From its earliest days, Shenandoah University, established in 1875, has been a place that has valued the contributions of women, who both taught at and attended the school at a time when coeducation in higher education wasn’t the norm.
Today, almost 150 years later, the women of Shenandoah continue to make a difference, rising to any challenge before them, and embodying the 2022 Women’s History Month theme: “Providing Healing, Promoting Hope.”
During the first two weeks of March, which is Women’s History Month, the university called for nominations for the SUperwomen of Shenandoah University, and all those who identify as women who were nominated have received a special card featuring quotes about their nominations.
The selected quotes below reflect this year’s theme of healing and hope:
“Holli is one of my favorite people to be around. She always makes me laugh and I appreciate her dedication to student success. Holli is a huge advocate for our students and I know that they appreciate her more than she may know.” — Nomination for Holli Phillips
“Dr. Risoldi Cochrane has created such an amazing environment in the pharmacy school for students. Since her hiring during my P1 year, she has implemented many initiatives that create a space where students feel that they can bring their concerns forward and create change within the pharmacy school…. She constantly checks in with students when she sees them to see how they are doing and is a great sounding board when we are all stressed about classes and school-work-life balance. Our pharmacy school experience would not be the same without her and I am so glad that she decided to come home to Shenandoah and impact so many pharmacy students because she has definitely had such a positive impact on my life.” – Nomination for Zara Risoldi Cochrane
“Throughout our entire MSOT program, Dr. Sikes not only shared her passion for occupational therapy with all of her students, but she empowered us all to be the best future OTs we can be. She is a fierce leader and a fantastic role model for her students.” – Nomination for Elizabeth Morghen Sikes
“She is a strong woman. So strong. She is a musical theatre major and dance minor involved in student groups such as SUIS (Shut Up It’s Shakespeare), The Loaf comedy troupe, Hornets’ Nest, SUReal, Hypnos, the APO fraternity, and many more. She has also been a part of many main-stage performances, such as “A Chorus Line,” “Bright Star”, and “Dracula.” Not only this, but she is kind to everyone she meets and always puts smiles on faces. She truly goes out of her way to make the world a better place. My girlfriend Nicole injured her back last year, and Isabella stayed up day and night to help her. Because of Isabella, she made a full recovery. She truly is a SUperwoman.” – Nomination for Isabella Morrison
“My pharmacy school experience would not be the same without Vivian. Not only is she someone who supports me and encourages me to be the best version of myself, but she gives her all in her friendships and makes sure everyone feels heard and valued. I cannot imagine going through such a pivotal part of my life and future pharmacy career with anyone else.” – Nomination for Vivian Lam
“Leah is one of our regular work studies, and she has done absolutely wonderful work strengthening the Jewish community on our campus. I’m constantly amazed at how she balances her intense course load with building up a community, and I’m grateful that she’s here.” – Nomination for Leah Trost
“Tracy spearheaded the COVID-19 response effort. The impact on this community in lives saved cannot be calculated. She worked tirelessly, along with Valley Health and the Lord Fairfax Health District, to create the incredibly successful vaccination clinics. If that was not enough, she kept SU faculty and staff employed when many higher education institutions were laying off employees. Her student and community outreach and transparency as she navigated this pandemic are an inspiring example of leadership. Simultaneously, with an open mind and heart, she has reached out to the diverse SU community to build communication bridges that will benefit and broaden friendships and understanding. Tracy is an exemplary ‘Superwoman’ and very deserving of this recognition.” – Nomination for Tracy Fitzsimmons
“Sarah’s work on this campus is absolutely invaluable towards creating a campus climate where students can thrive without fear of violence or harassment. She is one of the strongest leaders I know of on this campus. Few can rally and coordinate so many student workers and leaders as effectively and efficiently as Sarah, and I stand in awe of her devotion and passion to form her staff into the justice-minded leaders that they are called to be. Throw in her gifts and graces for facilitation and event production and she’s a real force to be reckoned with – I know that if I find myself in a mess, Sarah’s my one phone call.” – Nomination for Sarah Celec
“Dr. Simon worked diligently, day and through many late nights during the COVID pandemic to make sure ALL of the Family Nurse Practitioner students had clinical placements during COVID. Due to her outstanding efforts, when we lost clinical site after clinical site, ALL of our students were able to graduate on time! Few universities can say this about their programs. This was no easy feat, and she also was teaching a full load, mentoring new faculty, acting as the Virginia Council of Nurse Practitioners (VCNP) president and chair of various nursing school committees. She was also asked to testify to the senate on the importance of NP practice and the need for HB1245, the house bill supporting NP practice. She was on television as well as multiple social media forums representing not only NPs, but SU as well!” – Nomination for Sharon Simon
“Dr. Baxter has not only completely changed the way I view society and the impact I want to have on my community but she has also completely changed my boring everyday life. Before Dr. Baxter I felt very alone, unmotivated, and like I had no purpose. Now I wake up every day knowing I get to have meaningful conversations and she has genuinely given me a reason to wake up and do something with my life. She is the most inspirational human I have ever met and I hope she knows the impact she has on her students. I’m a better person because of her and I can’t thank her enough for not only being an amazing mentor but also a safe space for me these past two semesters!” – Nomination for Dana Baxter
These women reflect what Shenandoah is – a place of caring and compassion; a place where, when new challenges arise, creative solutions are found; and a place where learners know they are within a safe environment designed to encourage their growth and success.
But, they are not alone. Instead, they are representative of an impressive lineage. To every woman who has contributed to Shenandoah – student, staff member, faculty – we thank you.
The nominees, who are students, faculty and staff, are:
Jen Spataro Wilson