PULLMAN, Wash. — Strength of character and an uncommon devotion to their families and their communities are attributes shared by all four finalists selected for this year’s Washington State University Mom of the Year Award.

The winner of the award will be announced at a Mom’s Weekend brunch honoring each of the four finalists at 10 a.m. Saturday, April 17, in the Compton Union Building Ballroom. The brunch is one of many scheduled events being held as part of the 2004 WSU Mom’s Weekend, slated from April 16 through April 18. For a complete rundown of the weekend’s events, see www.events.wsu.edu/moms-weekend/index.html.

This year’s finalists are Marie Cochran, nominated by sophomore Katie Cochrane; Susan A. Jackson, nominated by senior communications major Jennifer Jackson; Christine Sodorff, nominated by senior education major Emily Sodorff; and Jane Winterfeld, nominated by freshman Stacy Winterfeld.

As described by her daughter Katie, Marie Cochran is a friend, confidante, nurturing parent and role model who has achieved professional success and overcome personal adversity. A former executive of Bellevue-based Internet company, Katie’s mom is herself a senior at WSU, where she is majoring in a digital technology and culture program within the College of Liberal Arts.

“She has sacrificed herself so many times to do what was best for my brother and me,” the younger Cochran wrote in her nomination. “She is a shining example of what every mother who is nominated for this award should be.”

Jennifer Jackson said she considers her mother, Susan, a “hero” – a single parent who literally saved the lives of her two daughters by adopting them out of the poverty, illness and neglect into which both had been born in India.

Describing her mother’s battle with bureaucracy and corruption to free her from the Calcutta birthing center where she was left following her birth, the younger Jackson said her mom succeeded in bringing her safely home to Washington only to learn she would face additional adversities within the first few months of her adopted daughter’s life.

“I was diagnosed with a hole in my heart a month before my first birthday,” the WSU senior wrote of her mother, who is a WSU alumna. “She was forced to quit her job to take care of me, living on her savings and keeping me in near isolation for six months at home since I was extremely susceptible to germs. She isn’t the mother of the year. She’s the mother of a lifetime.”

Christine Sodorff, director of field experiences and student teaching for the WSU College of Education, was described by her daughter Emily as a mother who has devoted her life to her children, educational excellence and public service.

“She dedicates herself completely to everything she does and always puts others before herself,” Emily Sodorff said. “She is funny and warm and caring and people are naturally drawn to her. My peers have told me how much they loved having her as a teacher and enjoyed her class and I couldn’t be more proud.”

A WSU alumna, Jane Winterfeld is described by her daughter, Stacy, as a woman who has been a source of strength and comfort to her family in the face of personal loss, near-fatal traffic accident injuries and an ongoing struggle against cancer.

“My mother has spent the last 28 years of her life as a loving wife and an elementary school teacher, as well as the last 22 years as a remarkable mother to my brother Steven and I,” Stacy Winterfeld wrote. “It would be easy for her to wimp out, give up hope, and pity herself and her situation. But looking at my mother, you would never know anything was wrong.”

The annual Mom of the Year award recipient is selected from nominations submitted by sons and daughters attending WSU. The Mom of the Year Selection Committee reviews the student nominations, choosing a number of finalists based on the students’ descriptions of their mother’s most admirable attributes and each woman’s contributions to their local community and to WSU.

More than 100 activities — ranging from concerts, athletic activities, exhibits, special programs and more — are scheduled during the three days of this year’s Mom’s Weekend.

The annual event is sponsored by the WSU Parent’s Program and coordinated by the Mom’s Weekend Committee under the direction of the Women’s Resource Center. The committee communicates information about events sponsored by other campus organizations and clubs, and seeks diverse representation in its membership.