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KU announces 2013-14 Women of Distinction

Fri, 08/30/2013

LAWRENCE — The 2013-14 University of Kansas Women of Distinction calendar will honor 24 female students, staff and faculty and alumnae for outstanding achievements.

A reception for the 2013-14 honorees will be 4 p.m.-5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 3, in the Big 12 Room of the Kansas Union. Calendars are available at several locations across campus.

Those featured in the 2013-14 Women of Distinction calendar are listed below.

Students, faculty and alumnae featured for individual achievements:

Alesha E. Doan is an associate professor of political science and chair of the Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies department. In 2012, she received the Outstanding Young Professional Award from the Population, Reproductive and Sexual Health Section of the American Public Health Association. Doan has published two successful books, titled “Opposition and Intimidation: The Abortion Wars and Strategies of Political Harassment,” 2007, and “Politics of Virginity: Abstinence in Sex Education,” 2008.

Alexis Knutsen is a senior from Overland Park majoring in classical languages. She is the founder of the women’s English class “A Cup of Conversation,” which began during the 2012-13 academic year. Knutsen is a Critical Language Scholarship recipient for Arabic study in Oman during the summer of 2013 and a Foreign Language and Area Studies scholarship winner for Arabic study for the 2013-14 academic year.

Mulubrhan (Mulu) Evangline Negash received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from KU as a McNair Scholar and Dean’s Scholar. She now serves as director of the McNair Scholars Program, helping low-income, first-generation college students in the Center for Educational Opportunity Programs of the Achievement and Assessment Institute.

Alyssa Ong is a senior from Malaysia majoring in finance and accounting. Winner of the 2013 Student Leadership Award, Ong is a Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U) campus representative and founder and president of CGI U-KU, where she works with students interested in initiating service projects in the community.

Lt. Molly C. Rutledge was selected as the 2013 U.S Public Health Service Junior Officer Therapist of the Year. Lt. Rutledge is a speech-language pathologist working with the Navajo American Indian Reservation at the Tsehootsooi Medical Center at Fort Defiance, Ariz. She developed and manages a comprehensive speech-language program that addresses all speech/swallowing/cognitive disorders for patients of TMC and the IHS community. She is a previous recipient of the U.S. Public Health Service Achievement medal and a two-time winner of the Excellence Awards for Continuing Education from the American Speech-Language Hearing Association.

Jill Wenderott is a senior from Alma studying physics. She was a 2011-12 University Scholar in the Honors Program and served as Center for Community Outreach executive director for the 2012-13 academic year. In 2013, Wenderott was named a Research Award Winner.

Students, faculty and alumnae featured for group recognition:

Team players
Megan Smith, head softball coach for Kansas Athletics, last year led the Jayhawks to their best winning percentage since 1992. The squad finished fourth in the Big 12 Conference — their best finish since 2001 — and recorded the best batting average in Big 12 history. The team’s historic season included an upset victory over eventual NCAA National Champion Oklahoma.

Maggie Hull-Tietz, Lawrence, graduated this spring from the William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communication and also played four years with the Jayhawk softball team. The Free State High School graduate was a Third Team Capital One CoSIDA All-American and a First Team Capital One CoSIDA Academic All-American. She was selected 11th overall to the Chicago Bandits in the 2013 National Pro Fastpitch League Draft.

Rosie Hull, the sister of Maggie Hull, mentioned above, was an integral member of the KU softball squad. Rosie was on the Academic All-Big 12 First Team for three straight seasons and a 2013 Gerald Lage Award Winner, the Big 12 Conference’s highest academic honor. She is a member of the Phi Beta Kappa National Academic Honorary Society and graduated from KU in 2013.

Advocates for Change
Vicky Reyes
is a senior in elementary education and a resident assistant in McCollum Hall since 2012. In 2013, she founded KU’s chapter of Hermandad de Sigma Iota Alpha Inc., a historically Latina-based national sorority that strives to expand awareness of the Latino culture, promote sisterhood and leadership, and serve as a model of excellence in academics and achievements among women. The Garden City native has twice been named the Hispanic American Leadership Organization Member of the Year.

Amanda G. Johnson, recent KU alumna, was on the KU honor roll and was the Dr. Fred Rodriguez Academic Achievement Award winner for spring 2013. She served as National Pan-Hellenic Council president in 2012.

Fatoumata Bayo is a senior from Warren, Mich., majoring in chemistry and psychology with an emphasis on pharmaceutical studies. Bayo won Student Organization Member of the Year at the Jayhawk Choice Awards for her work with the Black Student Union. She also received both the Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Nelson Mandela awards as a member of the Big 12 Council on Black Student Government.

Reconstructing Voices: Women in the Humanities
Giselle Anatol
is an associate professor and director of graduate studies in English. Anatol was a Conger-Gabel Teaching Professor from 2001-04 and won the Mabel S. Fry Award for Teaching in 2001 for excellence in both classroom teaching and graduate student mentoring. She participated in the New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture Scholar-in-Residence fellowship program in 2012.

Jill S. Kuhnheim is a professor in the Department of Spanish and Latin American Studies and director for the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies. She has been granted the Hall Center for the Humanities Research Fellowship twice (2001, 2011) and won the KU Cramer Award for Outstanding Research in both 2002 and 2004. Kuhnheim’s “Spanish American Poetry at the End of the 20th Century: Textual Disruptions” was awarded the Byron Caldwell Award for best book in the humanities from the Hall Center in 2005.

Dorthy Pennington, associate professor of communication studies and African and African-American Studies, received her master’s degree and doctorate from KU and was awarded numerous Kansas Humanities Grants for 1982-83, including a public research grant compiling histories and cultural roles of black churches in Lawrence. She earned the Teaching Achievement Recognition Award in 2002 from the KU Center for Teaching Excellence and has been an invited speaker to Oxford University three times.

Kathy Porsch serves as a grant development officer for the Hall Center for Humanities and is a KU alumna (Master of Science, 1990). During her time as a student, she was initiated into the Phi Kappa Phi National Honor Society and the Kappa Tau Alpha Honor Society of Journalists. Last year, she received the Staff Appreciation Award from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Students Transforming the World
Brittany Krutty
is a physics graduate student who earned her Bachelor of Science from KU in 2013. She served as KU Habitat for Humanity president for the 2011-12 academic year and earned a Goldwater Scholarship in 2012. Krutty was selected as a Self Graduate Fellow for 2013. She is a native of Olathe and Troy, Mich.

Nicole Nunes, Wichita, is a senior majoring in journalism and minoring in business and psychology. She served on the Alpha Delta Pi Executive Board from 2012-13 and was Order of Omega President for 2012-13. She currently holds the vice president position of the Journalism Student Ambassador program for the 2013-14 year.

Natalie Scott is a senior from Topeka majoring in psychology. Scott was a University Scholar for the 2012-12 academic year and served as the spring break and fundraising coordinator for Alternative Breaks from 2011-13. She also held the position of orientation coordinator for the Office of First Year Experience for 2012-13.

Hannah Sitz is a senior from Andover majoring in journalism and psychology. She has been co-director of KU Alternative Breaks since 2012 and earned a Coro Kansas City Summer Internship in Public Affairs in 2012. Sitz was also named a Harry S. Truman Scholar in 2013.

Promoting Healthy Communities through Education and Advocacy
Dr. Paige Geiger
is a KU alumna (Bachelor of Arts, 1995) and an associate professor of molecular and integrative physiology. She earned Association of American Medical Colleges’ Early Career and Mid-Career Women Faculty Professional Development Conference scholarships in 2008 and 2012 and served as president of the KU School of Medicine Women in Medicine and Science for the 2012-13 year. She will continue to be a regular member of the NIH Integrative Physiology of Obesity and Diabetes Study Section through 2017.

Jenny McKee earned her Master’s of Science in Education from KU and now serves as health educator and grant coordinator for the Health Education Resource Center, which provides prevention health education to thousands of KU students regarding alcohol and sexuality. McKee is also a Safe Zone facilitator and was nominated for Douglas County AIDS Project’s Spirit of DCAP Award in 2012.

Artistic Achievers
Barbara A. O’Brien
is currently the executive director of the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art in Kansas City and holds two degrees from KU. She joined the Kemper Museum staff in 2009 as curator and was promoted in 2012. O’Brien served as a visiting scholar to the Women’s Studies Research Center at Brandeis University in 2005-06 and won the National Alumni Award for Professional Achievement from Rhode Island School of Design in 2006.

Jenny Curatola, Lansing, is a senior in English, theater and global and international studies. She is the co-founder and artistic director of the Jayhawk Initiative for Student Theatre and the recipient of the 2012-13 Jayhawk Choice Award for New Organization of the Year. Curatola is a 2013-14 Hall Center Scholar and the winner of the Jack and Lavon Creativity Award for her original performance piece, “One Wild and Precious Life.”



Wanna Skype? Chancellor gets creative to surprise Truman winner. See it here: http://bit.ly/1awodaa
Rock Chalk! Junior Ashlie Koehn named KU's 18th Truman Scholar
Ashlie Koehn, a University of Kansas junior from Burns studying in Kyrgyzstan, interrupted helping her host family prepare dinner to make a Skype call on Monday evening.

.@NYTimes columnist @WCRhoden will speak at a symposium about race and sports April 23. http://t.co/UiKA9MYNv0 http://t.co/PHwCOHqcfD
Wanna Skype? Chancellor gets creative to surprise Truman winner From KU News Service: http://bit.ly/1awodaa Ashlie Koehn, a University of Kansas junior from Burns studying in Kyrgyzstan, interrupted helping her host family prepare dinner to make a Skype call on Monday evening. To her surprise, Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little was on the other end of the call letting Koehn know she had been named a 2015 Harry S. Truman Scholar. Koehn is the 18th KU student to be named a Truman Scholar and the only 2015 recipient from the state of Kansas. Earlier this month, she was also named a 2015 Udall Scholar. And in spite of a distance of more than 10,800 kilometers and 11 time zones, Koehn’s thrill from hearing the news from the chancellor came through loud and clear. “Ashlie’s experience at KU epitomizes a quality undergraduate experience. She challenged herself in her coursework, exposed herself to different research opportunities, studied abroad in Germany, Switzerland and Kyrgyzstan, and participated in both student government and community service projects,” Gray-Little said. “This is quite a year for Ashlie. Her hard work is a wonderful reflection on her and also a great reflection on the university, and we all congratulate her.” Each new Truman Scholar receives up to $30,000 for graduate study. Scholars also receive priority admission and supplemental financial aid at some premier graduate institutions, leadership training, career and graduate school counseling, and special internship opportunities within the federal government. Koehn, a member of KU’s nationally recognized University Honors Program, is majoring in environmental studies, economics and international studies. Her goal after earning her KU degree is to pursue a master’s degree in economics at either the London School of Economics or the University of Reading, with a focus on the economics of climate change. In 2014, she received KU’s Newman Civic Engagement Award for her work establishing the Coalition against Slavery and Trafficking. Her involvement with the issue was sparked by Hannah Britton, associate professor of political science and women, gender, and sexuality studies, who hosted national conference on contemporary slavery at KU three years ago. “Ashlie and I met several times to think about what KU students could contribute to the issue of slavery and human trafficking, and the result was her founding of KU CAST,” Britton said. “After a year as president, Ashlie successfully handed the organization over to the next student leader. She demonstrated her strong leadership qualities by setting a unique goal and then pursuing it with her sense of passion, engagement and dedication. No matter the country or context, her leadership strength is evident in her coursework, her public service and her work experiences.” The University Honors Program works with a campus committee to select KU’s nominees for the Truman Scholarship and supports them during the application process. Anne Wallen, assistant director of national fellowships and scholarships, noted it was an amazing ruse to pull off the surprise. Originally, the call was set up to be between Wallen and Koehn. “I was totally not prepared to be greeted by Chancellor Gray-Little, but it was an amazing surprise for sure,” Koehn said. “As a first-generation student, it took time to learn the collegiate system, but my parents taught me to be resourceful and independent from a young age and KU and the Kansas Air National Guard have provided me with the opportunities to drive me into the future, both at graduate school and in my career. I plan to use the Truman Scholarship to pursue a career as an environmental economist helping to shape future trade agreements and leverage action on important international environmental issues, particularly concerning climate change.” Koehn also had a surprise of her own for the chancellor — the meal she was helping to prepare was not exactly typical Kansas dinner fare. On the menu with her host family in Kyrgyzstan on Monday was a traditional Kyrgyz meal called Beshbarmak, or “five fingers,” because you eat it with your hands. The dish is made of horse and sheep and was being prepared as a birthday celebration for Koehn’s host mom. Chancellor Gray-Little, as she signed off from Skype, made sure to encourage Koehn to enjoy her Beshbarmak. Koehn is the daughter of Rodney and Carolyn Koehn of Burns. She graduated from Fredric Remington High School in Moundridge. She is an active member of the Kansas Air National Guard and currently on leave while studying abroad in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. She is a member of the KU Global Scholars Program and a past member of the Student Senate. In addition to being named a 2015 Truman and Udall scholar, she was named a 2014 Boren Scholar and Gilman Scholar and in 2013 was named the Kansas Air National Guard Airman of the Year.


One of 34 U.S. public institutions in the prestigious Association of American Universities
26 prestigious Rhodes Scholars — more than all other Kansas colleges combined
Nearly $290 million in financial aid annually
46 nationally ranked graduate programs.
—U.S. News & World Report
Top 50 nationwide for size of library collection.
—ALA
23rd nationwide for service to veterans —"Best for Vets," Military Times