University of Southern Indiana

2010 Phenomenal Women of USI and the community honored

2010 Phenomenal Women of USI and the community honored

3/19/2010 | University Communications
Eight women were honored on March 18 at the 2010 Phenomenal Women of USI and Community Recognition Ceremony, sponsored by University of Southern Indiana's Multicultural Center, the American Association of University Women, and Old National Bank.

Held during Women's History Month, the program honors and celebrates women from all walks of life who have made contributions to diversity in the University and greater Evansville communities. Through annual recognition of their contributions, the program aims to inspire others to embrace and promote diversity within their own lives.

Phenomenal Women are recognized in the following categories: USI undergraduate student, USI graduate student, USI faculty, USI administrative staff, and community-at-large.

The 2010 Phenomenal Women:

Melissa Chavez is a USI sophomore pursuing a double major in Spanish and public relations. Chavez is the founder and president of Latinos Unidos (Hispanic Student Union), a mentor in the EXCEL mentoring program, a member of the Executive Diversity Scholars, a member of Habitat for Humanity, and a resident assistant. Chavez also volunteers with HOLA (Hospitality and Outreach for Latin Americans) in the Evansville community. She is a volunteer for Welcome Week, the Cultural Diversity Welcome Reception, and the International Food Expo. A strong student academically and socially, Chavez is a lead mentor in the EXCEL mentoring program.

Tracy Huck is a USI graduate student working on a master's degree in social work. She graduated from USI with a Bachelor of Social Work degree in 2001 and has been working as a case manager and supervisor at the AIDS Resource Group for 10 years. Huck ensures the highest quality of services to all AIDS Resource Group clients and volunteers. She also organizes a holiday gift drive for clients. Huck was recently recognized by the Indiana State Department of Health with the "Integrity Award" for her service to clients living with HIV/AIDS.

Pam S. Buschkill has been the coordinator of the USI Children's Learning Center for 17 years. Buschkill has made an impact on USI and community families, children, and her staff by ensuring that students at the Children's Learning Center learn and grow in a safe, diverse environment. At the Center, there is an emphasis on inclusion and the celebration of differences. Buschkill includes males as student workers and teachers in order to introduce children to positive male role models, and she has invited mentally and physically disabled helpers into the classrooms so the children can learn to be accepting of the disabled. Buschkill plans to retire in December.

The dean of the USI's Bower Suhrheinrich College of Education and Human Services since 2008, Dr. Julie H. Edmister inspires, guides, and supports faculty and students in social work, physical education, and teacher education. Edmister served as a board member of the USI-sponsored "Evansville's Celebration of Diversity Distinguished Lecture Series" and was instrumental in creating the Center for Social Justice, housed in the Department of Social Work at USI.

Joann Schwentker is an active volunteer in the Evansville community who has worked to empower women and eliminate racism. As president of the Junior League of Evansville in the 1960s and an active YWCA volunteer, Schwentker convened the first meeting of whites and blacks to have a dialogue on civil issues and equality in the community. At the beginning of school integration, she recruited volunteers to ride school buses with children to ensure that the newly integrated rides to school were without incident. She also started the YWCA program Live Y'ers. Schwentker attended Stephens College and graduated from Indiana University.

LaToya Smith is the coordinator of Diversity Initiatives for the University of Evansville. She is also the advisor for the Hispanic Heritage Association and Black Student Union, and she guides the Multicultural Student Assocation and the College Mentors for Kids program at UE. For four years she has volunteered as a Sunday School teacher at the Potter's Wheel. Smith recently organized a Martin Luther King, Jr. essay contest for local high school students.

Earsie H. Kelley devotes herself to the Evansville community in a number of ways. A retired educator who taught in the Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation for over 30 years, she reaches out to at-risk children through tutoring and mentoring. Last summer Kelley directed the soup kitchen at First Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church and recruited middle and high school students to help. She also chairs the event Breakfast with Santa, hosted by Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority and the local chapter Zeta Zeta Omega and is a March of Dimes volunteer. Kelley is the educational coordinator of the Southern District Assocation's Three Big Sisters, an organization that provides resource information and educational workshops to people in nursing homes.

Amanda Duvall is an adoption coordinator for Families Through International Adoption. Duvall was born in Korea and adopted by an American family as an infant. Drawing from her own experiences, she works to challenge the traditional assumptions of what a family should look like and shares her belief that love is more important in a family than having similar physical characteristics.

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