Winners of the Women of Distinction Award are Announced

Apr 15, 2021
group of women celebrating

By: Angelique Doty
The Women of Distinction (WoD) Awards recognizes women from the Pacific
community who have made significant contributions to uplift and empower others, promote
gender and racial equity, and inspire future generations of women leaders. Beginning in Spring
2002 as a component of Student Life’s Women’s Leadership Conference, the event includes an
inspiring keynote speaker and honors awardees in the following categories: Undergraduate
Student; Graduate Student; Staff Member; Faculty Member; and Alumni and/or Community
Member (Stockton/San Joaquin).
The 2020 and 2021 recipients celebrated this year are: Dr. Teresa Bergman, Alicia Perry,
Rida Fatima, Yuki Nagase, Mary Aguirre, Randi Holguin, Dr. Jennifer Helgren, Dr. Sacha
Joseph-Mathews, Dr. Elizabeth Trayner, and Woman of Distinction Icon Award: Dr. Judy
Chambers (former VP for Student Life).
The planning committee transitioned the event to the virtual format to maintain some
aspects of what made the in-person event so special.
This year’s event took place via Zoom Webinar, co-hosted by Dr. Colleen Smith,
Associate Director for Intercultural Student Success, and student leader, Sahila Shah. Each
awardee will receive a glass award to display as a symbol of the large impact they have had on
Dr. Smith talks about the importance of the awards: “The Women of Distinction Awards
is an impactful tradition that honors the work and legacy of the awardees and empowers
attendees to strive towards gender equity. WoD engages and inspires Pacificans of all genders, as
well as the broader Stockton community.”
Nominations are submitted by Pacific members and awardees are selected by a
committee primarily comprised of past award recipients. Smith expresses her optimism regarding
the ceremony’s outcomes.
“It is my hope that awardees feel seen and heard, and see this award as a recognition of
their accomplishments and contributions, and a nudge to ‘keep on keepin’ on.’” According to
Smith, the event exists, in large part, as a response to the historical inequities that women, and
other marginalized genders, have experienced and continue to experience. It is an opportunity to
shine light on the hard work and efforts of those working to overcome those inequities, whilst
navigating the waters of the very “-isms” they are working to overcome. It is an opportunity to
honor these women leaders, learn from them, and be inspired by them.