First ‘SHEro awards’ recognizes women in the Newman community

Mar 20, 2019
shero awards speaker

Newman University hosted its first ever “SHEro awards” Tuesday, March 19, in the Dugan-Gorges Conference Center.

The awards ceremony took place during Women’s History Month and was part of a weeklong set of activities to celebrate women and their contributions.

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

Joseph Shepard, director of multicultural engagement and campus life, said the concept of the SHEro awards fit well with Newman University’s code: to live in a spirit of critical consciousness, respect dignity of every individual, to embrace all humanity and to honor integrity.

“The reception was phenomenal,” he said. “For the first year, I am very pleased. Of course, we’re constantly looking at ways we can grow. As I continue to work with students and colleagues to developed the framework for multicultural engagement, we will listen to feedback and continue to enhance all of our programs — SHEro included.”

Shepard said he’s hoping the banquet will become an annual event and excited to see excitement throughout campus for upcoming years.

Before the awards were presented, keynote speaker Yolanda Camarena, president of the Kansas Hispanic Education and Development Foundation board of directors and chair of the Schools and Scholarships Committee at Harvard University, spoke to the audience about her own “SHEros” and how they shaped her life.

Camarena, director of admissions at Newman University from 1979 to 1983, praised women such as her mother and her sisters. She spoke dearly of the sisters of the Adorers of the Blood of Christ (ASC), sponsors of Newman University, who play a large role in shaping students of Newman. She said they knew the importance of “girl power” before it was popular.

“I was a young woman beginning my career at that time and didn’t really know about networking or mentors because we weren’t a part of the ‘old boys network,'” explained Camarena. “But … Newman had ‘the sisters network’ and these women were professors, provosts, administrators and even college presidents. They took me under their wing and mentored me on how to be a professional woman, which gave me the confidence to move up within the college. I also saw and experienced the amazing work that the sisters were doing in underserved communities. I had an opportunity to meet young women from all over the world who were sponsored by the sisters to be educated here.”

Camarena praised and thanked all of the women who were nominated for the Newman SHEro awards.

“I think it’s a great thing that you have that opportunity to recognize and to be able to encourage and boost each other. But the most important thing is to be here for the young women … because they do grow up.”

Nominations were presented in each of four categories: alumni, student, staff and faculty. A special Dr. Suzanne Berg SHEro of Excellence Award was also presented at the end of the ceremony.

The 2019 SHEro award recipients (l to r) Deborah Moss, Renee Duxler, Cammie Kennedy, Ami Larrea and Lori Steiner.

The award recipients were:

  • Alumni SHEro award — Renee Duxler ’04
  • Student SHEro award — Deborah Moss, sophomore
  • Faculty SHEro award — Lori Steiner, associate professor of mathematics and director of Institutional Research
  • Staff SHEro award — Ami Larrea, academic and international advisor
  • Dr. Suzanne Berg SHEro of Excellence Award — Cammie Kennedy, director of Undergraduate Admissions

The nominees in each category were:


  • Alditia Aldava
  • Tia Allen
  • Renee Duxler
  • Alexis Reed
  • Luisa Taylor


  • Courtney Klaus
  • Bria Degrate
  • Emily Larkin
  • Deborah Moss


  • Morgan Calvert
  • Ami Larrea
  • Cammie Kennedy
  • Angel Moore
  • Christine Schneikart-Luebbe


  • Jessica Bird
  • Noreen M. Carrocci, Ph.D.
  • Tiko Hardy
  • Kiley Hicks, Ph.D.
  • Jeanette Parker
  • Lori Steiner, Ph.D.
  • Deanne Zogleman