Outstanding women of New Hampshire celebrated

James Niedzinski

Equinox Staff


On Wednesday, March 30, at 7 p.m., students, professors, friends, and family gathered in the Mabel Brown Room of the Student Center to announce four new award recipients at the 21st annual Outstanding Women of New Hampshire Award ceremony.

The new recipients included Jamie Contois, Kristin Mehalik, Norma Walker, and Jean Whitcomb.

Doctor Patricia Pedroza, a women’s studies professor at Keene State College, hosted the event.

Other speakers included Helen Giles-Gee, president of Keene State College, and a letter from Jeanne Shaheen was read congratulating the recipients by Pamela Slack, one of her staff members.

Contois won the State of New Hampshire category.  According to the literature handed out at the event, she is the state director of Working Families Win, and is one of the founders of the Community Food Co-Op in Keene.

“Many of us in the state work very hard to support ourselves, and I am honored to receive this award,” Contois said in her acceptance speech.

Mehalik, a senior, was awarded under the Keene State Student category.  She is a member of the National Education Honor Society and  is currently President of Habitat for Humanity.

“I have never truly stopped to ponder all my accomplishments,” Mehalik said.

Mehalik has also been involved at the Keene Middle School chapter of Girls Inc., a national organization that is “committed to inspiring the leaders of tomorrow,” according to its website.

Walker, winner of the Monadnock Region category, said, “To think that I almost went to UNH to be a sheep farmer!” during her speech.

Walker graduated from Keene Teachers College in 1951, and has been active in relating and connecting alumni.  She is responsible for creating the Golden Circle, a group that celebrates alumni who graduated 50 or more years ago.

Walker grew up in Hancock, N.H., and graduated from Keene Teachers School with a degree in elementary education and participated in a variety of sports, according to her profile on the KSC website.

Whitcomb won the Keene State College Staff award.  Whitcomb has taught at KSC since 1969.

In the pamphlet handed out at the event, Dean of Arts and Humanities Nona Fienberg described Whitcomb, saying, “She treats everyone with respect.  She has the creative imagination to understand musicians, artists, actors, directors, historians, filmmakers, and poets.”

“We have worked hard, laughed much, and grumbled a little,  [KSC] is a community in and of itself,” Whitcomb said.


James Niedzinski can be contacted at jniedzinski@keeneequinox.com

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