The COVID-19 crisis curtailed many Women’s History Month 2020 activities, including this year’s public celebrations of Jacksonville University’s Women of the Year.
Still, members of the University community had nominated 34 exceptional undergraduate and graduate students and faculty and staff members for the annual Women of the Year awards, a campus tradition since 1998.
This year’s nominees, as those who preceded them, model so much leadership, dedication to service, and commitment to the University, that the Women of the Year committee couldn’t help but complete its work by honoring:
- Sade Meeks as the Frances B. Kinne Undergraduate Woman of the Year
- Jenna Blyler as the Graduate Woman of the Year
- Jamie Burket as the Staff Woman of the Year
- Shelley Grant as the Faculty Woman of the Year
“Just because we sadly had to cancel the public events doesn’t mean we shouldn’t celebrate the contributions of these exceptional women,” says Women of the Year committee member Caroline Busker.
For example, junior accounting major Sade Meeks competes on the track and field team, serves as vice president of the Student Government Association and was recently elected to serve as president in 2020-21, and is founder and president of the campus chapter of the National Association of Black Accountants. She also maintains a 4.0 GPA.
“She is so proud to be a member of the Jacksonville University community and one of the most spirited people I know,” Director of Student Inclusion Patrice Abner wrote in her nomination for Sade. “Sade is passionate, hard-working and exhibits great leadership qualities.”
“Sade is a treat to everyone she meets.”
The annual award, named for Dr. Frances Bartlett Kinne, beloved Chancellor Emerita of the University, is endowed with a $500 scholarship.
Jenna Blyler is a Public Policy Institute graduate student who works as both a residential advisor and as the academic media specialist in the Provost’s Office. Last January, the journal Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Psychology published a paper on research ethics and methods failures in psychology she co-authored with Dr. Richard Griggs and Dr. Sherri Jackson.
“Jenna has worked tirelessly assisting faculty and staff across our campus,” Dr. Colleen Wilson, Director of the Marilyn Repsher Center for Teaching and Learning wrote in her nomination. “JU is fortunate to have a grad student who is so diligent about helping to promote all the great work that is done on our campus.”
Jamie Burket, the Assistant Dean of Students who has taken an active role in the University’s response to the current crisis, began her Dolphin career as Director of Recreation and Operations. In that role, she streamlined processes, enhanced the student worker experience and improved the overall service level in Davis Student Commons. In her current role, she works to implement best practices to help shape the co-curricular experience.
“Her accomplishments are only half of the story. She is vigorously committed to getting the job done, while remaining a truly considerate human,” according to her nomination. “She is an unsung hero making positive strides and changes at Jacksonville University.”
Before arriving at Jacksonville University, Assistant Professor of Sociology Shelley Grant worked to help address juvenile delinquency, and her connections have helped many of her current students secure internships and jobs. In her current academic role, she studies and teaches about criminal justice and related topics. But one of the impacts of her instructional approach, as evidenced by her long-running collaboration with Communities In Schools through her annual Crime in Media class, is empowering at-risk youth in Jacksonville to avoid negative life outcomes.
“Her contribution to the entire campus community is felt not only in her unmatched dedication to our students and their academic and personal successes, but also in her completely selfless service to the advancement of the entire university and surrounding community,” Artist-In-Residence of Theatre Erik DeCicco wrote in his nomination.
The full list of nominees includes:
Student Woman of the Year
- Allie Mills
- Asha Simpson
- Emma Wood
- Haley D’Allessandro
- Jeilymar Morales
- Jenna Batt
- Julianne Hutchinson
- Keiondra Payne
- Leonna Howard
- Marley Wilson Casapino
- Sade Meeks
- Sydnee Larson
- Wei Yu
Graduate Woman of the Year
- Annie McCleary Price
- Jenna Blyler
- Krystina Nelson
- Marcell Price
Faculty/Staff Woman of the Year
- Alix Robinson
- Donna Bratcher
- Hana Maris
- Jamie Burket
- Jenny Boyer
- Katie Jackson
- LaTonya Summers
- Lauren Griffith
- Marguerite Richardson
- Patrice Abner
- Promise Gainey
- Sandra Coyle
- Shelley Grant
- Sherri Jackson
- Toni Higgs
- Wendy Gillis
- Wyndi Capeci