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Five honored as Women of Distinction

Motivational speaker Shandra Terry (above) gave her enactment of “Remembering Rosa Parks” on Tuesday as part of WSU’s annual Women of Distinction Awards and Recognition Luncheon ceremony at the CUB. (Photo, above, by Robert Hubner, WSU Photo Services.)

WSU’s annual Women of Distinction Awards were presented five women at the Women’s Recognition Luncheon. The awards honor women who have earned recognition through their personal accomplishments and their contributions to society and to women’s lives.

This year’s Woman of the Year award went to Rebecca Miles, chair of the Nez Perce Reservation’s tribal executive committee. Miles is the first woman to ever be elected to that position. She graduated from WSU in 1997 with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice.

Women of Distinction honorees are:

Barbara Aston, a member of the Wyandotte Nation of Oklahoma, is an assistant to the provost as the tribal liaison.

Among many other accomplishments, she collaborated with the College of Liberal Arts in developing the Plateau Center for American Indian Studies, and she works closely with the College of Education in support of the Clearinghouse for Native Teaching and Learning and to coordinate the Coeur d’Alene Tribe/WSU Education Plan.

She earned her master’s degree in pastoral studies from Loyola University.

• Judy Allen, WSU alumna, founded the Community Action Center in Whitman County and was director for 18 years.

Allen’s nominators commend her for bettering the plight of those living in poverty by providing them with job training and quality childcare. She has worked on and led various public and private projects addressing issues such as public health and safety, nutrition, budgeting, GED, community jobs and literacy.

She holds two master’s degrees from WSU — in child development and in regional planning.



Samantha Swindell, WSU faculty, is the undergraduate program director for the Department of Psychology. In addition to teaching, she oversees various aspects of the undergraduate program, including recruitment, program assessment, advising and retention.

She has been recognized for her teaching abilities both as a graduate student (GPSA Teaching Assistant Excellent Award, Independent Instruction, 1998) and a faculty member (William F. Mullen Excellence in Teaching Award, College of Liberal Arts, 2005).

She completed her master’s (1995) and doctoral (1998) degrees at WSU.



Dana Murray Patterson, graduate student and graduate director for the Talmadge Anderson Heritage House, will graduate with her Ph.D. in higher education in May.

She serves as a student advocate and mentor with student athletes of color and the Black Women’s Caucus, and she is a board member of the YWCA of WSU. She is a member of the Student Conduct Board and recently co-chaired the Martin Luther King Jr. planning committee.

She has been married for nearly 15 years to Lamar Patterson, and they have four children.

Vicki Owens, WSU alumna, first visited Uganda in 1985 on a two-year contract to help start a primary school. She woke up one morning on the front lines of a military coup. Despite that ignominious beginning, or perhaps because of it, she became aware of an intensity of human needs unknown during her years in Richland and Pullman.
She started Ph.D. studies in educational psychology at WSU (completed in 1994) and sought a position lecturing at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda.

After realizing that a single counselor can only help a finite number of people, she moved from training teachers to training counselors in 1997, founding the first graduate program in counseling psychology in Uganda.

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