College of Sciences and Humanities recognizes outstanding women at award ceremony

The College of Sciences and Humanities showcased the hard work and accomplishments of a select group of Indiana women at its 2009 Indiana Women of Achievement awards ceremony.

"[The awards] are important because we live in a society that still does not give equal credit to men and women for their skills and their accomplishments and their leadership," said Susan Johnson, associate dean of the College of Sciences and Humanities.

About 50 students were invited to attend the ceremony and dinner reception Wednesday night at the Alumni Center to talk to the awardees.

"We hope that it helps students not be afraid to set goals for themselves that are lofty," Johnson said.

The awardees, all Indiana women by birth or adoption, were chosen for their accomplishments in their respective fields.

Johnson said the candidates all displayed "dedication to their goals and persistence in seeking those goals."

Former Ball State student Bibi Bahrami, founder of the nonprofit organization Afghan Women and Kids Education and Necessities (AWAKEN), was recognized for her humanitarianism. Born in Afghanistan, she was forced to move to a refugee camp in Pakistan during the Sovient Union's invasion of her country. In 1986. Bahrami moved to the U.S., where she was educated. After establishing AWAKEN, she has spearheaded the aid of needy people in Afghanistan by building a school for children, medical centers and women's training centers in rural villages.

Bahrami said her organiaztion plans to develop and expand her work in other villages.

"Our mission is to serve as many people as we can," Bahrami said. "The students in Afghanistan do not have means like here [in the U.S.]. Here, we have such great opportunity."

Saber Bahrami, the husband of Bibi Bahrami, said she knew no English when they moved to the U.S. He said that his wife's accomplishments in the U.S. as a foreigner proves to American youth that goals can be accomplished "if one has desire."

Betty Cockrum, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Indiana, introduced Janelle Boo, saying that she is "an outstanding therapist, researcher and person." Boo, a Ph.D. candidate of counseling psychology at Ball State University, was named one of the Perham Scholars for the night, along with Carissa Buchholz Hipsher. Buchholz Hipsher is a junior natural resources and environmental management major, and senior Juli Digate, a French and political science major.

Jean Amman, assitant to the provost, was one of the award recipients during the ceremony. She said that the Women of Achievement awards tells female students about how it is their responsibility to uphold the legacy of their predecessors.

"There have been so many women working to deal with various issues over the 20th century," Amman said. "Female students may take them for granted. We are getting more girls into science fields and governmental positions, but we still have a long way to go."


Award winners:

Jean Amman, assitant to the provost and served as president of the Muncie American Association for University Women

Bibi Bahrami
, founder of nonprofit organization Afghan Women and Kids Education and Necessities (AWAKEN)

Alice Bennett, biology professor emerita

Victoria Champion, associate dean for research at Indiana University School of Nursing who made contributions to breast cancer and behaviorial oncological studies

Ermalene Faulkner
, first black principal in Muncie who served on 25 committees in Muncie Community School District

Diane Shaffer
, cared for more than 10,000 wild animals during her 46-year career of nature conservation and wildlife rehabilitation


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