PULLMAN, Wash. — Community service laced with five mothers’ strong support for their children and dedication to making the world something better make up Washington State University’s 2003 Mom of the Year finalists.
The finalists Nga Pham of Des Moines, Becky Rettkowski of Wilbur, Delena Sunday of Renton, Barbara Walters of Farmington, N.M., and Candace Weber from Kirkland, will be honored by their nominators at the Mom’s Weekend brunch at 10 a.m. Saturday, April 12, in the Compton Union Building’s M.G. Carey Ballroom. The 2003 Mom of the Year will also be announced.
Pham is a fighter, as described by her daughter Cassie Duong, a junior zoology major. Pham has lobbied in Olympia for women, children, equal rights and Vietnamese students across the state. The WSU chapter of the Vietnamese Students Association has been revived since Pham became the state adviser.
“It never occurred to me that my mom was any different than the neighbor next door,” Duong said. “She was always telling us that she was fighting for my sister and me, always fighting for the future.”
After senior sports management major Chris Rettkowski’s father died of a brain tumor and his childhood best friend died, he said it was his mother who was the central person in his life…the one who kept him on the path to reaching his dreams through love and compassion.
Betty Rettkowski has donated money to help outstanding WSU sport management students finance their education and other departments. She also is greatly involved in her local community. She volunteers at the local elementary school in the H.O.S.T.S. program that helps mentor struggling students in math and English. She is the co-chair for the “Christmas on the Hill” charity that benefits children and active in her local church as well as many other community organizations.
Christina Hardy, a freshman communication major, nominated Sunday because she has been an inspiration to not only her, but many others. She is the vice president of Diversity Affairs of the Nordstrom Corporation and was recently promoted to oversee the entire Human Resources Department. Sunday is the only African American woman on the executive board and has promoted diversity, education and community throughout the United States.
“She has become the backbone of my entire family,” Hardy said. “She works a very busy schedule and travels almost once a week, but she still makes time for her family.”
Senior communication major McKenzie Martin nominated her mother, because they not only have experienced a lot together, but Walters has taught her daughter the importance of believing in yourself and the power that lies within. A WSU graduate, Walters is a massage therapist who is an avid biker and skier. She was recently the president of the football booster club at her son’s high school and stays involved with alumni activities through her sorority, Kappa Alpha Theta.
“My mom is someone who lights up a room when she walks in,” Martin said. “I just hope that when I am her age I can be like her.”
Weber was nominated by her daughter Jennifer Archer, senior public relations major, because she has taught her how to work for something she cares about and learn what satisfaction is gained from working hard. She is a WSU graduate, who was a member of Alpha Omicron Pi sorority, a reporter for the Daily Evergreen and served on the “Popcorn Forum,” which helped organize free movies for the student body, while an undergraduate at WSU.
“My mom has helped me along the road to adulthood by letting me go free at times, and then pulling me back to keep me in check at other times,” Archer said. “She has taught me how to be myself and discover who I really am.”
The Mom of the Year Award is presented each year to recognize the impact mother’s make on their children’s lives, to honor their personal achievements and contributions to their local and WSU communities.