Phenomenal Women Awards
The Phenomenal Women Award was discontinued in 2023. Historically, the Phenomenal Women Awards recognized individuals for their accomplishments and contributions to our community through their scholarship, activism, and commitment to excellence.
Past Phenomenal Women Award Recipients
Phenomenal Women Award Recipients of 2023
Iris Okere, Student
Iris Okere is a junior who is majoring in marketing and minoring in Spanish, hailing from Dallas, Texas. On campus, Iris is an active member and leader in several organizations that contribute to the university's culture and community. Iris is the Diversity, Empowerment, and Inclusion chair for the Student Government Association, where she works tirelessly with her committee to promote inclusivity and representation on campus. As the vice president of the Epsilon Alpha Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, Iris is committed to fostering sisterhood, scholarship, and service. Additionally, as the vice president of community relations for the National Pan-Hellenic Council, Iris works to strengthen relationships between the NPHC and the other Greek councils on Wichita State campus. Iris also serves as a resident assistant for Housing and Residence Life, where she provides support and guidance to students living on campus. Through her roles at Wichita State, Iris has demonstrated her passion for advocacy, community engagement, and leadership. Iris's dedication and commitment to making a positive impact on campus are truly admirable. She believes that every person has a voice and that there are endless opportunities to create change. Iris is currently running for Student Body President. "I am honored to nominate Iris Okere for recognition and applaud her for all that she has achieved and continues to accomplish at Wichita State University," one said. She is committed to serving her fellow students and bringing about positive change on campus.
Dr. Suzanne Hawley, Professor, Department of Public Health Sciences
Suzanne R. Hawley, PhD, MPH, LP is a public health academician and licensed clinical psychologist. She is professor in the Department of Public Health Sciences (PHS) at Wichita State University and served as PHS department chair from 2011-2015. Previously, she served as faculty and MPH site director at University of Kansas School of Medicine-Wichita, Department of Preventive Medicine and Public Health, as well as co-director of the Kansas Public Health Leadership Institute (KPHLI) for 10 years. She is very inspired by the natural growth capacity and power of individuals and communities. She has coaching certifications from both the International Coach Federation (ICF) and the Kansas Leadership Center (KLC). She completed her Bachelor's and Master's in psychology from California State University, San Bernardino. She also completed a Master of Public Health (MPH) degree with a concentration in biostatistics, and a PhD in clinical psychology, both at Loma Linda University in California. She has worked as a clinician and researcher in various multidisciplinary settings over the past two decades. This includes educational, community mental health, psychiatric hospital, and prison settings. Dr. Hawley's work has focused on leadership development/training, health disparities, and mental health. She has worked with and served as a co-investigator for HRSA Public Health Training Centers for 20 years. She is a graduate of the National Public Health Leadership Institute and the past Chair for the National Public Health Leadership Development Network. Over her career, her scholarship has been supported by over 42 grants and contracts totaling over $17,000,000.00 and in 20 of these projects, Dr. Hawley served as PI/Co-PI. She has published over 48 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters and given over 225 presentations on her scholarly work locally and internationally. Over the past 29 years, she has taught over 200 courses. In 2011, she received the Kansas Public Health Association’s highest award, the Samuel J. Crumbine medal, for her contributions to public health workforce and leadership development. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family, two boys, dog, and doing something creative.
Ana Lazarin, Director of Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion, College of Engineering
Ana Lazarin is the director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the College of Engineering at Wichita State University. She directs the college's initiatives to broaden the diversity among the engineering student body and bridge the equity gap. Ana is the engineering liaison for the President's Diversity Council and serves as an advisor for the collegiate chapters of SHPE: Leading Hispanics in STEM, Society of Women Engineers (SWE), National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), and American Indian Science & Engineering Society (AISES). In 2013, Ana Lazarin was the recipient of the inaugural Global Engineering Dean's Council (GEDC) Airbus Diversity Award for her work to broaden participation in engineering education. Ana is passionate about empowering young students to pursue higher education, especially in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) fields. As an undocumented Mexican immigrant from low-economical background, she became the first person in her family to graduate from high school and to go to college completing a Bachelor of Science in industrial engineering and a Master of Education, both from Wichita State University.
Phenomenal Women Award Recipients of 2022
Kaelyn Hannah, Student
Kaelyn Hannah is a junior majoring in media arts with a concentration in filmmaking and a minor in communications. On campus, she served as the vice president of marketing and is the current president of Student Ambassador Society. She is also a team lead for Shocker Navigators and is a second year transition mentor for the College of Fine Arts. She works as an intern in the Office of Admissions and First Year Programs using her experience to help students navigate their way through the college search process all the way through their first year in college.
Kaelyn was born and raised in Wichita, Kansas and falls more in love with the city each day. She is passionate about highlighting the local talent in her community as well as sharing stories that often get left untold. Currently, she is working on a documentary entitled “Imposter” which shares stories of various leaders at Wichita State who struggle with imposter syndrome in hopes to share with others that they are not alone and build a community from it. Upon graduation, Kaelyn intends to expand her production company, Khaos Productions, with a goal to create a platform for women in the film industry.
Carryl Baldwin, Carl and Rozina Cassat Distinguished Professor of Aging & Regional Institute on Aging Director, Department of Psychology
No biography present.
Dr. Marci Young, Director of Prevention Services, Counseling & Prevention Services
Dr. Marci Young came to Wichita State University in 2018 as an outreach coordinator for Counseling and Testing Services. She currently serves and the director of Prevention and Outreach in Counseling and Prevention Services. Dr. Young earned her Bachelor's degrees in Psychology and Anthropology from the University of Utah and her Masters and Doctorate degrees in Clinical Psychology from The Wright Institute, Berkeley. She engages passionately in the pursuit of creating and increasing communities of support for mental wellness. In addition to her clinical work, this includes creating programming for mental wellness promotion, sexual violence prevention, suicide prevention, and substance abuse prevention. During her time at WSU she has created connections at WSU, as well as local and regional connections to allow increased knowledge and resources for individuals in Kansas. She oversees the Suspenders4Hope program which has been responsible for training over 3,500 individuals in suicide prevention, and serves as a symbol for mental health awareness in Sedgwick county. Dr. Young has responsible for bringing over $650,000 through grants and partnerships into the university to fund positions and resources for prevention programming, created a prevention peer education program, and created and oversees many applied learning opportunities.
Phenomenal Women Award Recipients of 2021
Saniya Ahmed, Student
Saniya Ahmed is graduating in May with degrees in Health Science with minors in Chemistry and Biology, and Honors Baccalaureate with concentrations in Spanish, Psychology and Health Administration. She is the Founding Mother of Mu Delta Alpha Sorority Inc., Delta Chapter and has been a four-year member of Ambassadors for Diversity and Inclusion. Saniya is a fierce and passionate advocate. She hopes to become a primary care physician and empower, serve, amplify and uplift vulnerable communities.
Gergana Markova, Professor, Barton Fellow & Director of Faculty Advancement, Department of Management
Dr. Gery Markova is a Professor of Human Resource Management (HRM) in the Department of Management within the W. Frank Barton School of Business at Wichita State University. She facilitated the creation of the Master of HRM and continues to lead the program to its amazing current success. She serves on the President's Diversity Council, First Generation Coordinating Council, and leads the Diversity and Inclusive Excellence committee in the Barton School of Business. As Director of Faculty Advancement, she has created teaching and developmental initiatives to support faculty in all stages of their careers. Her research is in professional development, employee well-being, HRM practices, and diversity.
Patricia Houston, Prevention and Promotion Specialist, Community Engagement Institute
Patricia Houston is the Prevention and Promotion Specialist for the Community Engagement Institute Prevention Initiative. She holds a Bachelor's Degree in Business from Wichita State University and a MBA from Baker University. At Wichita State University, she works to engage communities around the prevention work by providing them support and resources for positive messaging and impactful promotion to elevate their prevention efforts. She is striving to promote equity in her workplace and the community she serves.
Dr. Kerry Wilks, Associate Dean & Full Professor, Graduate School Dean's Office
Dr. Kerry Wilks joined Wichita State University as a Spanish professor in 2004 and currently serves as Associate Dean of the Graduate School. She is passionate about helping graduate students, including mentoring females in the issues that arise for women in the profession. She pays special attention to female faculty serving as graduate coordinators to ensure they advocate for themselves appropriately. In her spare time, she serves as the Chair of Equality Kansas, whose work has recently focused on equality for transwomen.
Phenomenal Women Award Recipients of 2020
Rhonda Hicks, Director, Upward Bound Wichita Prep
"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter" by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Rhonda Hicks is a TRIO Talent Search and Student Support Services alumni. She also serves as the director for Upward Bound Wichita Prep. On a daily basis Rhonda is grateful to equip and empower first-generation students how to navigate the education system. The quote by Dr. King serves as daily inspiration for Rhonda. Rhonda is a mother of two and enjoys reading.
Heba Madi, Outreach Communication Coordinator, Office of Undergraduate Admissions
Heba Madi currently serves as the outreach communication coordinator in the Office of Undergraduate Admissions, is working on completing her master's degree in Educational Psychology with an emphasis in Higher Education/Student Affairs and co-advises Phenomenal Women, a support group for underrepresented women on campus. This year, she attended Stanford University's First Gen and/or Low-Income Conference and led four sessions at the 2020 Student Ambassador Society Leadership Conference. During her undergraduate years, she studied strategic communication and was a proud member of a multitude of groups including Gamma Phi Beta, Muslim Student Association, Student Ambassador Society, Student Government Association and more.
Maribel Sánchez, Student
Maribel Sánchez is a junior, majoring in Honors Baccalaureate with concentrations in management, communication and leadership. Born and raised in Dodge City, Kansas with roots from Mexico, Maribel prides herself in being the first in her family to attend college. She is currently the president of the Chi Colony of Lambda Pi Upsilon Sorority, at-large senator for the 62nd session of Student Government Association, and has been in Student Ambassador Society since her freshman year. She works at the Office of Diversity and Inclusion and also gives campus tours as a Shocker Navigator. Most recently, she has been campaigning to become student body president, a recognition that if awarded would make her the first Latina in SGA history.
Phenomenal Women Award Recipients of 2019
Rocío del Águila-Carreno, Instructor, Modern & Classical Languages and Literature
Rocío "Chío" del Águila-Carreno is an instructor in the Modern & Classical Languages & Literature department teaching Spanish, culture and literature. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Texas-Austin. Her research interests are the 19th Century, postcoloniality, gender issues and food studies. She has also worked on community-based media projects. She is the Spanish Master Degree graduate coordinator, the advisor of the Spanish Honors Society, Lambda Pi Upsilon Latina Poderosas Unidas, Inc. and Hispanic American Leadership Organization. She believes in justice, love, education, and cooking as a restorative practice and is a proud Hispanic immigrant. Her favorite word is "mami" and she does her best to make the world better for all.
Dr. Karen Countryman-Roswurm, Associate Professor, School of Social Work & Executive Director, Center for Combating Human Trafficking
Dr. Karen Countryman-Roswurm is the founder and executive director of the Center for Combating Human Trafficking (CCHT) as well as an associate professor in the School of Social Work at Wichita State University. Grounded in her own life experiences of overcoming streets and systems (e.g. child welfare/foster care, criminal/legal judicial systems, etc.), Dr. Roswurm has more than two decades of personal, professional practice, and community-based research expertise in the anti-trafficking movement. Operating from various first-hand vantage points, she has served individuals facing multiple forms of "ism's," as well as poverty, neglect, abuse, homelessness, relationship violence, and exploitation, both domestically and internationally.
Amena Elamin, Student
Amena Elamin is a senior at Wichita State University pursuing her B.A. in Psychology. She thinks often about the concept of home, which has motivated her to honor the stories and nuances of identity through her artwork and public speaking. She also believes in giving back to the community that raised her and does so by working with organizations like Girls on the Run, the Boys and Girls Club of South Central Kansas and the Islamic Society of Wichita. On campus, she's held leadership positions as the Vice President and President of Muslim Student Association. She now serves as the Youth Development Coordinator through AmeriCorps at the International Rescue Committee of Wichita. She hopes to continue her work in youth services and advocacy at a local, national and international level.
Phenomenal Women Award Recipients of 2018
Ricki Ellison, Diversity Recruitment Manager, Office of Undergraduate Admissions
Ricki Ellison is the Diversity Recruitment Manager for the Office of Undergraduate Admissions, overseeing Wichita State's interaction with thousands of local Wichita students and serving as the key facilitator for recruitment strategies of students from diverse backgrounds. She also manages – from the selection to training to deployment – the work of our diversity recruitment interns, current WSU students who are working with local schools to foster a college-going message and share success strategies. A bright, motivated and energetic personality allow her to follow her passion in higher education. Ricki's passion is access through higher education.
Sandra Peer, Senior Educator, Mathematics & Statistics
Sandra Peer's greatest joy in teaching is when students realize the power of understanding concepts versus memorizing procedures. She helps students analyze their work and determine whether errors are due to misconceptions or mistakes. "Yet" is a word heard frequently in her classes; students know they can say, "I don't understand," but they need to add the word "yet" in order to provide the growth mindset they need to persevere. Because she believes that each student shines in their own way, she dismisses most classes with the admonition to "Go and Be Brilliant!"
Kavya Natesan, Student
Kavya Natesan is currently a senior pursuing a degree in Biology with a Biomedical concentration and pre-medical emphasis while minoring in Chemistry and Philosophy. She is an aspiring physician hoping to practice intersectional medicine, incorporating community advancement and advocacy to better the standards of healthcare in our communities.
Throughout her collegiate career, Kavya has been invested in social advocacy, cultivating her leadership, and serving the student body to advance Shocker Nation. She has been involved with Student Government Association, Student Ambassador Society, the Pre-medical Student Association, served as Miss Black and Gold for the Delta Mu Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Incorporated, and currently serves as President of the Ambassadors for Diversity and Inclusion.
She additionally had the opportunity to serve as the Wichita State representative for the national Up to Us movement to increase awareness of our national fiscal policy on campus. In our community, Kavya enjoys volunteering for the JayDoc Community Clinic, Via Christi Hospitals, and the Wichita Cultural Association of India amongst other organizations. Kavya hopes to spend the remainder of her time giving back to the campus community prior to her graduation.
Phenomenal Women Award Recipients of 2017
Christine Schneikart-Luebbe, Associate Vice President of Student Engagement & Dean of Students
Dr. Johnnie Thompson, Professor, College of Education
Risa Rehmert, Director of Program Development, Center for Combating Human Trafficking
Misha Nazir, Student
Phenomenal Women Award Recipients of 2016
Dr. Moriah Beck, Associate Professor of Chemistry, Fairmount College of Liberal Arts & Sciences
Taylor Thomas, Student
Maria Martino, Assistant to the Department Chairperson, Fairmount College of Liberal Arts & Sciences
Phenomenal Women Award Recipients of 2015
LaWanda Holt-Fields, Director, McNair Scholars Program
Dr. Shirley Lefever-Davis, Dean & Professor, College of Education
Sein Lengeju, Student
Phenomenal Women Award Recipients of 2014
Dr. Mara Alagic, Associate Professor, Curriculum & Instruction
Crystal Davis, Student
Martha Lewis, Director, TRIO Disability Support Services
Phenomenal Women Award Recipients of 2013
- Frankie Brown
- Jean Patterson
- Janita Reed
Phenomenal Women Award Recipients of 2012
- Barbara Chaparro
- Deltha Colvin
- Gina Gouchenour
Phenomenal Women Award Recipients of 2011
- Andra Bannister
- Kaye Monk-Morgan
Phenomenal Women Award Recipients of 2010
- Dr. Marché Fleming-Randle
- Stephanie Haynes
Phenomenal Women Award Recipients of 2009
- Dr. Chinyere Okafor
- Hercilia Thompson