Women of Distinction

Six women honored at annual award ceremony

BGSU students, faculty and staff who have the excellence, ingenuity and ability to overcome barriers for women were honored at the 4th annual Women of Distinction Awards March 1. The women selected for this honor represent diverse backgrounds, personal characteristics and life experiences. They are also lifelong advocates for promoting equity for women and girls everywhere.

Twenty-two faculty, staff and students, both undergraduate and graduate, were nominated for this award. The six finalists were chosen for serving as role models and/or mentors, empowering women and girls to achieve their goals, demonstrating a commitment to the BGSU mission, encouraging others to live up to BGSU’s core values, advocating for policies and practices intended to produce equitable outcomes for all and for making extraordinary contributions in her communities.

The finalists were:

Michaela Schrum is a senior majoring in International Studies with a minor in Middle Eastern Studies. Schrum received a Hoskins Fellowship and has been to Palestine to research the Palestinian Israeli conflict to further develop her knowledge of the Middle East.

Pempho Chinkondenji is a second-year graduate student in the Master of Art in Cross Cultural and International Education program. Chinkondenji co-founded the non-profit “Loving Arms” to help women who have been sexually abused in her home country of Malawi. Chinkondenji currently serves as the international affairs chair for the Graduate Student Senate.

Keji Kujjo is a second-year graduate student in the Master of Art in Cross Cultural and International Education program. In conjunction with the Women’s Center, Kujjo completed a grant that funded BGSU’s first Elect Her Leadership training program, which encourages and trains college women to run effective campaigns for student government as well as more prominent government positions down the road. Kujjo also initiated the BGSU Sheroes recognition campaign for unsung heroes, role models, and mentors.

Sheila Brown is the associate director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs and has been working at BGSU for 17 years. In her role she helps provide leadership for multicultural programming. Brown advises Queens of Color and the Element Dance Team. She also serves as a liaison to the Black Student Union and the Multi-Faith Alliance.

Sara Chambers has been a lecturer of theatre and film at BGSU for 16 years. She focuses on female-centered theatre, supports women in their womanhood, and provides opportunities for women to come into and activate their bodies. She is the co-founder and Artistic Director of Broken Spectacles Productions.

Maureen Doyle is a senior at BGSU, majoring in History with a minor in Women’s Studies. Doyle was president of Omega Phi Alpha National Service Sorority last year, is currently president of the Multicultural Greek Council and is a Student Leadership Assistant for the Center for Leadership.

The ceremony included a panel discussion that allowed the six finalists to share their advice, inspiration and experiences.

"Honestly, I still cannot believe that I am one of the six women honored with this prestigious award," Chinkondenji said. "I feel extremely humbled, because I never even dreamed that this was going to happen. I cannot say that I received this award because of my personal efforts alone, but I am surrounded by strong support systems that keep me going. This award makes me appreciate all those people, and motivates me to keep pressing on and working hard to advocate for women and girls. I strongly desire to see other young women, especially those from developing countries just like me, excel and find life-changing opportunities that will help them to live a life of purpose."