

She is also a member of the PCSW - but was kept in the dark about her own award!

Lucchini credited Dr. Marta McClintock-Comeaux, director of the Women's Center, for her growth as a student and as a woman.

"Throughout my studies at Cal U, ‘Dr. Mac's' classes have been my favorites because they're relevant in my life. Because of ‘Dr. Mac,' I discovered many things about myself I didn't know. ... All these things happened because one very special professor saw something in me, believed in me and took the time to help navigate me through.'

- Blakeslee will graduate with a bachelor's degree in International Studies.  She is in the Honors Program and works full time. She has demonstrated her commitment to equity issues by raising awareness on Capitol Hill about women in Darfur, Sudan, who are being raped as a weapon of war.

Her Honors thesis, "Funding for Equality: Breaking the Glass Ceiling of the United States Senate," discusses the difficulties often faced by female candidates.

She has interned for California, Pa., Mayor Casey Durdines '07, who was so impressed with his first female intern that he hired another woman based on her recommendation.

"I knew Anne was a standout when we first met," said Dr. Melanie Blumberg, professor of Political Science and campus director of the American Democracy Project. "She is an intelligent and engaging young woman who takes on difficult challenges. The more demanding the assignment, the more she relishes the challenge."

Kay Dorrance, the P.E.A.C.E. Project coordinator, victim's advocate for the Office of Student Affairs and coordinator of the Women's Center, was presented with the Outstanding Master of Social Work Student award. Dorrance, a Spring 2008 Woman of the Year winner, welcomed the new group "to the club."

Gena Sproul, assistant director in the Office of Social Equity, was the master of ceremonies for the event.