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Student, professor receive women’s leadership award

By , Reporter  |  Friday, March 28, 2014 10:00 AM

The St. Thomas University Advocates for Women and Equity presented this year’s Sister Pat Kowalski Women’s Leadership award to senior Melissa Seymour and English professor Brenda Powell.

The group’s chair, Susan Myers, said Seymour and Powell’s achievements fall under the strict criteria of the Kowalski award.

“The first is a clarity of vision through insights into the needs and aspirations of the women at the University of St. Thomas,” Myers said. “The second is a courage of convictions through an ability to speak and act, and the third is a generosity of spirit through leadership by example which encourages others to see work on behalf of women as a source of joy and light.”

University Advocates for Women and Equity chair Susan Myers keeps a copy of Melissa Seymour's "Female Force" on display in her office. Seymour, along with English Professor Brenda Powell, received the group's Pat Kowalski Women's Leadership Award this month. (Rebecca Mariscal/TommieMedia)

University Advocates for Women and Equity chair Susan Myers keeps a copy of Melissa Seymour’s “Female Force” on display in her office. Seymour, along with English Professor Brenda Powell, received the group’s Pat Kowalski Women’s Leadership Award this month. (Rebecca Mariscal/TommieMedia)

Seymour received three separate nominations, all focusing on her involvement in the feminist community at St. Thomas and her female-focused writing.

“She puts a lot of her creativity into her written work that is trying to empower girls and women,” Myers said.

Powell was nominated by one of her students for her work with the Luann Dummer Center for Women and the Women’s Studies Advisory Committee, as well as her mentorship and dedication to Tommie women, according to Myers.

Both Seymour and Powell said they were honored not only by the award but for recognition alongside each other. Seymour said she greatly admires Powell.

“She is such an incredible lecturer, and she’s brilliant, so receiving an award with her is a huge honor,” Seymour said.

Seymour has written three comic books about the contributions of female leaders Barbra Streisand, Melinda Gates and Gloria Steinem. She is currently working on a children’s picture book on women’s right activist Edna Adan about Somaliland, an autonomous region of Somalia.

Powell said she is impressed by Seymour’s work and impact on women.

“I am particularly glad to be honored with Melissa Seymour, whose biographies of American women will, I know, inspire girls and young women for many years to come,” Powell said.

Seymour said she writes the books as a way to encourage girls and women.

“All of the books that I write have some sort of theme of girls’ empowerment,” Seymour said.

Seymour attributed her success to the women’s studies department and the Luann Dummer Center for Women.

“I wouldn’t be where I am or have the success that I’ve had without them,” she said.

Seymour said the award will inspire her to keep moving forward.

“I can’t stop writing,” she said. “I want to create the best, most realistic, complex, strong, awesome girl characters.”

Myers said the Kowalski award was created as a way to empower strong women such as Seymour and Powell and their work.

“We celebrate these things to recognize women’s accomplishments and how women have worked to embolden one another,” Myers said. “I think the more that we draw attention to women doing such things, the more we’ll achieve.”

Rebecca Mariscal can be reached at mari2162@stthomas.edu.

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