Women’s Society presents leadership awards, scholarship

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 13.

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 winners

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 seniors Caitlin Chicoine and Jessica Davie.

Harriet K. Switzer Leadership Award winners

Mary Butkus

Harriet K. Switzer Leadership Award winners Caitlin Chicoine (center) and Jessica Davie (right) talk with Cindy Woolsey of the Women’s Society after the awards ceremony in the Women’s Building Formal Lounge.

Chicoine, of Arlington Heights, Ill., will graduate May 20 with a bachelor of science degree in biomedical engineering.

Chicoine has a 4.0 grade-point average and is a member of Alpha Eta Mu Beta biomedical engineering honor society. She has received the Antoinette Francis Dames Award for Productive Scholarship from the School of Engineering & Applied Science and the Robert N. Varney Prize from the Department of Physics in Arts & Sciences.

As a student in the lab of biomedical engineering Professor Rohit Pappu, PhD, Chicoine was included as an author for a publication that was presented at the National Academy of Sciences.

While assuming leadership and mentoring roles across campus, Chicoine has served for the past three years on the executive board of the annual Dance Marathon event, which raises money for the Children’s Miracle Network. In 2010, when Chicoine was co-executive director, Dance Marathon recorded its highest-ever total money raised, bringing in more than $175,000.

A Danforth Scholar herself, Chicoine mentors underclass Danforth Scholars and also helps lead retreats at the Catholic Student Center.

Outside of WUSTL’s campus, Chicoine’s leadership and service activities include a service trip to Peru and volunteering at Habitat for Humanity in Mississippi and Alabama and Advocate Lutheran General Hospital near her hometown in Park Ridge, Ill.

Davie, of St. Louis, will graduate May 20 as well with a bachelor’s degree in educational studies with a minor in drama, both in Arts & Sciences.

To encourage high school students to improve their academic performances and think about higher education, Davie founded the Learning to Live program with St. Louis-area high schools, meeting with high school teachers to identify students who would benefit and recruiting WUSTL students to serve as mentors. She began the program by organizing transportation and food with her own resources and the resources of her professors. Under Davie, the Learning to Live program has gained Student Union status, which will help sustain the program after Davie graduates.

On and behind the stage, Davie has been involved in theater at WUSTL and in the St. Louis area. Davie played a lead role in the Performing Arts Department’s Eclipsed in early April at WUSTL’s A.E. Hotchner Studio Theatre and has performed with The Black Rep in St. Louis and in Black Anthology at WUSTL. She was an intern at The Black Rep in the summer of 2010, learning all aspects of theater production, and took a lead in organizing the symposium “Uncovering/Discovering the Other,” co-sponsored by The Black Rep and the College of Arts & Sciences, at WUSTL.

After graduation, Davie plans to earn a master of fine arts in acting.

The Women’s Society Leadership Award, now in its 14th 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 recipient

The Women’s Society, with the help of Chancellor Emeritus William H. Danforth presented an Elizabeth Gray Danforth Scholarship — which covers full tuition at Washington University and is awarded to outstanding St. Louis Community College transfer students — to David Williams.

Elizabeth Gray Danforth Scholarship winner David Williams
David Williams (left) with Chancellor Emeritus William H. Danforth in the Women’s Building Formal Lounge.

Three other continuing students, selected in prior years, also hold the scholarship.

Williams, of St. Louis, has studied business at St. Louis Community College, Meramec, where he has maintained a 4.0 grade-point average. He previously attended Saint Louis University.

Williams’ service work includes volunteering for Special Olympics, food pantries and homeless shelters in the St. Louis area. He also referees little leagues during the weekends.

At Saint Louis University, Williams was a member of the Freshmen in Business Club and fraternity Sigma Alpha Epsilon and participated in Army ROTC.

After initially beginning college with plans to become a dentist, Williams discovered through coursework a strong interest in economics. He plans to earn a bachelor’s degree in finance at Olin Business School or economics in Arts & Sciences with hopes eventually to earn a law degree.

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.