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Women's Center Awards

WomC Awards

The WomC Awards, or Duke Women’s Center Awards, are our way of celebrating Duke students who have gone above and beyond in advancing gender equity on our campus. At this event, we celebrate a year’s long fellowship with our allies and advocates in social change with awesome speakers, free food, and lots of fun! The WomC Award ceremony recognizes individuals and campus organizations making an impact at Duke and beyond with 6 award categories to honor the amazing contributions of women and femme-identified folks on campus, locally, state-wide, and nationally. View descriptions of our award categories and past award winners below!

35 years of the Women's Center!

Thank you to everyone who attended the 2024 WomC Awards, the kickoff to our 35th Anniversary Celebration! For more information on how we're celebrating, subscribe to our newsletter. And join us next March for the 2025 WomC Awards!

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Student Organization Award

In recognition of a student organization on campus make advancing equity and engagement for Duke students

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Willow Kaplan | WE@Duke Co-President

a tan woman smiling against the backdrop of the Duke Chapel hallway

Malini Kamlani | WE@Duke Co-President

Awarded to the two women two who started a new femme student organization on campus, one that was partially inspired by a Women’s Center event held last September: Women's Empowerment at Duke. 

Campus Impact Award

In recognition of outstanding contributions to the Duke community that contributes to the efficacy of women and femme-identified folks on campus.

photo of a white woman with long brown hair smiling

Carina Carpenter | Associate Director of New Student and Family Programs

Awarded for her compassionate leadership and collaborative spirit in program planning. 

National Impact Award

In recognition of outstanding contributions to the national state of women and femme-identified folks through policy, law, advocacy, or other methods of eliminating injustice.

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Grace Williams | Duke Pre-Law Student

Awarded for her work advocating for diversity and equity on a national scale through the campaign of Joyce Elliott for Congress.

Global Impact Award

In recognition of outstanding contributions to the global community honoring the human rights of women and femme-identified folks.

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Sandra Okeke Bates| Duke Nursing Student and GPSG DEI Director

Awarded for amazing work in healthcare community activism in her homecountry Nigeria and advanced DEI efforts on campus as part of the GPSG. 

Woman of Strength Award

Created to celebrate the first woman of color Director of the Duke Women's Center, Dr. Stephanie Helms Pickett, now Assistant Vice Provost at NC State, this award goes to someone that shows strength in their work, community, and education, while leading with guidance, grace, and resilience.

Picture of a black woman smiling

Dawna Jones | Assistant Vice President for Identity Centers and Community Development

Awarded for her outstanding and amazing work with women and femme-identifying individuals at Duke and the community, in addition to the strength she possesses as an individual and a professional. Dawna Jones has also done amazing work in her capacity with the Duke Identity & Culture Centers, her research on the Super Woman Complex among Black women, her support of numerous student organizations, and her presidency of the Chapel-Hill-Carboro NAACP.

2023 WomC Award Recipients

Campus Impact Award

In recognition of outstanding contributions to the Duke community that contributes to the efficacy of women and femme-identified folks on campus

  • Fatima Massare Somers, Duke Bass Connections scholar
    • "Fatima has made huge strides in inspiring and normalizing an empowered approach to discussing reproductive health on campus. She has hosted multiple documentary screenings and discussions to female identifying students around campus that creates a safe space for us to reflect the stigma that people with uteruses on campus face . . ."

  • Elizabeth Bock, Leader of Women+Outdoor Adventures club
    • "Her greatest contribution towards advancing gender equality on campus is through her work with Women+ Outdoor Adventures . . . she met with different campus organizations, gathering programing ideas and researching effective tools for bringing women, LGBTQ+, and other marginalized groups into a gym setting. Thanks to Elizabeth's efforts, the program is now a permanent part of Duke Outdoor Adventures."

Community Impact Award

In recognition of outstanding contributions to further collaboration between the Duke-Durham communities for women and femme-identified folks

  • Anna Muthalaly, Reproductive justice student activist & writer
    • “Anna’s work on reproductive justice advocacy is a true testament to her belief in social justice for all. Beyond the written work available on her substack at, she has also done some phenomenal work with Planned Parenthood and the Women’s Center in preparing for the 2023 Reproductive Justice Conference. Carry on the good work, Anna!”

National Impact Award

In recognition of outstanding contributions to the national state of women and femme-identified folks through policy, law, advocacy, or other methods of eliminating injustice

  • Amy Arnold, Executive Director of D-Tech
    • "Amy has been an integral part of DTech’s growth and success as it is considered by many universities, all over the country, as a model intervention . . . She is a tireless advocate for women in computing. Her passion for the success of our students is palpable . . .[and] Amy consistently utilizes these data for continuous program improvement, making decisions at every turn to impact the lives of our students."

Global Impact Award

In recognition of outstanding contributions to the global community honoring the human rights of women and femme-identified folks

  • Snehal Verma, Co-founder of Nature Dots
    • "Snehal deserves the award to boost and celebrate her multi-impactful in the field of Food-systems, community livelihoods and health and inclusive access to technology for the bottom of pyramid lives. She is passionate about conservation, restoration of natural ecosystems but her passion for impact-space to uplift women, children and poor stands out . . . she is always working to give voice to voiceless, be it people, plants, animals or thoughts."

Woman of Strength Award

Created to celebrate the first woman of color Director of the Duke Women's Center, Dr. Stephanie Helms Pickett, now Assistant Vice Provost at NC State, this award goes to someone that shows strength in their work, community, and education, while leading with guidance, grace, and resilience

  • Samaiyah Faison, Assistant Director of the Mary Lou Center for Black Culture
    • "Samaiyah has shown the epitome of grace and strength in her time as a staff member at Duke. She is known to go above and beyond her duties in support of students and her colleagues . . . Samaiyah [is] a go-to or students, faculty, and staff for person-centered care and compassion . . . All who know Samaiyah would agree that she leads with grace and is a resilient professional who has overcome and works for the good of others."

Senior Impact Award

In recognition of outstanding contributions to the work of the Women’s Center by senior interns

  • Isabella Coogan, Women's Center senior intern
    • “Isabella was the best intern a new assistant director could ask for. Powerful, confident, steadfast, and hard-working, she was the ideal student worker. More than that, she was and is a kind and thoughtful person, going out of her way to incorporate gender equity principles into fun and uplifting programming for students. She will be missed but we hope she goes on to do amazing things in the world outside Duke University!”


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Eden Schumer

Eden is a sophomore from Westport, CT studying public policy, political science, and gender, sexuality and feminist studies. Passionate about social justice, education, and civic engagement, Eden co-founded/directed the recent S.H.A.P.E. Initiative; is President of Empower Her Voice (Duke Chapter), an international feminist collective working to promote girls' education and their empowerment; and hopes to continue helping the Duke community evolve through advocacy, collaboration and mentorship.

a photo of light-skinned man with dark eyes and a prominent Adam's apple stare stoically into the camera; depicted from the shoulders up against a dark grey background, he has large ears and dark tousled hair

Jake Jeffries

Jake is a sophomore from Foster City, CA studying public policy, computer science, and philosophy. As a member of the Duke Student Government, Jake co-founded/directed the S.H.A.P.E. Initiative and continues to work on programs addressing Duke social culture in hopes of cultivating a more inclusive Duke identity.

About S.H.A.P.E.

The S.H.A.P.E. Initiative at Duke (Sexual Harassment and Assault Prevention & Education) is a student-driven, multi-faceted campaign to address sexual assault in the Duke community. The Initiative launched this February with its first annual S.H.A.P.E. Week, an awareness week achieved through the collaboration of over twenty different undergraduate and graduate student groups, academic departments, and centers across campus. The week of events featured intervention workshops, trainings, forums, resources and other activities, concluding with a keynote speech by 2018 Nobel Peace Prize laureate Nadia Murad. S.H.A.P.E.'s goals are to highlight current prevention methods and campus resources; support policy reform; collaborate with other student groups and departments committed to addressing and ending sexual assault; and educate members of the Duke community about how these issues are perpetuated by certain aspects of our climate. We hope the Initiative will continue to be part of amplifying these important conversations and improving the safety and general experience for everyone at Duke.


a woman with an olive-skin tone stands outdoors with her back to a tree in the middle of a sun-dappled grassy field; she is wearing denim shorts and a black t-shirt with the words "still feminist" printed on it in white text; she stands in the center of the photo, depicted from her knees up with her arms by her side smiling at the camera

Mehreen Shafqat

Mehreen has been a rockstar for the Women's Center for 3 years as a Gender Violence Prevention Education Facilitator! She is a graduating senior from St. Louis, MO; majoring in biology and minoring in gender, sexuality, and feminist studies. In her spare time, she loves to read, talk to her family, volunteer with the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, and is a member of the Nexus. Mehreen has had such an impact on the work of the Women's Center and all of the prevention and education trainings, such as P.A.C.T. and the 5 Key Norms. She continues to be an integral part of shifting culture and changing behavior.

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Maggie Thomas

Maggie is a leader at Duke and is burning a path for others. Her expertise and guidance has earned her this award of distinction. She is graduating from Duke Divinity School this spring with a Masters of Theological Studies. During her time at Duke, she has served as the co-president of the Duke Divinity Women's Center and the Gender Violence Prevention Graduate Assistant at the Duke Women's Center, as well as the Pastoral Intern at various churches in the area. Before moving to North Carolina, Maggie studies Social Work and Speech Pathology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and hopes to return for a Masters of Social Work next year. She has enjoyed calling Durham home with her husband, Zach, and their two dogs, Onyx and Atl.


logo of the calla campaign; a pinkish-red line tapered at the left end and wider at the right end slashes horizontally across a white background; encircling the red line are thin black lines representing curls; from the wider red end of the red line a red teardrop extends down toward the bottom of the image

The Calla Campaign 

The Calla Campaign is the creation of a proud team of female engineers, physicians, historians, humanists, global health researchers, and artists. The project’s purpose is to reframe women’s reproductive health through a self-exploration project that educates and empowers women about their own reproductive anatomy and shares findings with the public via a series of art exhibits to raise awareness and promote dialogue.

a photo of a medium to dark skinned woman with dark hair showing a light skinned male with blonde hair a new speculum tool against the backdrop of a busy conference atmosphere; to her right, a white and blue poster explains the purpose of the speculum she is holding, reading "Pocket Colposcope" in large white letters

The Calla Campaign involves (1) woman-centric technology, the Callascope, for self-visualization of the inner vagina and cervix, (2) in-depth interviews of women from different cultures, education and socioeconomic levels, (3) art and storytelling by local and nationally renowned artists. It is being piloted with local women in Durham, NC, USA with plans to expand to a multicultural scale with women in Lima, Peru and Accra, Ghana.


a dark-skinned woman with greying hair, red glasses, and a red suit jacket smiles at the camera with burgundy lipstick

Dr. Zoila Airall

This year’s Woman of Strength shows that the greatest embodiment of strength is held in wisdom and  leadership. Zoila Airall is completing her 18th year as the Assistant Vice President for Campus Life in Student Affairs and Adjunct Associate Professor of the Practice in Education at Duke University.  Her administrative responsibilities include oversight of seven cultural centers, the University Center for Student Activities and Events and she serves as the liaison to the Duke Chapel Religious Life staff. 

After receiving two graduate counseling degrees at Columbia University and working for ten years in counseling in a high school, a college and a mental health clinic, Airall became fascinated with the culture of learning and schooling and continued on for a doctorate in Anthropology of Education at Penn.  She also teaches in her field at Duke. Two former college presidents for whom she worked described her as a risk taker because of her willingness to blaze trails.  In 1981, she made history by becoming the first person of color to ever work at Bethany College, a small liberal arts college in West Virginia.  Another president described her as someone who has a wide-angle view about people and she attributes that to having spent her first 18 years of life, growing up in the US, Panama Canal Zone and Germany. 

As a musician, Airall is the substitute organist at Epworth United Methodist Church and a violinist in a small string ensemble.  Committed to community service and the arts, she is a member of Rotary International, and has served on Durham’s Cultural Advisory Board.  As a passionate social justice advocate, Airall has worked for ten years with the National Advisory Council for Race and Ethnicity in Higher Education. 

The international organization for which she has been a member for 42 years is Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority.  In 1978 she became an Alpha Kappa Alpha woman in Theta Pi Omega, a graduate Chapter in New Jersey. Later Airall served as the chapter’s president, and representative on several committees for the North Atlantic Region.  She is currently a member of Mu Omicron Omega Chapter in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

Emerging Campus Award: Amelia Steinbach, Duke Honor Council

Campus Impact Award: Sydney Lane, Black Women's Union

Community Impact Award: Uyi Idahor, Young Women of Progress

State Impact Award: North Carolina Council for Women and Youth Involvement

National Impact Award: Kelly Fair, Polished Pebbles

Global Impact Award: Anwuli Ngozi Okonjo, Through the Eyes of African Women

The Woman of Strength Award: Cathy Watson, Duke Divinity School

Emerging Impact Undergraduate Award: Ana Ramirez, Define American

Emerging Impact Graduate/Professional Award: Adela Deanova, Project Vox

Campus Impact Award: Elizabeth Barahona, Lambda Theta Alpha Sorority, Incorporated

Community Impact Award: Melissa Beretta, The Girls Club

Digital Impact Award: Chandler Phillips and Eliza Moreno, The Bridge

National Impact Award: Katie Wyatt, El Sistema, USA

Emerging Impact Award: Julia Roberts, Women in science and engineering.

Community Impact Award: Tangela Stoner-Blackwell

State Impact Award: Partnership for Appalachian Girls' Education

National Impact Award: NC Organizers, Women's March on Washington

Global Impact Award: Alexandria Miller, Critical analysis of artistry of Caribbean Women.