In honor of Women’s History Month, the University held the Influential Women of Northwest awards ceremony, with special recognition to junior Lonnae Young.
The awards ceremony was March 15 on the first floor of the B.D. Owens Library. There were three award categories: Influential Women of Northwest Staff Award, Influential Women of Northwest Faculty Award and the Influential Student of Northwest Lonnae Young Award.
Young was a residential assistant and a member of Sigma Society who died unexpectedly Feb. 16. The University decided to name the student award after Young. The award will be given to a student every year in her honor.
The Influential Student of Northwest Award was given to two students, Young and sophomore Bryana Jones.
Associate professor Elyssa Ford said Young was an influential student because she made an impact on others.
“Lonnae is someone who almost everyone on campus knew, and she was someone who would qualify for this award regardless because of the influence she had and the things she has done here,” Ford said.
Young’s family attended the ceremony and accepted the award on her behalf. Mother of Young, Marie Dawson, gave a speech during the ceremony and recognized the students who were nominated for the Lonnae Young Student Award.
Dawson said during her speech that Young was an introvert and would’ve been overwhelmed by the emotions throughout the ceremony.
“Lonnae was not the emotional type of person,” Dawson said. “She would just be like ‘Oh, my God, that’s too many emotions in one room.’ Lonnae was not the type of person who looked for people to boost and pump her up. She was OK with doing what she did and going on with that.”
Dawson said her family is appreciative of Northwest naming the student award after Young.
“Our family is overjoyed and proud. We feel like Lonnae gave her all,” Dawson said. “Countless times when students were home enjoying their families, Lonnae sacrificed and stayed at school. Lonnae would walk through campus when there was no one really there and she would stay in the building and work extra hours, so I think she was very deserving of that award.”
Dawson said she was proud of Young and all of her accomplishments.
“Lonnae was a wonderful child and goal-driven. She had her whole life planned out,” Dawson said. “I’m just proud I was able to be her mother and enjoy her love and the wonderful person that she was.”
Sigma Society President junior Holly Hartfield was a nominee for the Lonnae Young Student Award. Hartfield said Young’s award was based on people who spoke highly of her.
“The award was about someone who pushes people to step out of their comfort zones,” Hartfield said. “Someone who encourages other women to excel in their field and in other areas. She did everything to make everyone else happy and everything she could to encourage everybody to do something good in their day.”
Adviser Kenna Johnson said she hopes this ceremony will be an annual event.
“We’ve decided as a committee that we hope this is something that will take place every March,” Johnson said. “To commemorate, not only Northwest women and the history they’ve made on our campus and beyond, but women’s history celebration in general.”
Johnson said Northwest has had women who have taken on leadership roles throughout campus that some people may not know. President John Jasinski gave special recognition to Provost Jamie Hooyman.
“Over the 114 years of our Institution, we’ve had 12 women serve on the Board of Regents,” Johnson said. “I’m thankful we’ve had 12 women serve in that leadership role. We celebrated Dr. Jamie Hooyman, our University provost, and she is the first woman to ever hold that position. We have stuff to celebrate, and we’ll have even more stuff to celebrate next year.”