Moms Association honors women on campus

By Victoria Snell

Every year at the kick-off of Moms Weekend, one mother is presented with the Amelia Alpiner Stern Mom of the Year Award. While the lucky mom has yet to be announced, the Moms Association honors others who have made an impact on campus, as well as in the community. Get to know the winners of this year’s various Moms Association Awards. 

The Medallion of Honor

Created in 1966, the Medallion of Honor recognizes those who improve the lives of others through services and talent. This year, Deana McDonagh, professor of industrial design, is being recognized for her services as a professor, as well as her numerous publications. 

Upon recognition of the award, McDonagh said she was both shocked and honored. With the recent death of her own mother, she said that this award has come at an odd time, but adds more meaning to it. 

McDonagh is originally from Manchester and has spent the last 11 years in the U.S. She said her accomplishments are in her mother’s honor. 

“To realize that your contributions in the everyday really are being noticed is hugely significant, because I think there are a lot of people doing phenomenal things on campus and in the community, and I think we do it because it’s the right thing,” she said. “We never ever think of being rewarded for it. We just know it needs to be done.”

Illini Spirit Award

Created in 2008, the Illini Spirit Award is given to programs and projects. The award stipulates financial support in order for these projects to promote the safety and advancement of University students. 

This year, the Women’s Resources Center is being recognized for its initiative to improve a number of its awareness programs. Molly McLay, assistant director of the Women’s Resource Center and coordinator of sexual violence programing, said that among these programs, the staff is working on bringing back two programs for fraternities and sororities, as well as improving already-existent programs like FYCARE. McLay also said the Women’s Resources Center is creating an entirely new program called ICARE, which will act as a second step to FYCARE. 

McLay said winning the Illini Spirit Award will not only spread the word about these programs to more students, but will also provide innovation in their programs. This includes the purchase of i>Clickers for future workshops. 

McLay expressed her excitement in sharing the news of the award with the student facilitators of the existent programs. 

“The student facilitators are kind of like unsung heroes,” she said. “They do the work. They see it as important. But they don’t always see that the campus is recognizing it in that way, and I think this award is really validating for all of us that do this work.” 

The Humanitarian Service Award

The Moms Association grants the Humanitarian Service Award to students who have done exceptional work within the local community. While the award is usually given to one graduate and one undergraduate student, this year the award was given to only one student. 

Sonya Dave, junior in LAS, has been recognized this year for her work with Avicenna Community Health Center, a free clinic in Champaign. Dave said that her interest in making a difference started when a pharmacy within the clinic was created to help patients with low-income backgrounds attain prescriptions that they couldn’t otherwise afford. 

While she said there are many other deserving organizations on campus, Dave decided to give the $250 grant to the Avicenna Community Health Center. Dave’s mom will not be attending this year’s Moms Weekend, but she said her mom has majorly impacted her life by instilling within her a sense of self-worth and confidence. 

“She never made me feel like I don’t belong,” Dave said. “I feel like that’s the only reason I was actually able to grow out of my shell and actually gain confidence and believe in myself.”

The Moms Scholarships 

This year, the Moms Association awarded Tiffany Janda and Annie Mauro with the Moms Scholarships. 

Mauro, junior in FAA, said she found out about the scholarship through her sorority, Sigma Kappa. She is also involved with Women’s Glee Club, 3Spot Dance Troupe and Girls Next Door, a women’s a capella group. 

Mauro’s mom will be attending Moms Weekend for the fourth time, and is an alumna from the class of 1985, as well as an alumna from Sigma Kappa. Mauro said one of her favorite Moms Weekend activities is performing in the spring concert for her mom. 

“I love that for her, it’s not an extra thing for her to have to come to … but she always gets to come and see that choir concert, and she really enjoys it,” she said. 

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