Outstanding students honored with award, scholarships by Women’s Society

The Women’s Society of Washington University honored the legacy of two of the University’s most revered women — Elizabeth Gray Danforth and Harriet K. Switzer — at its annual meeting April 16.

The society presented the Harriet K. Switzer Leadership Award and two Elizabeth Gray Danforth Scholarships to three exemplary college students at the Formal Lounge of the Ann Whitney Olin Women’s Building.

Harriet K. Switzer Leadership Award

Chancellor Emeritus William H. Danforth, M.D., presents one of two Elizabeth Gray Danforth Scholarships to St. Louis Community College-Meramec student Jack Duncan. The Elizabeth Gray Danforth Scholarship awards full tuition at WUSTL to an outstanding community college transfer student. It was established in 1976 and was renamed in honor of the former chancellor’s wife in 1995.

The Harriet K. Switzer Leadership Award was presented to WUSTL senior Marquita James. James, who grew up in Alexandria, La., will graduate May 16 with a bachelor’s degree in English literature from the College of Arts and Sciences. She is the co-founder and program coordinator of the St. Louis Family Court Mentoring Program, which connects WUSTL students with at-risk youths in need of mentorship, and is a TRIO Fellow for the TRIO Leadership Program, which helps low-income and first-generation college students become more integrated members of the campus community.

James also is a Mellon Mays Undergraduate Research Fellow and has been a writing fellow and academic mentor with both The Writing Center and Cornerstone: The Center for Advanced Learning.

James, former president of the Black Pre-Law Society, has been accepted to many prestigious law schools, including Columbia University, Harvard University and the University of California, Berkeley.

The Women’s Leadership Award, now in its 12th year, was renamed the Harriet K. Switzer Leadership Award in 2007 in honor of Switzer, Ph.D., longtime secretary of the Board of Trustees and University coordinator for the Women’s Society. The award is presented annually to a young woman who has made a significant contribution to the University as an undergraduate. It consists of a $500 cash prize and a silver clock inscribed with a quote from English writer Virginia Woolf: “I should remind you how much depends upon you and what an influence you can exert upon the future.”

Elizabeth Gray Danforth Scholarships

The society, with the help of Chancellor Emeritus William H. Danforth, M.D., presented two Elizabeth Gray Danforth Scholarships — which cover full tuition at the University and are annually awarded to two outstanding local community college transfer students — to Nicholas Bloom and Jack Duncan.

Bloom, a 4.0 grade-point average student at St. Louis Community College-Florissant Valley, is a Cisco Networking graduate with an advanced knowledge of computer networking, programming and hardware. He has worked as a package-handler and equipment operator at FedEx while attending school; for a semester, he worked full-time while carrying a 17-credit academic load at Florissant Valley.

Bloom plans to eventually earn a doctorate in psychology and become either a practicing psychologist or a social scientist with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Duncan, also a 4.0 grade-point-average student, attends St. Louis Community College-Meramec and has served two tours of duty in Iraq as a specialist in the U.S. Army. He has worked at the Museum of Transportation as a restoration, maintenance and operations volunteer and also as a volunteer with the Missouri Public Interest Research Group. Duncan serves as vice president of Meramec’s Phi Theta Kappa chapter and is a member of the school’s Math League.

Duncan is interested in either the B.S.-M.S. program in the School of Engineering or double-majoring in mechanical engineering and physics in Arts & Sciences. He says his goal is eventually to help develop simple, sustainable and ecologically responsible methods of power generation that can be implemented in Third World countries.

The Elizabeth Gray Danforth Scholarship was established in 1976 and was renamed in honor of the late Elizabeth Gray Danforth, the University’s first lady for 24 years, in 1995.

In 2007, the society was able to expand the award and offer two scholarships to outstanding community college students.

The Women’s Society is a group of more 600 volunteers and professional women from the St. Louis community area.

The society was founded in 1965 to cultivate ambassadors for the University, to provide support for the University community and to advance a reciprocal understanding of the needs and purposes of the University and the community.

Women need not be WUSTL professors or alumnas — or parents or wives of WUSTL alumni or professors — to join the Women’s Society.

For more information, visit womenssociety.wustl.edu or call 935-7337.