Berea Women: In Synch With Success

Women in Science

Berea’s female students completely SWEPT the undergraduate category of the poster session at the recent Tri-State Women in Computing Conference held in Cincinnati. They took all three top places! Raunak Shona Thakur received Honorable Mention (Third place) in the Undergraduate Category for “Using Web Technologies to Improve Application Process.” In Second Place in the Undergraduate Category, Phyo Phyo Kyaw Zin was awarded a $300 scholarship for “Developing Dashboard Management System (DMS).” The First Place Award in the Undergraduate Category went to Amber Tolleson and Ashley Aiken for “The Detection of Gas in Fracking Contaminated Water,” for which they received a $1,000 scholarship to be split between them.

Students and Dr. Pearce at the 2016 Tri-State Women in Computing Conference

Students with Dr. Jan Pearce (center) at the 2016 Tri-State Women in Computing Conference.

Although there were more than 200 people in attendance at the Conference, no other schools placed in the undergraduate category even though students were present from large public universities as well as a number of technical colleges and smaller institutions. Jan Pearce, Professor of Mathematics and Computer Science said, “I could not be prouder of our amazing students as well as of my tremendous colleagues.”

Women in Culture and Public Dialogue

Gloria Steinem and bell hooks

Gloria Steinem and bell hooks

Acclaimed intellectual, feminist theorist, cultural critic, artist and writer bell hooks selected Berea College as the site for the bell hooks Institute, which documents her life and work. Born Gloria Jean Watkins in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, bell hooks adopted the pen name of her maternal great-grandmother, a woman known for speaking her mind.

The Institute strives to promote the cause of ending domination through understanding the ways systems of exploitation and oppression intersect through critical thinking, teaching, events and conversation. Her writings cover topics of gender, race, class, spirituality, teaching and the significance of media in contemporary culture. The Institute brings together regional and national scholars and thinkers, such as Gloria Steinem, with local community members to study, learn and engage in critical dialogue.

Women in Administration

During Berea’s 160-year history, women have provided numerous leadership roles. Alumni can recall names such as Bowersox, True, Butwell and Wolford in roles as Dean of Women, Dean of Students, Dean of Labor and Student Life. Gail Wolford pioneered the way for women on the College’s Administrative Committee, followed by others such as Browner, Newton and Kirby. Today, with Vice Presidents such as Strong-Leek, Douglas and Chen, women continue to provide outstanding administrative leadership in key facets of the College.

Women in the World

Berea student Moondil Jahan won the 2016-2017 Thomas J. Watson Fellowship prize of $30,000. Berea is the only school in the Commonwealth from which The Watson Fellowship accepts candidates. As one of 152 finalists who competed at the national level, Jahan receive one of the 40 fellowships offered.

For her fellowship, Jahan will engage in purposeful exploration— traveling the world for 365 days — after she graduates in May. Her project, “Journey through Rhythmaculture: Grieving and Rejoicing through Indigenous Drumming and Dancing,” will take her through Germany, Morocco, Spain, Peru, Ghana, Suriname and The Netherlands.

Jahan said, “I have chosen to explore these art forms across linguistic, cultural, and geographic border.” Delving into the rich and ancient tradition of drumming and dancing Jahan will gain firsthand exposure to the world’s most remarkable performers while learning the cathartic powers of rhythmaculture at a global level.

Moondill Jahan, winner of 2016-2017 Thomas J. Watson Fellowship prize of $30,000.

Moondill Jahan, winner of 2016-2017 Thomas J. Watson Fellowship prize of $30,000.

Categories: News, People
Tags: bell hooks, Gloria Steinem, Jan Pearce, Moondil Jahan, women in computing, women in culture

Berea College, the first interracial and coeducational college in the South, focuses on learning, labor and service. The College only admits academically promising students with limited financial resources—primarily from Kentucky and Appalachia—but welcomes students from 41 states and 76 countries. Every Berea student receives a Tuition Promise Scholarship, which means no Berea student pays for tuition. Berea is one of nine federally recognized Work Colleges, so students work 10 hours or more weekly to earn money for books, housing and meals. The College’s motto, “God has made of one blood all peoples of the earth,” speaks to its inclusive Christian character.