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MSU to hold reception for ‘Outstanding Women’

April 1, 2012


Mississippi State University’s President’s Commission on the Status of Women will recognize the six 2012 winners tomorrow during a reception at Memorial Hall’s Coskrey Auditorium. The event takes place from 3-5 p.m. and is open to the public.

According to a MSU release, the PCSW was established in the late 1970s by MSU President James D. McComas and advises the institution’s chief executive on issues affecting the status and role of campus women. Since the beginning, its awards have recognized advocates for the well-being, development and advancement of women on MSU campuses and surrounding communities.

This year’s honorees include Leslie M. Burger, Kendra L. Carr, Teresa D. Gammill, Palara C. Grant, Amanda H. Thornton and Keisha A. Walters.

Burger is a wildlife, fisheries and aquaculture associate with the MSU Extension Service. Burger is being awarded Outstanding Professional Non-Faculty Woman.

Carr is being awarded Outstanding Graduate Woman. A 2010 MSU computer science graduate, she now is pursuing a master’s degree in the major. Carr is from Meridian.

Gammill is receiving the award for Outstanding Executive/Administrative/Managerial Woman. She is assistant vice president for research.

Grant is begin honored as Outstanding Undergraduate Woman. She is a senior mechanical engineering major from Clinton.

Thornton, a resident of Starkville, is being named Outstanding Community Woman. She has served as the Christian Women’s Job Corps director since 2009 and is also a lecturer in the MSU psychology department.

Walters is begin recognized as Outstanding Faculty Woman. She is an associate professor of chemical engineering.

Also during the ceremony, seniors Sarah K. McCain of Aberdeen and Alexandra E. “Alex” Ruhl of Gulfport will be honored with PCSW Student Leadership Awards. McCain is an English major and President’s List Scholar; Ruhl, a microbiology major and Dean’s List Scholar.

Debbie Dunaway, administrative assistant in the office of the president, said these awards recognize women who advocate values mirroring the mission of the PCSW.

Walters said she is very pleased and honored to have been nominated and selected for a PCSW award.

“I’d like to thank the students, staff and faculty that I have worked with and who have supported my efforts over the years,” Walters said. “It is only by working with a terrific set people here at MSU that I have been able to complete the tasks I’ve undertaken.”

Burger said she was very surprised to be chosen for the award, especially considering the achievements of others who have received this award in 2012 and in the past.

“As a wildlife biologist –– a traditionally male-dominated profession –– I remember wishing there were other women to whom I could seek out for advice and encouragement,” Burger said.  

Burger said she is grateful to her colleague, Jessica Tegt, for thinking enough of her to submit her name for consideration and to the women who have been her collaborators in various projects. 

Gammill said she is honored and thankful for this recognition.

“I appreciate the PCSW for providing an opportunity for my female colleagues to be recognized for their hard work and the support that they provide on a daily basis to the university,” Gammill said.

Gammill said she wishes to thank her boss, David Shaw and her colleague, Ray Vaughn, for nominating her.

“I also thank my teammates in the Office of Research and Economic Development (ORED) for always encouraging and supporting me in my administrative role,” Gammill said. “Our teammate approach and dedication to our mission is what makes us all winners.”

Thornton said she was overwhelmed when she learned she was a recipient.

“I am honored by this recognition and would truly like to give all honor and glory to God,” Thornton said. “I am simply a nobody from nowhere who loves the Lord and am motivated to further His kingdom by creating a place for all people, regardless of their situation or background, to come and experience and grow in his love.”

Thornton said she would also like to thank the founding members who have prayed, supported and planned for the ministry of CWJC since its inception: Rev. Dan Robertson of the Golden Triangle Baptist Association, Pat Belcher, Mary Jane Saucier, Rev. Jeff Morgan, Linda Sanders, Donna Gainer, Debbie Burkes, Marion Duncan, Rev. Chip Stevens, Rev. J.D. Shaw, Dewayne Jeffries, Helen McCarty and Sandra Nash, the state CWJC coordinator.

Carr said she feels honored and excited that MSU selected her to receive a PCSW award for outstanding graduate student.

“Receiving this award is the perfect closure to my academic career at MSU and is just the confidence booster I needed to go out into the professional work place,” Carr said.

Carr said she would like to thank her major professor, David Dampier, for nominating her and giving her the opportunity to work on a wonderful project.

“I would also like to thank my parents, Larry and Rhonda Carr, for their continuing love and support,” Carr said.

Grant said she felt honored to have received the award.

“I know that there are many extraordinary undergraduate women on the campus of MSU who do outstanding work with the campus and the community that qualify them to receive such an honor as well, but to be selected from such a talented pool of women is indeed an honor,” Grant said. “It really confirms the saying ‘Someone is always watching you.’ The work I do is not done for recognition, I truly function under the philosophy of servant leadership. “

Grant said it has always been a passion of hers to serve as a mentor to women and to serve as a wholesome example for others to follow.  

“The extraordinary women in my life paved the way for me to become the woman I am today,” Grant said.  

Grant said she would like to thank those who have supported her and her goals throughout her time at MSU.   

“In particular I would like to thank my mentor and NPHC Advisor, Cedric Gathings; my mentor, Angela Verdell; my sorority advisors, Gail Akins and Beatrice Tatem; the members of the Nu Beta Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.; all professors, faculty and staff members who have contributed to my success; the members of the NPHC community; and my mom for believing in my dreams and aspirations.

For additional information on the awards reception, contact Dunaway at 662-325-3221. For more on the PCSW, visit

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