Women’s Society presents leadership award, scholarships

The Women’s Society of Washington University honored the legacy of two of the university’s most revered women — Harriet K. Switzer and the late Elizabeth Gray Danforth — at its annual meeting April 21.

The society presented the Harriet K. Switzer Leadership Award and the Elizabeth Gray Danforth Scholarship to three exemplary college students at the Women’s Building Formal Lounge.

Harriet K. Switzer Leadership Award winner

The Harriet K. Switzer Leadership Award — presented annually to a young woman who has made a significant contribution to Washington University as an undergraduate — was presented to senior Stephanie Wong.

Mary Butkus

Stephanie Wong (center), a senior in Arts & Sciences, talks with Harriet Switzer, PhD (right), and Joni Karandjeff, president of the Women’s Society, before the awards ceremony. Wong will attend graduate school this fall at Yale University Divinity School.

Wong, of Newport Beach, Calif., will graduate May 21 with a bachelor of arts degree in religious studies and English literature, both in Arts & Sciences.

Wong has a 3.95 grade-point average and is a member of Phi Beta Kappa national honors society and Theta Alpha Kappa, a religious studies honors society. She is a member of the Annika Rodriguez Scholars Program and has been a member of the dean’s list at WUSTL since fall 2006.

Wong has committed many hours each week to community service activities — including tutoring, mentoring, and collecting and distributing food for families in need — with organizations such as the Catholic Student Center at Washington University, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, and an academic tutoring program at Eskridge High School in Wellston, Mo., that she co-founded as a freshman.

The tutoring program at Eskridge, which Wong still leads, has helped students improve overall test scores by more than 30 percent, and, in the past three years, nearly the entire senior class at Eskridge has been accepted into higher education programs.

Wong will attend graduate school this fall at Yale University Divinity School.

The Women’s Society Leadership Award, now in its 13th year, was renamed the Harriet K. Switzer Leadership Award in 2007 in honor of Switzer, PhD, longtime secretary to the Board of Trustees and university coordinator for the Women’s Society.

The award 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 Scholarship recipients

The society, with the help of Chancellor Emeritus William H. Danforth, MD, presented Elizabeth Gray Danforth Scholarships — which cover full tuition at Washington University and are awarded to outstanding St. Louis Community College transfer students — to Vivek Khattri and Sana Naghipour.

Elizabeth Gray Danforth Scholarship recipients Vivek Khattri (left) and Sana Naghipour (center) meet with Chancellor Emeritus William H. Danforth, MD, before the scholarship awards ceremony. Both Khattri and Naghipour are students at St. Louis Community College.

Khattri, originally from Nepal, has a 4.0 grade-point average and will graduate from St. Louis Community College with an associate of science degree in mathematics.

A member of the National Society for Black Engineers, Khattri’s academic achievements have been recognized through his being included in “Who’s Who Among Students in American Junior Colleges,” the “All-USA TODAY Academic Team,” and the “All-Missouri Academic Team.”

Khattri assists fellow students in their studies by working as a peer tutor in calculus and physics and as a supplemental instructor for the “Introduction to Chemistry” class. He has served as vice president of scholarship for Xi Epsilon and also has helped build homes for low-income families through Habitat for Humanity.

Among Khattri’s goals are to study systems engineering and finance at WUSTL, attend graduate school, work as a NASA engineer and become a college professor.

Naghipour, a native of Iran, is a member of the Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society. Also listed among “Who’s Who Among Students in American Junior Colleges” and a member of Phi Theta Kappa’s national and international dean’s list, she will graduate from St. Louis Community College with an associate’s degree in engineering science.

As a member of Phi Theta Kappa, Naghipour helped lead publicity efforts to raise awareness and funds for PlayPumps International, an organization that works to bring clean water to communities worldwide, through a trivia night. She also helped bring model “PlayPumps” to a St. Louis Community College campus.

Naghipour has served as a mathematics and science tutor at St. Louis Community College’s Student Success Center and was a representative on the Student Appellate Committee.

She plans to earn a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the School of Engineering & Applied Science.

The Elizabeth Gray Danforth Scholarship was established in 1976 and was renamed in 1995 in honor of Elizabeth Gray Danforth, wife of Chancellor Emeritus William H. Danforth, and the university’s first lady for 24 years.

The Women’s Society

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

The society was founded in 1965 to engage women in the life of the university through education, scholarships, student projects and leadership.

Women need not be WUSTL professors or alumnae — or have any other connection to Washington University — to join the Women’s Society. It is open to all who have an interest in supporting the mission and students of Washington University and are seeking intellectual enrichment or networking opportunities.

For more information, visit womenssociety.wustl.edu or call (314) 935-7337.