Women’s Society honors students with awards, scholarships

Debbie Killmer (right) presents the Switzer Leadership Award to recipients (from left) Emily Angstreich, Arielle Smith, Gabriella Smith, Helen Webley-Brown, Kennedy Young and Caitlind Walker. (Courtesy photo)

The Women’s Society of Washington University announced the winners of the Harriet K. Switzer Leadership Award and the Elizabeth Gray Danforth Scholarships during its annual membership meeting April 21. 

Debbie Killmer, chair of the group’s Leadership Committee, presented the Switzer Leadership Award to this year’s honorees. Recipients of this award are selected based on a commitment to the university and leadership at the undergraduate level. This year’s recipients are graduating seniors Emily Angstreich, Arielle Smith, Gabriella Smith, Caitlind Walker, Helen Webley-Brown and Kennedy Young.

Angstreich is majoring in psychological and brain sciences in Arts & Sciences. She is dedicated to advocating for her peers and changing the social stigma around mental health struggles. She worked closely with Uncle Joe’s Peer Counseling and Resource Center, a student group dedicated to peer counseling and advocacy for mental health, and created a Suicide Recognition and Prevention Workshop to help students recognize and help peers who have thoughts of suicide.

Arielle Smith is also majoring in psychological and brain sciences. She has been integral in the development of a chatbot for an eating disorder prevention program funded by the National Eating Disorders Association. She also serves as the event committee chair of Reflections, a holistic service that promotes awareness of eating disorders and encourages healthy body image.

At the university, Smith has worked with Washington University’s Center for Healthy Weight and Wellness and has published research findings. She also serves as the president of Natural Ties, a student group that hosts dinners for adults with cognitive and developmental disabilities.

Gabriella (Gaby) Smith is majoring in biology in Arts & Sciences. She serves as a peer leader of the Biotech Explorers Pathway program in Arts & Sciences. She has served as a speaker and senator on the Student Union Senate, performs clinical research through the Pediatric Emergency Medicine Research Associates Program and has served as an undergraduate student representative to the university’s Board of Trustees.

Smith also volunteers for the Einstein Explorers YMCA program at Children’s Hospital. Read more about Smith on the Department of Biology website.

Walker is double majoring in aerospace engineering, at the McKelvey School of Engineering, and in French, in Arts & Sciences. She is the founder, president and program manager of WU Rocketry, a student group that participates in the NASA Student Launch. She also has served as president of the Society of Women Engineers and as programming and event chair for the Engineering Student Council. She has held summer internships with Boeing and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, managed by the California Institute of Technology. Read more about Walker on the McKelvey School of Engineering website.

Webley-Brown is majoring in political science in Arts & Sciences. She has been a Danforth Scholar and a Ralph Bunche Scholar. She is a member of Pi Sigma Alpha, a national political science honor society. She also has participated in initiatives including The Bail Project, a nonprofit organization that works to prevent incarceration and combat disparities in the bail system, and the Surveillance Technology Oversight Project, a nonprofit and legal services provider that fights to end discriminatory surveillance.

Young is majoring in sociology and in African and African American studies in Arts & Sciences. She received the Ethic of Service Award from the Gephardt Institute for Civic and Community Engagement. She was a Rhodes Scholar finalist in 2021. Other achievements include mentoring low-income high school students in the Strive for College program, serving on the executive board of the Association of Black Students at Washington University, advising ex-offenders about technology literacy and serving as president of the College of Arts & Sciences Council. She co-founded both the St. Louis Reentry Collective and Interrogating Incarceration.

The Danforth Scholarship recipients are Orquidea Campbell-Espinoza and Curtis Willi.

Luz Rooney, chair of the society’s scholarship committee, and Barbara Swalina, vice chair of the society’s scholarship committee, presented the Elizabeth Gray Danforth Scholarships. The competitive full-tuition scholarship is awarded to impressive community-college transfer students. This year’s recipients are Orquidea Campbell-Espinoza and Curtis Willi, both students at St. Louis Community College’s Meramec campus.

Orquidea, an artist, participated in New Art in the Neighborhood from 2016-2020, a nationally acclaimed studio art program that provides art instruction at the Contemporary Art Museum of St. Louis. In 2018, she was invited to represent the program at a teen conference hosted by the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston. Orquidea is a member of the Phi Theta Kappa honor society. She will pursue a bachelor’s in communication design with an emphasis in illustration at the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts.

Willi is also a member of the Phi Theta Kappa honor society. He currently serves as the student representative for Pathways to Success, a program at the community college that aims to improve higher education success rates. He is also an advisory council member of the President’s Student Advisory Council on campus. He plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree in finance with a focus on portfolio management at Olin Business School.

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