Three Newman women recognized with SHERO awards

Mar 31, 2022

‘Tis the season for awards at Newman University, and the Student Life office presented its 2022 SHERO Awards during Jet Friday over donuts March 25.

The Newman SHERO Awards were created in 2019 to recognize and celebrate women and their contributions to Newman during Women’s History Month.

Nominations for the SHERO awards began in February with voting took place in March. The judges reviewed the applications and nomination criteria including the nominee’s contributions to the Wichita community or Newman University and their actions to challenge adversity, stereotypes or social norms.

And the winners are …

Director of Field Education for Social Work Jennifer Jones earned the title of faculty SHERO. 

Jennifer Jones
Jennifer Jones

Jones was nominated for her inspiring self-confidence, energy, selflessness, integrity, compassion and kindness. She was also lauded for her work to help those who are vulnerable improve their quality of life.

She describes herself as a “do-er who works hard,” but doesn’t feel “extra special by any means.”

“It is so nice to be honored and step back and take in the very thoughtful words from the person that nominated me,” Jones said. “This award means to me that working hard, doing the best work I can and helping others does get noticed. It will help me keep moving forward with pride in the work I do.”

Karen Noel
Karen Noel

The recipient of the staff SHERO award was Karen Noel, administrative assistant for the School of Social Work. Noel was nominated for the kindness she shows to everyone, her willingness to help others, her selflessness and her flexibility.

Senior Selia Avila, a nursing major with a Spanish minor, won the student SHERO award. She was recognized for how she has helped others to find scholarship opportunities.

Avila was “overjoyed” to learn she won the award.

Senior Selia Avila
Senior Selia Avila

“The SHERO award is an affirmation as much as it is a reminder that barriers that have presented themselves or that I have come across were not only meant to be broken by me, but also by others by having a positive-lasting impact on another being because of the barriers in the first place,” Avila said. 

During her time at Newman, Avila has been involved in the Arts & Literature Festival, the nursing student mentor-mentee program and served as student class representative for her nursing class. She was invited to be a Hispanic/Latinx voice for a community event called “La Cadena” and is a member of the Epsilon Gamma at-Large Chapter for Sigma International Honor Society for Nursing.

“To me, perspective is key … the key that unlocks the door to the life we want, regardless of any factor that may oftentimes prevent individuals from getting back up.”

An honor even to be nominated

The other 2022 SHERO nominees were faculty members Teresa Vetter and Lindsey Stillwell; staff members Dyana Baca and Conni Mansaw; and student Hadassah Umbarger.

Baca, library assistant, was nominated for her welcoming, passionate and kind manner and for how much she does to help and support Newman students.

She said she was shocked to learn that she was nominated.

(From left to right) Dyana Baca, Lindsey Stillwell and Yelando Johnson.
(From left to right) Dyana Baca, Lindsey Stillwell and Yelando Johnson.

“I’m just an assistant librarian, I’m just a small part of a big thing,” Baca said tearfully. “It shows that people are paying attention, even to the smallest things.”

Baca added, “​​I’m just so glad students know I’m here for them.”

Stillwell, visiting professor of social work, was nominated because of her advocacy for women’s rights, equitable opportunities and social justice, as well as her leadership skills and her service to the community.

Stillwell was both honored and surprised at being a SHERO nominee.

“To exemplify what it means to be a social worker, especially during social work month is a really big honor,” Stillwell said. “You never know who’s watching, which is why you’ve always got to do the best you can every day.”

 Several Newman staff, faculty members and students gathered to celebrate the 2022 SHERO awards.
Several Newman staff, faculty members and students gathered to celebrate the 2022 SHERO awards.

Director of Multicultural Engagement and Campus Life Vanessa Rials said she loves taking the opportunity to remind people just how amazing they are, and the SHERO awards provided the perfect chance to do so.

“The SHERO awards is an amazing opportunity to recognize some amazing individuals we have on campus,” Rials said.