At The Women’s Society of Washington University’s annual meeting, student awards are presented recognizing leadership and academic achievement. A highlight of the program is the announcement of the Elizabeth Gray Danforth Scholarship recipient.
This year was not an ordinary year. On April 20, the Women’s Society celebrated its 40th anniversary with a special luncheon in Francis Gymnasium. Past society presidents and honorees joined current members and society board members for the awarding of the 30th Danforth Scholarship and the eighth set of leadership awards.
President JoAnn Sanditz said this year’s scholarship presentation “is filled with deep emotion as we join Bill Danforth and his family in mourning the loss of dear ‘Ibby’ and pay tribute to her.
“She always experienced such joy in meeting her scholar each year,” Sanditz said of Elizabeth Danforth, who died March 30. “She has left the Women’s Society a legacy of genuine concern for others, commitment to service, enthusiasm for lifelong learning, and an inspirational dedication to the people she loved and the causes in which she believed.
“Our tribute to Ibby is our commitment to move into the future with her values and qualities at the forefront of the Women’s Society.”
Chancellor Emeritus William H. Danforth joined Sanditz in presenting the full-tuition Danforth Scholarship, which is awarded to an outstanding community-college transfer student and is named in honor of his wife for her decades of contributions to the University.
This year’s recipient is Shahrouz Yousefi, a graduate of Forest Park Community College who emigrated from Iran just three years ago, speaking no English and knowing no one here.
In Iran, he was not allowed to attend college and was fired from his job because he was not Muslim. He now plans to study electrical engineering.
“This is the most wonderful day of my life,” he said in receiving the award. ” … I will never forget your kindness and generosity to me.”
Women’s Society Leadership Awards were presented to Laura M. Seger and Teresa A. Sullivan.
The award recognizes one or more graduating senior women who have contributed significantly to the University community. Nominees must have demonstrated effectiveness in service to others and exceptional potential for future leadership.
Awardees receive a cash award of $500 and a silver clock inscribed with a quote from Virginia Woolf: “I should remind you how much depends upon you and what an influence you can exert upon the future.”
Seger will graduate with a double major in biomedical engineering in the School of Engineering & Applied Science and philosophy in Arts & Sciences; a master’s degree in mechanical engineering; and a graduate certificate in biomedical engineering, all in five years.
Seger has also distinguished herself by reaching across academic and social barriers to create an extraordinary legacy of achievements.
She organized and found funding for what became the Washington University Marrow Registry. More than 1,000 people have entered the registry, with at least 15 lives saved as a direct result.
Seger has also served as a member of the Institutional Review Board for approval of human studies at the School of Medicine, and she has been on a team developing a pain inventory for cancer patients.
She has been a leader in the development of the Center for the Study of Ethics and Human Values, helping to organize a national forum on medical malpractice reform, among other activities.
Seger also plays the flute in the University orchestra and the St. Louis Wind Symphony.
Sullivan will graduate with bachelor’s degrees in international studies and in Spanish, both in Arts & Sciences. She has been a dynamic force in seeking opportunities to enhance her experience at the University.
She has served as a community service adviser, assisting students with their community service options; taught English as a second language; been a tutor coordinator for the Cambios tutoring program, an organization serving Latino adolescents in the St. Louis area; and founded the St. Louis Project Democracy, which coordinates voter mobilization efforts on campus and builds coalitions.
In 2004, Sullivan was selected to be the University’s lead intern for Project Democracy at the national level.
Although there were specific guidelines to follow, through her creativity and willingness to experiment, Sullivan demonstrated impressive skills in motivating people to participate in the process. Under her leadership, Project Democracy at WUSTL has become the most successful chapter in the country.
Sullivan is a residential adviser and serves as one of two undergraduate representatives to the University’s Board of Trustees and to several of the board’s standing committees.