First-ever Women in LeadHERship Awards honor women in Roanoke College community

During the inaugural Women in LeadHERship Awards ceremony Wednesday, eight members of the Roanoke College community were honored for their contributions to Roanoke College.

The award ceremony is intended to recognize leadership and to encourage, inspire and uplift the women in the Maroons community. The Office of Multicultural Affairs, the Roanoke International Office, and Community Programs worked together to establish the awards. They received more than 30 nominations from students, alumni, faculty and staff.

Shelley Olds ’03, who competed for the United States in the 2012 London Olympics, was the keynote speaker. Olds was the captain of the women’s soccer team when she was a student at Roanoke and is a member of the College’s Athletic Hall of Fame.

Olds spoke to a packed room at the Wortmann Ballroom on campus, taking attendees on a crash course – literally – through her cycling career. She detailed all of her falls and struggles di lei, and showed how she got back up every time.

“Dare to dream,” Olds said. “Go out and find the spark that lights the fire in you. There will always be barriers and obstacles to our success, but we are truly in control of our own destiny. “

The awards were named after prominent women from Roanoke College’s past and present. The Susan Highfill ’79 Student LeadHERship Award is named for Highfill, the top scorer in Roanoke women’s basketball history. Highfill participated in the 1980 Olympic Trials after her record-shattering college career before embarking on a career as a counselor and therapist.

Highfill was in attendance Wednesday to present the awards to Renee Alquiza ’22 and Cici Montalvo ’22. Alquiza is a communication studies major and captain of the women’s basketball team. Montalvo is a biology major who has served as president of the honors program, president of Omicron Delta Kappa, and has strived to create an inclusive and diverse environment in these organizations and at the College as a whole.

The Terri P. Maxey Award for Community LeadHERship is named for the College’s current first lady. Maxey has worked in admissions and financial aid at four colleges, including Roanoke, and has been a positive and supportive figure for innumerable students over the years. Maxey, who was in attendance Wednesday to present the award, exemplifies community and makes every student feel welcome.

Lt. April McCadden of Campus Safety, known among the student body as “Miss April,” was the staff recipient of the award. Dr. Lisa Stoneman, associate professor and chairperson of the education department, was the faculty recipient.

Meghan Kelly ’13 was the alumna recipient. Kelly, who mentors current Roanoke students, is a longtime volunteer with New York State Intergenerational Network, teaching classes on citizenship to recent immigrants and in conversational English as a Second Language to adults who want to become more proficient in the English language for both personal and professional use. She currently is a Ph.D. candidate in Industrial Organizational Psychology and is a claims service leader at Allstate Insurance.

The V. Maxine Fitzgerald ’69 Award for Innovative LeadHERship is named for the College’s first Black student. Fitzgerald’s courage and determination di lei have made her a key figure in the College’s history, and though she died in 2021, her legacy di lei remains.

Filmmaker Pamela Pierce ’72, the president and CEO of the nonprofit film studio Silver Bullet Productions, was the alumni recipient. Dr. Andreea Mihalache O’Keef, associate professor and co-coordinator of the peace and justice studies program, was the faculty recipient. Natasha Saunders, director of multicultural affairs, was the staff recipient.

Organizers hope the event will become an annual tradition at the College, to regularly recognize the powerful, influential, compassionate and inspirational women in the Roanoke community.

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