The concept of being a reputable woman has evolved over the years.
Not even a century ago in America, some women could be known solely for their pies. Nowadays, women are being acknowledged for positions and attributes once held exclusively by men.
Keene State College is doing just that—acknowledging women. On Tuesday, March 28 the college presented awards to four women at the event known as 2017 President’s Annual Outstanding Women of NH Awards ceremony.
This year the theme was “Honoring Trailblazing Women in Labor and Business.”
This was in conjunction with Women’s History Month, which is designated to the month of March every year. There were four spots of recognition this year.
They included an outstanding KSC faculty or staff member, an outstanding KSC student, an outstanding woman in the Monadnock Region, and an outstanding woman in the State of New Hampshire.
KSC President Anne Huot announced each winner. She said it was a pleasure to be at this event where recognizing amazing women and breaking norms was celebrated. “We’ve come a long way as women,” she said. “However, we still need to promote women and break the glass ceiling.”
Huot said the fact that this event has been running for 27 years says something important about Keene State.
“What I like about this event is that it has a personal touch. There’s a history and personal story for each woman acknowledged here,” she said.
Ellen Moynihan won the title of outstanding KSC faculty or staff member. She started the KSC adjunct faculty union at the college.
2005 recipient of the Outstanding Women awards Roberta Barry came to support Moynihan. “In the 1950s and early 60s, women could only work as teachers, nurses or secretaries, now the whole world is open to them,” she said.
Moynihan recounted how she had a bet going with former Mayor of Keene and Vice President of KSC Robert Mallat about starting a union.
“He said, ‘I know what you’re doing and you’re not going to achieve it,’” Moynihan said,
“So I bet him $50 I would….years later at the Pub, our waitress came over with a crisp $50 bill and I looked around the corner and there he was. My only regret was not betting $500.”
Other women recognized included Co-founder and COO of W.S. Badger Balm Katie Schwerin who won the title of an outstanding woman in the Monadnock Region and Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility and President of Hypertherm HOPE foundation Barbara Couch who won the title of outstanding woman in the State of New Hampshire.
The winner of the outstanding KSC student award was presented to Marisa Hope Benson. The KSC senior said she felt honored by the acknowledgment. ”I feel grateful to the faculty and staff on campus who went out of their way to recognize me,” she said.
Benson admitted feeling a tiny bit embarrassed as well, but said she understood the importance of the event as a whole.
“I think these awards are important to provide a moment of reflection and appreciation for people’s hard work and investments. I know I’ve truly just done what I love and to see its impact has been amazing.”
Benson sports a half shaved haircut, which she said gives people an insight to her personality without knowing her.
“I have always felt like a unique person and I think I come across very sweet and normal,” she said. “I think I just wanted to better represent my diverse beliefs and opinions.”
Benson said she tries to use that diversity in her actions. “I have learned that community is everything. The work I’ve done up to this point has reinforced the importance of connection. I’ve realized that if I put my energy into relationships it will change me and the people around me,” she said.
During her acceptance speech, Benson spoke of her gratitude and honor in accepting the award, bringing up that this event was beyond her.
“I believe a world where people do what they love is a wonderful thing,” she said. “It’s not frivolous, it’s fabulous.”
Dorothy England can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org