Photo by Sam Taksar

Lauren Connolly recognized as Powerful Outstanding Woman at 29th Theo Kalikow Award Ceremony

Kay Bailey


Print Editor


On Friday, April 5, the President’s Commission on the Status of Women held the 29th annual Theo Kalikow Award ceremony, recognizing outstanding women at PSU; both within the campus and from the greater community. Three awards were given out throughout the ceremony, the Student Powerful Outstanding Women’s Award, the Community Powerful Outstanding Women’s Award, and the Theo Kalikow Award. Each of the four recipients from tonight’s event was recognized for their tireless work and effort in advancing women’s representation, both in the fields of education and science.

The ceremony opened with remarks from Alison Mitchell, assistant professor of social work and member of the PCSW, who spoke on the importance of recognizing powerful women in their field, and acknowledged how much farther still women have to go. President Donald Birx followed shortly after, continuing Mitchell’s sentiments of women’s successes and remaining gaps in the professional space. He took time to make note of influential women’s triumphs over the past year, highlighting Missy Eliot’s entrance into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Christina Koch’s journey to soonly becoming the first women on the moon, and other women’s pioneering roles in positions of power and bodies of office. Birx continued the ceremony by introducing the awardees and attributing their many successes in advocating for women-focused issues.

Photo by Sam Taksar

Lauren Connolly 24’ was the recipient of this year’s Student Powerful Outstanding Women’s award, receiving this honor for her work with the Remedial Herstory Project, a national non-profit focused on advancing history curriculum to be more representative of women. As an intern for the RHP, Connolly made important headway on improving the history curriculum for grades 9 and below, improving the program’s website to make it more accessible for teachers across the nation, and even implementing her own curriculum in the classroom as a student teacher.

“It kinda means everything, it’s everything I’ve worked up to.” Connolly commented after receiving the award, “I’ve been doing the Remedial Herstory and work for women for the last three years specifically, and it just seems like it’s all finally coming together. We’ve built this organization from the ground up, and I’m just proud of it.”

Connolly focused on improving lesson plans concerning Mongolian women and their impact on the Mongolian empire, women in the Protestant Reformation, and Joan of Arc to name a few; adapting materials to make them more digestible for younger students. Connolly wanted to ensure that students learning history could “learn about women, and actually understand why they’re learning it.”

After her imminent graduation, Connolly will remain a part of the RHP as their webmaster, as well as taking on a role as a social studies teacher. In her acceptance speech, she attributed her success to many of her closest professors, notably Kelsie Eckert, the recipient of the Theo Kalikow award and co-founder of the RHP.

Eckert is a third-year assistant professor at PSU, and program coordinator for social studies education. In her acceptance speech for the Theo Kalikow award, she attributed her success and interest in the field of women’s history progression to three things, “skinny dipping, Mongolian queens, and Tonya Harding.” In addition to her founding of an educational non-profit, she also created the Eckert test of historical context, which assesses how equally women are represented in history and ensures they are not boiled down to a simple “token figure” in our past. In all of the work that Eckert has done, she maintains the narrative that uplifting each other’s successes is women’s recognition is a success for everyone. “Our win is PSU’s win.”

The other recipient was assistant provost Lourdes Avilés. Avilés was the first Puerto Rican woman to earn a PhD in atmospheric science in the country, something she did not realize she had accomplished until she had done it, and the first women meteorology professor to join PSU’s faculty. Avilés adapted a very down-to-earth narrative as she spoke of her accomplishments in advancing women and Latine access to science fields, stating simply that “I do what I feel is my responsibility throughout my life.”

The recipient of the Community Powerful Outstanding Women’s award was Kaitlyn Morse, founder of BeBop Labs. Morse is adamant about bringing women into fields of science, pushing against the ingrained bias against women that keeps them from accessing these related professions. Morse also taught as an adjunct professor at PSU, creating drop boxes centered around the disposal and investigation of the local tick population.

The ceremony concluded with a speech from keynote speaker Lianne Prentice, a community member devoted to addressing food insecurity issues.